Ahead of Uganda’s 61st Independence Day celebrations, the groundbreaking “One Nation Festival” was held yesterday at the Lugogo Grounds. The festival was organized with a unique objective: to unite Ugandans from diverse tribal backgrounds through the celebration and presentation of Uganda’s rich cultural heritage, music, dance, art, food, and fashion, all aimed at fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of the cultural evolution of different Ugandan communities.
Kulture Klub, the masterminds behind events like Iwachu Neza, Kwegonza, and Bakiga Nation, spearheaded this cultural exchange initiative, as sponsored by Pilsner Lager.
In alignment with its vision, the festival featured a culturally diverse artist lineup, each representing a different region within Uganda. This strategic move ensured that the festival aptly showcased the richness of Uganda’s cultural diversity.
As the clock struck midday, festivalgoers flocked to the venue, exploring various cultural booths, sipping drinks from beautifully decorated gourds, indulged in face painting and art, immersing themselves in a traditional music and dance ensemble that provided instant cultural immersion in the joyous atmosphere.
With Miss Deedan as host, the Baraka dance troupe set the tone for the festival with a showcase of Northern Uganda’s cultural dance and music, followed by a vibrant Kikiga Dance performed by Kabwondera And The Troupe. The western culture was celebrated with an energetic Runyege performance by the Ihunde dance troupe, representing the Banyoro. Not to be forgotten was the fusion of Kinyarwanda and Kiganda dances that had most attendees dancing along enthusiastically.
The entertainment continued with Mudra and DJ BankRobber, who set the mood just right. The dynamic female duo, Kataleya & Kandle, took the stage in matching blue two-piece outfits, performing fan favorites like “Do Me,” “Nyash,” “Pose,” “Osanze Ndaba,” and tracks from their EP, “Call It Love,” including “Binkolele” and “Katono.”
The legendary Afrigo Band took the stage with Racheal Magoola, Joanita Kawalya, and Moses Matovu leading a memorable live music performance, serenading the audience with renditions and old-time hits like “Obangaina,” “Omusajja Ansinga,” and “Teri Mubi,” evoking nostalgia and taking the crowd down memory lane.
Allan Toniks, looking dapper, followed with performances of fan favorites like “Sunday,” “Mulamwa,” “Sikuleka,” “Tano,” “Sunday,” and “Romance.”
The party continued with Kenya’s DJ KFR and Dan Sax, ushering revelers into amapiano vibes.
Then, taking the stage at a quarter past 11, the renowned South African duo, Mafikizolo made up of Theo Kgosinkwe and Nhlanhla Nciza, not only added to the allure of the One Nation Festival but also reaffirmed the festival’s dedication to celebrating African music and culture. With a vibrant blend of Afro-pop that seamlessly incorporates elements of Kwaito, Marabi, and Kwela, Mafikizolo has garnered numerous awards and international acclaim over their two-decade-long journey in the music industry. Their diversity and collaborations have won the hearts of many, earning them a substantial following not only in Uganda but across the entire African continent.
Mafikizolo’s appearance at the One Nation Festival was eagerly anticipated despite the dynamic duo not being strangers to performing in Uganda, having graced the stage at previous events such as the Abryanz Style and Fashion Awards (ASFAs) and being scheduled for the Club Mega Fest, which unfortunately couldn’t happen as planned. In 2021, they virtually performed at the Club Beatz at Home Finale, which took the form of an online performance due to pandemic-related travel restrictions. Their presence at the One Nation Festival was a moment many had been eagerly looking forward to, and they did not disappoint.
Mafikizolo while clad in colorful attires characterized by green and black colors, took fans and lovers of music down a musical journey revisiting their popular hits like “Khona”, “Ndihamba Nawe”, “Love Portion”, “Emlanjeni” and my personal favorite “Ngeke Balunge”, all of which saw the crowd sing and cheer from beginning to end.
Despite a modest turnout, the inaugural edition of the One Nation Festival was a delightful cocktail of great music, dance, culture, and ice-cold Pilsner Lager. In the spirit of cultural exchange and celebration, the One Nation Festival promises to become a landmark event in Uganda’s cultural calendar, with plans for it to be an annual tradition.