Red alert warnings have been issued by both the UK and US governments asking travellers to avoid Nyege Nyege festival, due to a "growing terror threat" in Uganda.
The US Embassy in Uganda issued an alert yesterday (November 9), asking US citizens not to attend the festival — citing an alert on November 6, with advice to avoid all large-scale gatherings in the country, as well as places of worship and "musical and cultural events" due to increased terrorist activity.
The UK Foreign Office issued a similar warning yesterday, specifying that British citizens should avoid Jinja Town - a city at the source of the River Nile where Nyege Nyege is currently taking place - as well as Queen Elizabeth National Park, and the surrounding areas.
The FCDO shared this was due to an attack on October 17 in the same area, in which three people died - including a British citizen.
Nyege Nyege festival, which kicked off today, is a key event for African-centred electronic music; returning to Uganda for its eighth edition this year, in partnership with the City of Jinja.
Alongside African acts such as headliners Mejja and Trio Mio , and main stage performers EddyKenzo, Apass, Janzi Band, and Karole Kasita — there are a number of international acts expected to appear, including Tash LC, Menzi, De Schuurman, Sarra Wild, DJ Marcelle, and more.
Last year members of the Ugandan parliament had called for the festival to be cancelled, due to concerns of Nyege Nyege’s “promotion of immorality and issues to do with homosexuality,” with one MP calling it a “breeding ground for sexual immorality.”
The festival was given the go ahead in 2022, but was asked to adhere to strict guidelines in order to avoid breaching the country’s “cultural/moral norms” — including a ban on vulgar language, songs, gestures, and to allow government authorities and security forces “the right to impromptu entry.”
Earlier this year, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni introduced a new set of laws, described as some of the "world’s toughest anti-LGBTQIA+ laws," including the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality.”
In its guidance for Nyege Nyege festival, the Foreign Office also warned British nationals of the “anti-homosexuality” act, advising all citizens to remain vigilant if they are in the country — and to contact the British High Commission in Kampala with any concerns.
They advise for that British nationals in Uganda in need of urgent help can call them 24/7 on 0312 312000 — while those in the UK who may be worried about a British national in Uganda, you call 020 7008 5000, 24 hours a day.
Megan Townsend is Mixmag's Deputy Editor, follow him on Twitter