LaBa! festival to take over the streets of Uganda's capital

Bukoto Street in Kamwokya, Kampala will come alive when the tenth edition of the LaBa! Arts Festival takes place on Saturday 11 June.

Haka Mukiga will perform at the LaBa! Festival in Kampala.
Haka Mukiga will perform at the LaBa! Festival in Kampala.

The LaBa! Arts Festival started in 2007 as an initiative of a group of Ugandan visual artists with the goal of showing art in public spaces, outside conventional art spaces, to reach new audiences. Their vision was simple: art is for everyone! Since then, LaBa! has not only attracted a large number of visitors but also developed into a platform for upcoming artists to showcase their work. Over the years the festival has become a unique event that unifies all artforms once a year and transforms the street into an open-air gallery where creative people can meet, share and discuss ideas.

Now in its tenth year, making it one of the oldest festivals in the country, the 2016 edition of LaBa! will focus on interaction as its central theme. With art regarded as being able to lead to constructive dialogue and open up new horizons, both performing and visual artists will showcase their talents. On the musical front, a line-up has been put together (following a call for artists earlier this year) that includes both contemporary and traditional artists who will bring unique Ugandan sounds to thrill festival goers. 

Afrique Sounds is a Ugandan band formed by Meserebende Hytham Ssali in 2008. Envoys of 'roots music', the band will blend their blistering melodies with the vibrant experimentation of the achogo, adungu and endingidi drums, backed up by keyboards and other percussion.

Ugandan folk artist Giovanni Kremer Kiyingi is a multi-instrumentalist whose music is characterised by rich instrumental textures and rhythmic influences from Uganda and beyond, innovatively fused to create a unique sound that defines him as an artist.

Ann Nassanga - better known by her stage name Afrie - is a 21-year-old Ugandan vocalist, pianist and songwriter. Her songs span various genres but focus mainly on Afro-soul and contemporary folk.

Conducted by Katy Chadwick, the Kampala Voices community choir is made up of singers from Uganda and other parts of the world who sing acapella harmonies with various musical influences, including traditional African harmonies, well-known Ugandan songs as well as political or freedom songs.

Other artists who are set to perform at the LaBa! Arts Festival include local favourites Haka Mukiga, reggae crew Ras Clan Entertainment, rapper Ruyonga, Sandy Soul and Sabar Zibula, a six-man band with members from three different nationalities (Uganda, USA and Senegal) led by Mame N'diak.

The festival is staged with support from the Goethe-Zentrum Kampala, the Danish Centre for Culture and Development, Bayimba and others. It takes place from 12 noon until late and is free to the public. For more information visit the Laba! website or Facebook page. For highlights of last year's festival, watch the video below.

 

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