Museveni intervenes as travel advisories mount on Nyege Nyege festival

Friday November 10 2023

Partygoers at a past Nyege Nyege festival. PHOTO | NMG


President Yoweri Museveni on Thursday intervened to save a famous festival from collapse on the weight of travel warnings from the United Kingdom and the United States citing terror threates.

The highly publicised annual Nyege Nyege festival was due in Jinja, some 80 kilometres east of Kampala from Thursday.

Usually popular among locals and foreigners alike, it had only recently emerged from Covid-19 restrictions in Uganda. But now it faces threats from violent extremists.

The United States and United Kingdom’s diplomatic missions in Uganda issued separate warnings to their respective nationals not to crowded events, including the widely attended Nyege Nyege festival, because of the terror threat in Uganda.

Read: UK warns against travel to Uganda after attack

“There is a growing terror threat in Uganda, including the targeting of foreigners. Avoid large gatherings, including large scale worship, and music and cultural festivals in Uganda,” the statement from the UK embassy warned.


The US Mission in Kampala issued an advisory on Thursday directing its staff not to attend the Nyege Nyege festival.

“Due to security concerns, we advise US citizens not to attend the festival.”

The terror warnings were also echoed by the Irish Embassy in Uganda, advising their citizens to avoid large gatherings.

But Museveni promptly said the country was safe. “The security forces are guarding the pre-prepared public functions like the Nyege Nyege, the Kyabazinga wedding, etc,” he assured, also referring to a local king who was expected to tie a knot.

In his letter to the nation, posted on X, the president said the Ugandan army had captured the suspected leader of the Allied Democratic Force group of 10 that killed two tourists and their Ugandan driver in Queen Elizabeth National Park on October 17, 2023.

David Barlow and Celia Barlow, on a honeymoon in Uganda, were killed alongside their guide Eric Ayai by suspected ADF rebels, who Museveni described as acting out of desperation after their hideouts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, were destroyed by the combined force of Uganda and the Congolese army.

Read: Suspected ADF rebels kill tourists in Uganda

The operation has been going on since November 2021, although the rebels have continued to kill people both within Uganda and Congo.

“Following the devastating attacks by the UPDF ever since November 2021, they have now discovered that the forests are death traps. Hence, small groups are trying to re-enter Uganda and commit acts of terror in the vain hope that we shall withdraw from Congo. We will not. Instead, we are re-enforcing our strength there,” Museveni added. 

The UPDF killed the suspect killers of the tourists as they tried to cross Lake Albert in Western Uganda.