Nyege Nyege of Silence


Welcome back from Jinja, you happy Ugandans who attended the Nyege Nyege dance festival there this weekend.
For those who live in Jinja and attended same festival, welcome back to a Jinja that is more sober.
I am sure you all had a good time and were invigorated with a new appreciation of African music, as well as a new appreciation of prophylactics and indoor plumbing.

I was not there myself but you do have my honest and sincere envy, and not just because you had so much fun, but also because eh mama, music fans have everything don’t they?

You don’t understand it until you try to avoid it but there is music everywhere these days. Every single cubed inch of the urban atmosphere, it often seems, is perpetually vibrating with something either kidandali, dancehall, Chris Brown or that limp schamltz they call smooth “jazz”, that I, personally, prefer to call the shartmark on music’s underwear.

Every public space: restaurant, bank, taxi, boda, the entire mall, the trading centre, the office, the dentists’, there is always going to be a speaker somewhere assiduously grinding out some Kenzo, Bebe, Sheebah, Ariana Grande, or Kool and The Gang.
Even at your suburb home, late in the night, the distant thudding of a bar flinging Nwagi, Zizza or 1990s house music into the dark.

Which is fine, as long as it isn’t Rick Ross or Iggy Azalea, because they are repulsive and they make a mockery of every microphone they touch by claiming to be the “realest” yet they are as fake as, statistically, 67% of the orgasms at Nyege Nyege. (Freaky outdoor chase might seem thrilling at first but after a short while she is reminded of things like mosquitoes and then starts to think, “Let’s wrap this up.”)

Pervasiveness of pop is not necessary a problem, in fact you may not necessarily become aware of how much it is until you actually start to look for silence.

“Silence? What for?” you ask.

For reading, I answer.

Call me old fashioned, or just old (certainly not fashioned, because I will wear my chucks with khaki pants and there won’t be a fuck to give in sight) but silence is what I always believed to be the best reading environment.

Even long standing intellectual tradition agrees. In our school days, when they expected us to concentrate, they forbade every sound, every whisper, every hoarse cough. They were sick sadists a lot of the time because who canes a kid for coughing, but the point was made that proper reading is done quietly.
In fact that was the major feature of those grand institutuions we used to have, what you might call the Nyege Nyeges of reading, libraries, that they were always always heavily, profoundly, silent.

Nyege Nyege of reading would be a great idea wouldnt it? A grand festival of reading?
Not talking about reading or enjoying readers, not a festival of books, we have those, props to Writivism, and to SoooManyStories, but I am talking about something even grander here.

Thousands of readers gather at a Nile river campsite, some place wild and unelectrified, where no EV speaker dares to tread.
An array of stalls featuring different books to chose and pick from; small troops of waiters to fetch coffee, tea or wine; maybe a stack of kindles you can rent for the festival– log on and download your books onto them for the weekend– maybe a supply of pens and notebooks on tap and no sound but the river and the sky.

No talking. You only talk in the hushedest tones and in limited spurts. Otherwise just a long, beautiful, serenity.

We should do that. We dance enough as it is.