‘Immoral’ Uganda festival where drugged-up revellers have all the sex they want

A festival in Uganda garnered attention after it was claimed the four-day bonanza "promoted sex, homosexuality and drug use".

The infamous Nyege Nyege music festival had been slapped with an attempted "immorality" ban – but, much to the relief of organisers, the new rules only made party-goers curious and caused the hedonistic event to sell out.

British attendee David Kempson told news outlet Agence France-Presse (AFP): "I learnt about the festival when the government of Uganda banned it on claims it was promoting immorality.

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"It is my first time in Africa. I didn't expect this much, the huge fan presence, the greenery, the waterfalls and hospitality."

Kempson isn't the only one who travelled the world just to attend the party – 5000 foreign tourists joined the 12000-strong crowd for four days of sex, drugs and rock and roll on the banks of the river Nile.

Nyege Nyege roughly translates to "an irresistible urge to dance" in the local Luganda language – however in other languages in the region the phrase has a more sexual connotation.

One attendee, describing the festival's healing vibe, said: "When I come for Nyege Nyege, I become free, I meet people from all over Africa and beyond, we laugh and dance, stress goes away."

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The event's co-founder Arlen Dilzanian said that "no evidence of sex orgies have been adduced by anybody making the allegations", but the festival continues to have a seedy reputation and is tightly monitored by security.

Information Minister Chris Baryomunsi earlier warned the festival would be shut down if there were serious breaches of the ban such as "sex orgies and nudity".

This is the second time a strict ban on immoral behaviour has been imposed on the festival – the first time was in 2018, when when Uganda's former ethics minister Simon Lokodo, a vocal homophobe, called the event an orgy of homosexuality, nudity and drugs akin to "devil worship".

On both occasions the ban failed to take hold thanks to public outcries on social media.

However this time the prohibition ended up being a great form of publicity for the festival, with some attendees telling AFP they had only heard about the event because of the ban.

"We are headed for a much bigger number (that) we never anticipated," Dilsizian told AFP.

And now the festival is set to go global thanks to the success it has enjoyed in Uganda.

It held its first international edition in Paris earlier this year, and is set to head to Cameroon next.

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