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Security warning over ‘Tomorrowland of Africa’

Three Western nations have urged citizens not to attend this weekend's Nyege Nyege festival in Uganda due to a growing terror threat

By James Hanley on 10 Nov 2023

image © Vishnu R Nair

The embassies of three Western countries have warned citizens against attending an African music festival, amid a heightened terror threat.

East Africa’s biggest electronic music festival, Nyege Nyege is taking place in the city of Jinja, Uganda, from 9-12 November. Organised by Talent Africa Group, the event has been dubbed the “Tomorrowland of Africa” and is popular with international visitors who reportedly made up 5,000 of its 12,000 festival-goers last year.

However, the US and Irish embassies in Kampala, along with the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), have urged people to stay away from this weekend’s eighth edition.

“Due to increased terrorist activity, US Embassy Kampala recommends that individuals exercise an elevated degree of caution and reconsider attendance at upcoming large public gatherings, such as large-scale worship services and music and cultural festivals in Kampala and Jinja,” reads a travel alert.

“The US Embassy is directing its staff to not attend the Nyege Nyege festival in Jinja from November 9-12, 2023. Due to security concerns, we advise US citizens not attend the festival.”

According to Africa News, the warnings follow a number of deadly attacks in recent months in Uganda, attributed to Democratic Republic of Congo-based rebels, who have pledged allegiance to Islamic State.

Three people – including two honeymooning tourists – died in an attack in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Western Uganda on 17 October, while 42 people, including 37 pupils, were killed at a secondary school in June.

“There is a growing terror threat in Uganda, including targeting of foreigners”

“There is a growing terror threat in Uganda, including targeting of foreigners,” says the FCDO. “Avoid large gatherings, including large scale worship, and music and cultural festivals in Uganda.”

The British High Commission has advised against all but essential travel due to the “growing terror threat in Uganda, including the targeting of foreigners”, while the Irish Embassy has also issued a warning, with reference to “music and cultural festivals in Uganda”.

Uganda’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for East African Community Affairs, Rebecca Kadaga, played down safety concerns during a tour of the festival venue, reports The Independent.

“The president has requested me to assure you that all the major events in Jinja – starting with this one… are fully secure,” she said, adding that senior military and police officers had been deployed to oversee security at the festival.

A record label, booking agency and music studio also operate under the Nyege Nyege umbrella. Artists and DJ’s performing at this year’s event include Kampire, Aunty Rayzor, Menzi, Mika Oki, Rosa Pistola, Afrorack, Meme, Model Home and Karol Kasita. A four-day festival pass costs US$180.

The Ugandan parliament banned the festival, which was first held in 2015, in 2022, accusing it of “promoting immorality”, but later reversed the decision.


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