Bayimba International Pilgrimage of the Arts

By Joel Ntwatwa

September 25, 2015


Bayimba International Festival of the Arts was held for the eighth time last weekend, 18-20 September, 2015 at the National Theatre.

It has succeeded in making the National Theatre (Uganda National Cultural Centre) a kind of shrine of the arts with a yearly pilgrimage of arts lovers from everywhere in and outside Uganda.

The Afro-centric fusion of music, canvas, dance, thread, paint, lenses and food drew global arts lovers and performers from Kenya, South Africa, The United Kingdom, Tanzania, The United States, Senegal, Cameroon, the Netherlands and many more countries.

The entrance fee of the Bayimba International Festival of the Arts has been steadily going up. From being an open festival, this year the fee was 5,000/-, a very affordable price and one must agree, underpricing, for what goes on per day.

Joel Aly Keita

The crowds do not seem to be reducing, in fact, they are growing more each year.

There is an air of free expression at Bayimba. It is visible in the dress of many revelers. What was very fascinating though were the masked patrons who were giving out Nyege-Nyege Festival flyers. Their masks covering their faces except their eyes, they made for a ninja-like look.

With nine festival spaces showcasing different events, it was really an a la carte of art. For example, on a Friday, a reveler might have come in at about 4pm and caught Batalo East Dance Expressions in the Open Space, then gone to the auditorium to watch the Physical Theatre, from there proceed to the Upper Stage and enjoy Kenneth Mugabi, before grabbing a stick of muchomo and beer to wait for Maddox’s performance at 7pm. He would then have gone to and fro stages to enjoy the Santuri DJs as well as not miss St. NellySade. There was so much on the plate.

Maddox Sematimba

What was evident, was that all the performers came to partake of the sacred energy at Bayimba by giving of themselves.

You could see this in Joel Sebunjo and Aly Keita’s impassioned performance, Naava Grey’s soulful serenading, Levixone’s spiritual vibes. Maddox made a very sly joke at his opening set, “Last year I closed the event, this year I’m opening it.”

The crowd at Bayimba are in a league of their own. For example in the Silent Disco, you would not find roving eyes, instead, if you were looking, you were probably going to see revelers in a musical trance, extending their hips and hands to where the sound took them. Esa Williams and Marvin Granger had a set so good on Saturday, that random strangers formed up in a circle and began showcasing their different strokes. They were so hungry for a quality performance, that if you were a lackluster performer, you risked being booed off or being walked away from.

The eighth edition certainly showed that the brand of Bayimba is still rising and we’re certainly moving at a steady pace. How year in year out, the festival grows bigger and better must be attributed to a real and raw passion for the arts by the organisers.

Do not miss next year’s!


Leave a comment or share this article

Leave a review


Get More from The Pearl Guide