29 November 2017

Uganda: Milege Falls Short This Time

music review

Milege World Music Festival came back for a fifth edition over the weekend.

With a lineup of acts such as Qwela, Haka Mukiga, Michael Kitanda, Sabbar Percussions and Afrigo band among others, the festival was looking at experiences that would surpass anything ever held at the Mayor's Botanical Gardens, Entebbe, a camping resort that has hosted the festival from the beginning.

The festival started on Friday, but the real gist of the event came on Saturday and Sunday.

On Saturday, the festival did commendably well with acts including Qwela that were presenting a whole new ensemble, and Bengatronics from Kenya - a group that creates fusions of Kenya's Benga sound with electronic tunes.

But there were glaring issues the festival had not dealt with; for instance, the lack of content was clear, a problem that generally dogs the festival circuit in the country.

Milege suffered from that and an inner disorganization that affected the delivery of the two hosts, Roger Mugisha and Cleopatra Koheirwe; it was like most of the time they had no idea who was getting on stage when and how much time they were going to be on. It threw the whole festival in chaos.

One of the artistes scheduled to perform claimed there was no clear schedule for the festival, thus artistes were mostly ambushed or given performance times they were not comfortable with.

This year, having children from Grace Villa from Kabale highlight issues affecting women and children - the festival being in Entebbe where women have been brutally murdered - was thoughtful, but the timing was off.

The group performed at about 7pm when much of the audience was distracted. When they presented sensitive poems and songs, they only sounded like a school children choir on a wrong stage.

Performance, only picked steam when Haka Mukiga joined Nyesiga and Enzamba Egambe, which climaxes with Kikiga foot thumping.

Michael Kitanda had earlier had a great time on stage with his band that included Giovanni Kiyingi, Elijah Kitaka and Ernest Otim among others. With his sax, he let the audience enjoy a hybrid of jazz and Afro fusion with a few influences of funk.

Totemo unexpectedly closed the festival at 9pm, with mostly electronic and house DJ performances.

The audience had anxiously waited for Afrigo band, in vain. As the DJs changed their selection to Nigerian music and the stage was dismantled, it was clear that was all.

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