Main talk of the town was the Nyege Nyege International Music Festival. Every time “Nyege” was mentioned, a Kenyans eyebrow would raise – “say what festival?” “Nyege Nyege Festival”. “You know what that means right?”. In Swahili – “Desire”, “vexation”, “irritation” but mainly “animal on heat”. In Luganda – a sudden uncontrollable urge to move, shake or dance. Hence the hashtag for the event was #RespectTheUrge.
The Nairobi crew that I knew was taking the bus on Thursday at 10pm. I wasn’t going to go but a last minute decision at 3pm was made and the packing and planning began!
Riz and I left home and met up with Marah and Fieke (like nime fika) at the bus stage in town. Took us 9 hours to get to the Busia Kenya-Uganda border. Exit Kenya stamp. Entry Uganda stamp! A good 45-60 minutes at the border. Got to Jinja at around 9.30-10AM. Got dropped off at the bus stop and were welcomed by a gang of boda-bodas! All waiting for us to make a decision about how much we’re willing to pay before negotiating with them. After the negotiation is when I realized it was my first time on a boda-boda! Hopped on and it was an exciting experience!
After being driven to the wrong backpackers, we finally made it to our destination – Jinja Backpackers, On The Nile! We were welcomed by the lovely Suse and picked out our beds and rooms and settled in! Ordered our breakfast – Rolex! And headed down to the Nile River.
It was definitely festival vibes – Plugged in our music into the system, food and drinks going around, friends in conversation – Excitement was in the air! And… then we all crashed for a couple of hours!
Hired a Taxi (matatu) and fit all of us in it – 18 of us!
The rest were coming over the next day and some were already at the festival. Made a stop to buy stuff and off we went to the Nyege Nyege Festival!
Got our wrist bands and were welcomed by carved Gorilla’s at the entrance of Nile Discovery Resort – an abandoned resort that serves the best purpose now – festivals! The Nile River looked spectacular and the colours and vibe and people made everything feel so alive!
Umbrella’s almost as tall as trees stuck out as the main festival theme – it rained all 3 days! The stage was fab, food and drinks on point. Proper festival vibe!
Artists, crew and audience were from all over the world – UK, Kenya, California, Uganda, L.A., Ghana, Mexico, just to name a few.
I didn’t last for too long on Friday night, had to catch up on sleep.
The next morning, the rest of the Nairobi crew arrived and we set off to explore Main Street, Jinja. Restaurants, stores, clubs, pubs and ol school architecture.
Flavours became our favourite hangout spot – only place we found with wi-fi! Even though we had to pay UGS 1,500 (Kshs 43) per hour. Their breakfast and coffees were awesome! Not forgetting the best croissants in town from Brood!
Did some fun shopping – bags, fabric, key-chains and food! Checked out the Jinja Central Market. Such a busy and vibrant part of the city!
Took a boda-boda back to Jinja Backpackers and got ready to head back to the festival. Went well prepared this time round. Umbrella’s, rain coats and warmer clothing.
The festival got bigger as it was a Saturday night and people from all over were able to travel and come through for it and drive back the next day. Met lots of new people and danced the night away.
Sunday was chilled – slept in till late then headed over to Falvours for brunch. We were a big crew there. Caught up with everyone then strolled through the street again for last minute shopping (mainly for water) and boda’d it back to backpackers.
Took a boda-boda all the way to the festival early, say 4pm. So much fun! Chilled by the Nile River and engrossed and indulged ourselves in deep meaningful conversations, food and drinks. Always fun to randomly run into friends at festivals you never expected to see! Shout out to Kiuri!
The music continued till late at night but I left early, at around 8-9pm as I had to catch a taxi to Kampala the next morning! Got back to backpackers, chatted with Suse. Finished packing and went to bed.
Last coffee and croissant and Flavours, then Fieke and I set off for Kampala! A 2 hour ride – considering all the stops we made and all the traffic we came across. Got dropped slap bang in the middle of town! Walked around and came across this one place, that sold banana juice! I thought it would be milky, it was actually watery and refreshing!
Everyone always talked about Garden City – I thought it was a courtyard with restaurants and bars and a supermarket and that it would mainly be an outdoors kinda thing, turned out to be a freaking mall! Went in anyway for wi-fi and a quick bite.
Took Boda-boda’s to yet another mall – Acacia Mall – where all the expats hang out. We were meeting with a local poet who’s friends with Fieke. Walked to a local joint for some typical Ugandan food and then set off for my one and only site-seeing that I was able to slot into my 6 hours in Kampala.
Hopped on to another boda-boda and went uphill to Old Kampala where the historic
Ghadafi Mosque stood out. We were pretty decent but not Islamic decent. Got dressed up in lesos and scarves and our mini-tour began. It was interesting to hear about the history of the mosque and of Uganda. It’s weird, being neighboring countries and having such huge differences. After the tour inside the mosque, we climbed to the top of the tower, where you get a 360 view of Kampala. Literally everything seems like it’s on top of a hill.
One thing I will not disagree with, what I was told about the city was, it’s all red! Red soil!
After the tour, had to find a spot to sit and wait for me to get to the bus stop to catch my bus to Jinja, pick up the rest of the Nairobi crew and get back home.
Found a VERY local spot – asked for tea, got it with so much sugar mixed in it (yuk!). Asked if I could plug in my phone to charge, paid UGS 500 to charge my phone (which didn’t even charge for some odd reason) and UGS 1000 for the tea. Everything is money yo!
Got to my bus stop, waited in the offices. Luckily, an electricity socket that worked AND wi-fi! I was set for the next hour! Updates and chats galore! Haha!
The bus left the area at 7.15 we got out of Kampala at 8.30! We think Nairobi traffic is mad? Kampala traffic is MAD! Got to Jinja at around 10PM. Picked up the rest of the Nairobi crew and off to Busia we were. Got there around 1AM. All the way though, there was a chiq sitting behind me who kept kneeing me in the back, trying to stop the seat from falling backward as it was probably squashing her legs. I was being cautious though because I had the same thing happening with me with the guy in front of me. I had to have a word with her – told her to stop kneeing my back because every time the bus hit a bump, I felt her knee go in my back. Told her that I know the seats aren’t great, but she too had her seat back up into a guy behind her – She stopped then.
At immigration it was a funny sight. Everyone tired and glum and groggy and wanting to get back to Nairobi! My experience though… An old Indian lady had no qualms, whatsoever, about farting in my face! What a Welcome back!
The bus ride back from Busia to Nairobi felt like the longest time ever! It must have been 6AM when I opened my eyes, all I saw was mist! Some serious thick fog! I got on to Google maps to figure out where we were and how much longer it was going to be till we got to Nairobi… I read 3 hours and 19 minutes and wasn’t pleased. We made a stop in Nakuru for people to freshen up.
Going to Uganda was random and fun – but it’s weird. I had a set intention since December 2006 to visit the city, it manifesting 9 years later though felt odd. What it meant to me then and what it meant now were two different feelings. But super glad I got it out of my system and off my list!
On to the next African country!