By Bamuturaki Musinguzi
Published October 16, 2013
The number of participants in Uganda’s Bayimba International Festival of the Arts is increasing as seen during the sixth edition of the event held at National Theatre in Kampala. Held September 20- 23, 2013, the event had a captivating line up of music, dance, fashion, film and artistic talent.
The festival, held in partnership with Nile Breweries Limited under its Club beer brand, featured more than 300 artists, more than 60 performances and 36 hours of productions and performances. There were art exhibitions, fashion and the popular Silent Disco. Entry tickets went for Sh1, 000 (about US$0.3) per head each day.
Local musicians included at the festival included Dan Mugula, Margaret Nakibuka, Salongo Sebuguzi, The Uneven Band, Janzi Band, Myko Ouma, Coco Finger, Lawrence Okello, Herbert Kinobe and Bobi Wine.
While theatre productions were presented by Kaya Kagimu and Aloysious Matovu Joy, dance performances came from Yuttah Konvicts, Tabu Flo, Spirit of Uganda, Sesolya Dance Company and Kristina Johnstone as Open Mic Uganda and Lantern Meet of Poets presented poetry.
Foreign musicians gracing the festival comprised Mani Martin (Rwanda), Shazi Kool (Burundi), Leo Mkanyia (Tanzania), Ante Neo Soul (Kenya), Kouyate and Neeman (Mali/France), Nehoreka (Zimbabwe), KayGizm (South Africa), Maria Bragança (Brazil) and Mr Poa (Congo-Kinshasa).
Faisal Kiwewa, the Director of Bayimba Cultural Foundation that presents the annual festival, says, “We get our numbers through the counters and gate collections. We think the numbers of festival goers is growing because the Bayimba Festival brand is popular on the arts calendar that gathers different artists, craftsmen and textile dealers together. We have been consistent and our programming is appealing.”
Saying that the major challenge facing the festival is funding, Kiwewa, told ArtMatters.Info, “We run this festival on a very minimal budget and most of the support is in-kind and a lot of partnerships. This year we registered some corporate sponsorship.”
Through its festivals and other activities, Bayimba Cultural Foundation says it seeks to develop and promote Ugandan talent. As a result of its scouting and training efforts upcountry, it is able to include qualified artists from all over the country in its programme.
For instance, this year’s programme included performances by selected participants of the Youth and Hip Hop training programme as well as Bila-Wa Movement from Gulu (north-west Uganda), an offshoot of this programme, while Idi Massaba represented Mbale (eastern Uganda) and the 12 Keys Band came in all the way from Mbarara (south-west Uganda).
There were a range of training workshops in arts journalism, live events coverage, and arts curating as were film screenings with post-screening discussions for youth with a view to increasing appreciation for film and empowering participants.
Bayimba Foundation says that the film programming is to provide the audience with a deeper insight and understanding of their own African musical and artistic ventures as well as to increase awareness for the role that music and arts play in shaping society.
The selection of music movies included UNITED STATES OF AFRICA, PUNK IN AFRICA, AS OLD AS MY TONGUE and QUEENS OF SOUND, among others.
The festival also provides space for a number of debates and discussions. This year, WAZO: Talking Arts, a Ugandan discussion platform that was set up to encourage dialogue across the arts disciplines and to enhance the intellectual basis of Uganda’s arts sector, was held under the topic, Festivals – A Case for their Value to the Arts and Cities.
“What I like about this festival is that it offers an opportunity for both local and international artists, but especially the local ones because they are able to show case their talent and get exposure. This festival offers a different live music package,” Fred Musisi Munagomba, a cultural consultant, observed.