Bayimba International Festival of The Arts: Day One

Friday 21st Sept 2012 marked the beginning of the fifth Bayimba International Festival of the Arts; a three day marathon of music, dance, theatre, film, and visual arts organized every third week of September by the Bayimba Cultural Foundation.

Incorporated in November 2007 as a not-for-profit oriented company, the Bayimba Cultural Foundation aims at uplifting arts and culture with emphasis on visual and performing arts by stimulating original intra- and interdisciplinary cultural exchange and creativity. This year’s festival is expected to feature over 40 divergent productions in various disciplines and styles ranging from established acts to upcoming talent.

While the festival is hosted at the National Theater, events and performances have been spread out in different locations being as there are as many as 15 different events in a day. This also allows the audience freedom to choose which event to attend at a given time. The designated areas include the main stage, the auditorium, the greenroom, and other spaces.

Most music performances are being conducted at the main stage which is set up in the parking lot. Opening the stage yesterday was the Zawuka Band at 6 pm. This was followed by Titan & San Cee at 7 pm, Namata & Mark at 8 pm, followed by Lylit and Band at 9. Baximba Waves was slated for 10 pm and Bebe Cool to rock the stage 11 pm.

However, I only managed to catch the Zawuka (rise up) Band at 6 pm shortly after watching the break dance hip-hop performance that ended a few minutes to 6. Zawuka is a young band of six artistes doing Afro-soul with a funky and jazz blend. Initially I intended to drop by for not more than 5 minutes before I could run back to the auditorium for the poetry session slated for 6 pm. But having been informed that the poetry session will be held on Sunday, I decided to hang around a bit longer as I waited for the Uganda National Contemporary Ballet (UNCB) performance back in the auditorium to kick off at 7 pm.

UNCB staged a beautifully choreographed play titled Memories of Child Solders which attracted a full house in the auditorium. This 52 minute story revolves around the physical and emotional turmoil that characterizes the life of over half a million children under eighteen who have been recruited into government armed forces and civil militias in over eighty five countries. It tries to portray the nightmares, horror, fear, and a destroyed childhood before the victims are brought back to a civil life with these deep scars.

The particular tear jerking moment was a depiction of little girls who had been raped more times than they could keep count of and found themselves having to mother children; a traumatizing experience they were neither physically nor emotionally developed enough to deal with. And just when they seem to be adjusting to this new motherly experience, the soldiers come back, gang rape the girls and bludgeon their children who are considered as obstacles.

Memories of Child Solders was followed by a performance from Bakayimbira Dramactors at 8 pm. Meanwhile at the same time, those on the dance floor were preparing for the headphone disco with Dj Rachael and VJ Ivan. Unfortunately I couldn’t catch any of these last events because I was leaving around this time.

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