Bayimba International Festival of the Arts, Kampala Uganda

Every September for 6 or 7 years now, Kampala’s National Theatre comes alive with art, drama, dance, and music (more so than usual). At Bayimba International Festival of the Arts, you can shop for locally made clothing and crafts, and have fun with the kids during the day. The evenings become quite lively, with tonnes of live music and dancing, and local brew on sale. Some years I go, others I don’t.

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Zan, stoked on art

2016 was a year I went. I spent a mellow Sunday afternoon with friends. We toured the crafts, made some art, drummed, and went wild for a few installations. Did anyone here go? What were your highlights? These were mine:

Affirmative Art had a collaborative display inviting people to make their own art. Our very own Zan did just that. What do you think of her creation? Check that link to learn more about the organization. It’s solid.

I loved how everyone was encouraged to get arty, no matter the age or background. Totally inclusive. When handed a paint brush, I simply stated: “I’ve given birth, I am already an artist.” I wanted to cruise and soak up everyone’s creativity.

This was my favourite piece, hands down:

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Pretty %&#$ amazing, eh? This dude created his 3′ x 5′ collage using empty sachets of local gin, vodka, and other spirits. (for my non-Ugandan readers, we buy shots of hard liquor in small plastic bags) I asked him if he first drank all that booze. He says he picked them from the streets. Hmmm…

Of course, I can’t get enough of our handicrafts:

While volunteering in Uganda, or simply traveling through, experience Uganda's vibrant art community with the Bayimba International Festival of the Arts. It happens every September. Who doesn't love African art, music, drama and dance?  Things to do in Uganda.

Now who doesn’t need another local bottle opener?

There was an awesome drum circle, another cooperative display. Drums and other local instruments were just there. Anyone could come and do their thing – and they did. I pulled up a piece of dirt and spent more than an hour just watching as groups of friends entered and took over. The craziest thing about visiting a drum circle in Uganda is that EVERYONE here is a freaking expert. Those not drumming were dancing. And they start them young. Check my short video.

But the absolute runaway hit was Rashidah. She shows at Collin Sekajugo Gallery (Kamwokya) and Weaver Bird Handicrafts. Her bodaboda helmets made my day. Thank you Rashidah for bringing to light a major Kampala social issue. Brain injury and death are very real occurrences for commuters. Yet many people still refuse to wear helmets. These gorgeous head protectors (some covered in bark cloth for the fashion forward Muganda-about-town) are for sale, look amazing, and totally attract positive attention. My hope is that a beautiful helmet will be worn! If anyone wants one, leave a comment and I’ll connect you.

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Rashidah, stoked on art

I’ve purposely left out all the headlining artists and performers because they’re the ones that always get the press. I wanted to share Kampala’s amazing grassroots art community with you all. We’re seriously happening out here. Uganda isn’t just about traditional culture, wildlife safari, and outdoor adventure. It’s about creativity and collaboration. And making merry!

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13 thoughts on “Bayimba International Festival of the Arts, Kampala Uganda

  1. This looks like so much fun – so colourful, so vibrant and a great way to bring the community together. I LOVE the motorbike helmets – so creative are they. And that painting using bottle labels, love it too.

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  2. Festivals like that are one of the best way to get to know locals and their culture. The guy with bottle stickers got really creative – that must have been a long job! Especially if his story was true ūüôā

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed. I’m glad Kampala is developing and maintaining these annual events. What’s also great is the entry fee was around $2. Bayimba is attended by more Ugandans than tourists or expats. This helps to grow a robust, sustainable, domestic art scene.

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