DAVID MAFABI: Yes, Nyege Nyege ended, left a mark but any lessons for us

David Mafabi, a veteran journalist

On Sunday 18 September, after watching TV at 7.00 am, my daughter who is in P.1 asked me, “Daddy what is Nyege Nyege,”

I did not answer, I dodged and changed my topic to something else not because I did not know but because I just wanted her to keep away from Nyege Nyege, an event she had just watched on TV.

But she insisted “Daddy so people go to Nyege Nyege to walk naked like that man I saw, to drink alcohol and dance?” And because I did not want to disappoint her, I told her that was it.

I must confess that I, like other moral Ugandans, are still filled with a pang of sadness after learning that the state had given a nod to Nyege Nyege to take place.

And yes, it took place because the long hand of the state was behind it but we have also learnt that Nyege Nyege did not promote any cultural tourism like many people who were pro-the event had intimated.

Those who attended the event will tell you that it was a show of witchcraft, sorcery, Illuminati, and sexual prowess across the races and this explains today why there are many mournful faces as a sign of mourning.

In the traditional African practice Nyege Nyege would have been an occasion for a massive celebration of life, and cultural tourism, so to say but reports from those who attended this event indicate that there was nothing useful to society to learn from; the event was truly an empty shell.

The moral issues related to dark tourism came back on the scene, and the four-day extravaganza promoted sex, homosexuality, and drug use – something that made the legislators led by Parliamentary speaker Ms. Anita Among and other legislators ban it.

A close friend who attended the function says that the open sexual exploitation of girl-child at this event exposed a shocking violation of rights, and a reflection of the profound risk potentially faced by all women at this event.

“One Kenyan girl walked towards a fire that had been lit for warming, close to where we were seated, undressed and went down on the laps of a white man, and hell started, I just walked away,” he added,  it actually became a breeding ground for sexual immorality, smoking of contraband/narcotic drugs and vulgar language, songs, expressions, and gestures.

Then there is this naked white man who moves around with a wooden doll, kept spitting and whenever he spat on you, you would start shivering as if one attacked by evil spirits and until he comes back to spit on you, you could never get to normal.

He added that then there was a white lady with four guards who went to an Island close to Itanda falls stayed there for about six hours, and spat something reddish like blood in the guards before they started flowing together on the Nile and towards the wave; it was magical and shocked everyone.

He revealed that even when those who were for Nyege Nyege urged that the event would promote cultural tourism, the festival instead promoted homosexuality, lesbianism, European sorcery and witchcraft, smoking, drinking alcohol, and having sex in the open when everyone is seeing.

Even though the festival was designed for peace, Love, and music, and cultural tourism as claimed, Peter explains that there were four shrines constructed across the event at Itanda falls at the banks of the Nile River, there were many other shrines hidden at the waters for spiritual worship.

Nyege Nyege means an irresistible urge to dance in the local Luganda language, but it can have a sexual connotation in other languages in the region.

Even when the CEO of Talent Africa Aly Alibhai [the organizers of the event] insisted that the function was about cultural tourism and music, Nyege Nyege at Itanda falls in Jinja district was just a globalised mass-entertainment place for sex consumption and the visitors touring Nyege Nyege were far more diverse than sex tourists: men, women, gay, straight, stag or cultural tourists came to this place to feel the thrill of desire and disgust.

My grand Mum [RIP] told me one time in a proverb that; He that beats the drum for the mad man to dance is no better than the mad man himself,” I saw this in our leaders who were for the festival and who put the earnings from the event above the morals of our children-it is sad.

The government be it autocratic is supposed to play an important role in inculcating values and morals in citizens but in allowing Nyege Nyege to take place in this country in the name of cultural tourism, the government failed on its role.

In life when taking office, every public servant, elected or appointed, enters into a covenant with the people: that as a public official they will seek to promote the public interest in all political processes and ensure that policy adoption and service provision occur without favoritism or discrimination but where those in authority table their interests, the covenant is broken especially in the case of Nyege Nyege.

Nyege Nyege showed the diversity of the consumption practices and representations of the spectacle of commoditised sex, explaining how the emotions experienced by those touring the sex district draws on intersectional belongings (gender, sexuality, class, and ethnicity).

My daughter like any other child just grows into and within the cultural heritage of his people, he/she imbibes it and Culture, in traditional society, is not taught; it is caught, in this respect what have our children caught about Nyege Nyege?  And my key question here that comes to mind is, are we heading in the right direction?

To our dear Prime Minister, ministers, and other legislators who supported Nyege Nyege to go on please get lessons from this traditional Bugisu proverb; A doctor who invokes a storm on his people cannot prevent his house from destruction” watch your children, please.

An American psychologist and the founder of the humanistic approach to psychology Mr Carl Rogers argues that “experience leads me to believe that it is cultural influences which are a major factor in our evil behaviours”.


It must be noted that by allowing Nyege Nyege to go ahead, the government was psychologically inclined to elevate her own self-interest above all else – including morality; when morality and self-interest come into head-to-head conflict, morality loses out.

Is our government guiding us well on the path to morality, respect for our local culture, or just interested in getting money at the expense of the morals of our children?

All that happened at Nyege Nyege reflects a fundamental breakdown and immorality of families
and communities, and a failure by the authorities to provide protection to children in order to grow up as responsible Ugandans.


Moral  philosophy seeks  to  address  questions  of   morality  using  concepts  such  as  good  and  bad,  right  and  wrong,  justice  and  virtue and it also aims  to  describe  morality,  criticise  behaviour  deemed   to   be   immoral   and,   where   necessary,   provides   reasons   for   making   changes   in   behaviour, this is where our government failed.


When you listen to the Prime minister and other MPs speaking for Nyege Nyege, it is as if we fought against the injustice of colonial imposition using these same moral justifications for the justice of our cause but then when we achieved independence, instead of applying those moral principles to our internal relations, we have simply changed position with colonizers while retaining their obnoxious policies.


It is true; however, that we have not taken seriously this issue of morality as a nation whether in the way we deal with one another or in the way we approach the business of the state.


The wedge that the colonizers sought successfully to insert in our body politic, we have gladly and effectively retained and now we make an alarm after we have stolen, just to confuse those who come to the rescue.


Yes, we have leaders but what has been missing is a moral core that walks the talk of unity in diversity, one that sees others as mirror images of ourselves, that respects their humanity if not their tongue, that recognizes the human need for equal treatment, and one that avoids the temptation to use power for self-aggrandizement.

Governments across the world are legally required to promote the moral development of their citizens, unfortunately, though, our leaders in NRM for example think that whatever earns us money is good for the nation even when it is morally disastrous to the citizens.

Mr. Yoweri Museveni is a strong president with a reputation as a control freak and with the audacity plus courage that enables him to plunge his hand of influence into every small decision in government.

But today, he is patronizing a regime of serious rising impoverishment of Uganda in terms of moral, ethical, social, political, cultural, and economic development. This is the socio-political reality: take it, leave it.

Not all that is presumed to attract tourism should be embraced, the bible tells us to employ Solomon’s wisdom in all we do, and the same should be extended to decisions on the morality of our nation; Is what we are doing moral or not for our dear country?


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