Uganda’s Milege Festival returns to Botanical Gardens in Entebbe

Cultural heritage and African music will take centre stage as Milege World Music festival returns to the Botanical Gardens between 25 and 27 November in Entebbe, Uganda for its fourth edition.

Ugandan artist Haka Mukiga. Photo:
Ugandan artist Haka Mukiga. Photo:

This year the festival, which first held in 2014 under the name Milege World Music festival, will pay special focus on women in the arts and culture realm. “This year we have a special focus on women in the arts. So most of our acts away from the main stage are women,” Manani Birabi of Milege World festival says.

Milege started out as a music band in 2009 with a focus on promoting folk traditional Ugandan music using both modern and traditional music instruments. The guitar, the ankle rattles and the traditional drums made the first sounds of the band. With the focus of further showcasing premium African music in its pure indigenous and experimental forms, the festival arm was born in 2013 and for the first time the Repainting Uganda World Music Festival was held on the shores of Lake Victoria. In 2014 the festival rebranded to Milege World Music Festival and found a home at the Botanical Gardens where it has been held since.

Festival acts

The festival’s objective is reflected in the diverse line up of artists, including Uganda’s afro-fusion folk musician Giovanni Kremer Kiyingi, Haka Mukiga and the Milege Band. The festival will also have traditional dance and music troupes perform at the three-day festival.  While the Ingyenzi Dance Troupe will seek to thrill attendees with the graceful movements of Ingyenzi’s women punctuated by high energetic drum dances from the men. Northern Uganda’s Watmon Dance Troupe will on the other hand share the rich Acholi culture that still stands out as a highlight of Uganda’s arts scene.

Founded by Mathew Watmon, the cultural troupe has been at the forefront of Acholi dance for nearly 50 years, a very extraordinary dance tradition that was cherished by General Idi Amin in the 1970’s. The tradition of the Acholi dances are an invaluable treasure, a fine blend of history, present and future. These dances range from war dances, marriage dances, courtship dances, funeral dances, harvesting dances among others.

“We are also trying to give stage to art forms that one would not ordinarily find on most stages, that’s why we give stage to many troupes,” Birabi explains about this year’s line-up.

Giovanni who recently released his album Amakondeere (loosely translates to Horns and trumpets of Africa) is expected to thrill with his unique blend of modern and traditional folk music. His 12-track album is a rich compilation of music that draws from old Ugandan folk stories.

Haka Mukiga on the hand will present his rich repertoire that reflects Uganda’s Rukiga traditional culture. The epitome of Rukiga music, Mukiga is a dancer, song writer, multi-instrumentalist and ethnomusicologist who embraces African music and believes intellectual property is very vital in the civilization of a culture or society hence rejuvenating and disseminating it for the current and future generations.

The expectations are high this year for the organizers. And, going by the artists lineup, the festival, which prides itself for heritage preservation, will not disappoint enthusiasts of culture and traditions.

Birabi says that they are keen on staging a show that is both fun yet informative and original, to create a memorable experience for all festival-goers. “The event started as a small one hosting about 300, in 2015 the numbers grew to 1600 and in 2016 we anticipate an even bigger audience,” Birabi further states. 


Tickets to the festival cost UGX 50000 ($13.84). For more information, visit the festival website.


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