Techno, soukous, abstract electronics – the Nyege Nyege collective draws from the cultural melting pot of Kampala’s music scene. But unlike other European visitors, it also gives something back
The southern outskirts of Kampala are teeming with life, but head off the main strip leading to Ggaba beach and you will find Kawaku road: a quieter, wide, red and dusty street lined by a mixture of homespun shacks, open dried-up storm drains, and recently constructed villas. It’s also where you will find the home of Derek Debru, co-founder of Nyege Nyege, a collective of musicians from around the world who are turning the music scene in the Ugandan capital on its head.
“We want to showcase sounds from across the continent into one experience,” says Belgium-born Debru, a chain-smoking idealist with a wild, unkempt beard, who, along with Arlen Dilsizian – a Greek-Armenian academic with an encyclopaedic knowledge of musical ethnography – was attracted to the city by “the energy, the freedom and the easiness of the people”. Together, they have created a community in Kampala with little precedent in Africa.