Question: What can possibly be more colourful than everyday life in Kampala?
Answer: THE KAMPALA CITY FESTIVAL!
Pink hot pants, bright blue afro wigs, huge sunglasses, red lollipops and pink lipstick were all the rage on the first Sunday in October as festival fever hit the streets of Kampala. We all know how Ugandans love to party – they love being part of the latest trends too – and everyone that was anyone had to turn up for what was undoubtedly the city’s biggest event this year.
Kampala is the party capital of East Africa. My friends from all over East Africa go crazy for Kampala’s nightlife. From Kigali to Bujumbura to Nairobi, they all say Kampala boasts the best nightlife (and the most beautiful ladies!) Nowhere was the party nation’s reputation more visible than on the crowded streets between Kitgum House (Jinja Road intersection) and City Square. It was wall-to-wall party, shoulder-to-shoulder all afternoon and long into the night. Did many people get to work on time on Monday? Not many I’m sure – a good number of people were still travelling home at 3 o’clock in the morning!
Kampala certainly rose to the occasion when Jennifer Musisi, the Executive Director of Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) announced:
“This year’s theme is COLOUR. Kampala is a Cosmopolitan City, so, Mr/Mrs Indian, please bring out those beautiful saris, the Rwandese, get the stunning Mishananas ready, the Masai remember to show up in those coloured, striking wrappers…the list of exciting attire from across the world is endless, but whichever your culture is, prepare to show off this October.”
2015 Kampala City Festival – the biggest street party in East Africa!
2015 marked the fourth year of the Kampala City Festival. If you hadn’t been before, perhaps this was the year you joined the festivities? If you didn’t go this year, I’m sure all the noise – and COLOUR – generated has got you interested in going next year!
Kampala City Festival has something for everyone.
In 2015, the Festival or Carnival started to come of age. Kampalans have been embracing the carnival feel and 2015 has been bigger and brighter than any other previous year. Festival-goers have been designing and making their own costumes and putting a lot of thought into how they can show off in as colourful a way as possible.
For one day a year, Kampala residents get to reclaim the normally congested streets. The festival kicked off with a convoy of large, decorated vehicles slowly driving in a loop through the city centre. Each float (themed vehicle) used its deafening sound systems, brilliant dancers and performers to fight for the attention of the crowd. Guys on roller skates and beautiful women in dazzling costumes all competed to wind up the crowd, and get them dancing and moving.
The streets of Kampala were alive with thousands of Ugandan boys and girls, giggling teenagers, those trendy illuminati, families with young children and the occasional dancing Muzungu. Everyone danced together. On street corners, young men set up photo printing machines. Vendors sold samosas, ice-cream and lollies. Ladies carried plastic buckets of fried cassava on their heads.
A friend in KCCA’s tourism department had invited me to check out the festival. He wondered what I would think of it. Always on the lookout for a good story, how could I resist? I decided I’d jump on a boda boda and head into town for the afternoon.
Tip: do not think of taking your car anywhere near downtown Kampala on the day of the Kampala City Festival. Many roads are closed off and you will find it more difficult than ever to park. The road closures impact the flow of traffic across the whole city, so ask someone to give you a lift or, better still, catch a boda boda or walk. The streets might not look that crowded when you first head into town but they will be jam-packed with people when you return home. You think you know how congested Kampala can get? Think again. If you haven’t been into the city centre on Festival day, you will not believe your eyes. Plan your journey and don’t get stuck in the jam – there’s nothing worse than having a great day out, being a little bit worse for wear and then not being able to get home.