Ugandese music, dance and film festival recovers after bad start

July 2009 -

Saturday night in Kampala. The stunning Cindy Sanyu thrills the audience during the second edition of the Bayimba festival, held at the parking yard of the National Theatre. Visitors stroll between the stage, the theatre and the 'silent disco', carrying cups of beer. In The Netherlands, free-entrance festivals take place frequently. But in Uganda, where nothing is for free, the Bayimba festival is a novelty.


Uganda's National Theatre in Kampala

Last year, during the first edition of Bayimba, visitors were paying an entree fee. Poor attendance and failing sponsors inflicted huge losses on the organisation. But Bayimba recovered from this knock-out blow and managed to get a program together for this second edition. "We believe in this festival. It should boost the culture in Uganda", says director Faisal Kiwewa.

Therefore, there are no expensive Ugandan superstars present at the festival. Instead, we see performances of upcoming artists like Sanyu, Sarah Ndagire and Sweet Kid. Michael Musoke plays a sensitive ballad on his guitar, while an evening breeze sweeps away the heat from Kampala’s business district. "Because we favour a cultural exchange, we invited foreign artists to perform. Like Ferguson and Brian from the UK, and Elemotho from Namibia", says Kiwewa. From the region Iddi Achieng (Kenya) and Enika (Tanzania) are present. "During the previous week we have organised workshops for youth and upcoming talent, which were given mainly by the regional artists."

Inside the theatre, dance acts are performed and films are being shown. The audience bursts out laughing after seeing a male character in the Zimbabwean film Yellow Card carrying a child on his back, like a woman. The sponsors  can be content. There seems to be quite a large attendance this time. Outside the parking yard, a few dozen of motor-taxi drivers are waiting to take customers home. In the meanwhile, they can just catch a glimmer of Cindy Sanyu.

The Bayimba festival is supported by Hivos, Mundial Productions,  KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, the Commonwealth Foundation and the Dutch Embassy in Uganda.