At many art festivals there are usually three groups- those who create art, those who appreciate art, and those who have no clue!
The 7th edition of the Laba Street Art festival with its motto “Open Studio” set out to not only showcase the work of visual and performing artists in Uganda but also give the audience an opportunity to see the process behind the finished products.
Opening at 11am, people trickled in at around that time. The morning drizzle kept most away from Mackinnon road where the festival was taking place. At around 3pm is when the lines started forming, groups of people strolled in ranging from white Ugandans with their kids to teenage Ugandans with crazy hairstyles and hiphop looks. There was no entry free.
As the grey clouds frittered away, the energy of the event started off. There was lots of nyama choma on sale and the usual rolex stalls as well beverages from Coca Cola and Bavaria. There was a lot to look forward to including the Street Theatre and Circus, Uganda National Contemporary Ballet and Faisal, to mention but a few.
The street as well as the grounds (Nakasero Primary School sports grounds) where divided into sections, 5 of them colour-coded; Blue, Green, Red, Orange and Yellow. The stage and an area called “others”.
Art lovers had a lot to gorge on seeing as there were displays of art everywhere. Pieces from Juuko Hoods to those of Ismael Kateregga, Colin Sekajuggo and others some of who got to sell their art pieces off. Not to mention items such as t-shirts, sandals, pottery, rugs all with a touch of art.
The idea of Open Studio should have presented a very engaging festival, however not many of the artists, particularly the visual ones, took part in the process of presenting how a work comes to life. The girls of Girl BE project nonetheless took this seriously and got to show how many t-shirts are printed showcasing the screen technology. There was also the live pottery session not to mention SUAT Tattoos who explained the process of tattooing, adding that it was not as painful as most people thought. Despite this assertion though, no one seemed to want a tattoo done.
Photos from the event
The Bavubuka Dynasty Foundation had a very engaging young girl explaining the roots of bavubuka and their reason for engaging in social action, explaining part of their means was through hiphop and fashion. They played hiphop videos in the background.
In Movement was very active on the day, providing some of the drum beat music before the main artists took to the stage.
Resource centres were available for British Council, Alliance Française, and Goethe-Zentrum to cater for the needs of those who wanted to engage in study opportunities. Bayimba whose festivals have now gained popularity were also on hand to give information on their organisation.
Training Center for Gardening and Landscaping allowed people to use any of their items to create pieces. Most of it was flowers and green vegetation.
As the evening dawned, the performers came on with the energetic and soulful Ife Piankhi as the master of ceremonies. The Street Theatre and Circus did a lot to cheer up the not so big crowd. The performers were mainly teenage boys who even though did not really pull off the slapstick effect, managed to get several laughs from the crowd.
As the evening commenced, and the booths were taken down, the stage came alive with several performances that would go on till 11pm. Magic Horns had a thrilling performance followed by a number of singers set to the sound of the Pearl Rhythm Africa. These included Juliet Ssesanga of the erstwhile Big Five, Sandy Soul whose voice was a revelation, and Ife Piankhi who simply knows how to get a party started in Kampala.
Shortly after Maraka band ignited the crowd with their distinct African sounds. At this time, the moon was hiding behind the clouds and the crowd were scattered all over the grounds in tents sipping on different drinks. The night was crowned with performances from Rachel Magoola, Susan Kerunen and Jamal.