Imagine escaping the hustle and bustle of Kampala city for a camping weekend only two hours away in a vibrant quiet village near Masaka. This is exactly what the WeaverBird arts community provides you.
Ndegeya is a village located 3kms outside Masaka town center. Ndegeya is Lugandan for the crafty weaver bird and the community was the brain child of Collin Sekajugo who, with the help of Sheila Nakitende, Hassan Mukiibi, Ronex Ahimbisibwe, Daudi Karundi, and Henry Mujunga (to mention only a few) have spent the past two years using art to change the lives of the community’s inhabitants.
Their goal is to use art to contribute to the economic development of village by transforming it into a first-of-its-kind community for the arts and a tourism hub for Uganda. The village attract artists, whether local or international, who are interested in both art and community development.
Ndegeya has a public sculpture park and camp site (Ndegeya Sculpture Park), a children’s community library (Cochico Lib), and an international artists’ residency program which aims at exchanges with artists from all over the world who bring their expertise to the community.
Art Camps are one important part of the community which brings together artists from all over East African to retreat, interact and create at the Camp Ndegeya Camping Site while conducting art workshops with the local people. Art camps take place every three months. The Sculpture Park and camping site has various sculptures and artwork from prominent artists like Ronex Ahimbisibwe, Julius Katende, Collin Sekajugo and mural paintings from various artists.
There is also the annual Weaverbird fiestArt – an Art Festival which was inaugurated this year and held from the 24th – 26th August 2012. The festival was attended by artists from Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, and England, as well as Uganda.
Performances were given by Daudi Karugi and Henry Mzili, a children’s workshop was conducted by Gadi Ramadhani from Tanzania, a sculpture workshop was held by Roca Gutteridge with Weaverbird community members and Faisal Kiwewa of Bayimba Arts, Papa Shabani introduced grafitti to the community youths and Martyn Linkyn held a poetry workshop.
At Ndegeya, anyone can spend a weekend, or holiday camping. It is a great chance to get away while still engaging with public art in Uganda.
The camping site is situated on a hill with a great view of the surrounding area providing amazing sunrises and sunsets as well as good material for an artist. The air is fresh since the place is surrounded by lots of plants, especially eucalyptus trees. At the foot of the campsite there’s a secluded space called, ‘The lair’ that’s great for yoga/meditation enthusiasts, couples, writers or for a quiet read. At night there is a fire pit and usually it hosts poets who do spoken word sessions.
The camping fee is extremely affordable being 10,000 UGX for the whole period of time you intend to camp. Campers are encouraged to bring their own tents but if they don’t, they can hire tents from the camp site for 10,000 UGX per day.
Campers are also required to bring their own food and drinks however on request the camp staff can provide food and drinks that can be purchased on site.
The camp site has reasonably modern bathrooms with running water and flushing toilets. There is also an art space for those who are adventurous and want to create something while there as well as a kitchen and a bedroom that accommodates 4 people at a time.
To get to Weaverbird it’s roughly a two hour journey by car. When reaching the big roundabout in Masaka Town Center that joins the Kampala/Masaka/ Mbarara roads, drive down the Mbarara highway and make the second right. There is a big sign on the main road. About 3kms from the highway continue toward Ssaza and this cuts through to Weaverbird. A bus or matatu from the New Taxi Park to Masaka Town center should cost about 10,000 UGX and when in Masaka get a boda boda to Ndegeya which should cost 2,000 UGX during the day and 2,500 UGX at night.