Turkana did not choose her stage name by chance. Born in South Sudan, she had to flee her country at the age of five, due to the war. It was in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya – one of the largest in the world – that she then spent a good part of her youth with her mother. But Anita Kevin, her Christian name, refuses to be a “lost child of Sudan”. She knows her story, clings to it and is inspired by it. “I wanted to pay tribute to these people. Before leaving the camp, I was almost a teenager and I was already starting to learn the basics of production. The population makes sure to create things on site, there are even DIY studios, ”says the 25-year-old DJ and producer who says she is proud to represent Kakuma into music and get something “positive and bright” out of it.
Uganda: DJ Kampire’s mixes, between fury and sensuality
Now based in Uganda, in Kampala, Turkana is the image of the Nyege Nyege generation, a hotbed of the Ugandan electronic scene which means “the irresistible and sudden desire to dance” in Luganda, free and creative. Clean-shaven platinum blonde hair and peroxide eyebrows contrasting with her ebony skin, black crop top and checkerboard print pants, the “ambient” is visiting France to represent the coolest and most important electro festival in South Africa. ‘Is, born in 2015 along Lake Victoria, in the city of Jinja. She will indeed perform under the banner of the Ugandan event at the Les Escales de Saint-Nazaire festival at the end of July, with her comrade Kabeaushé. A sign of a certain fame and growing growth for the Nyege Nyege, which welcomed some 12,000 visitors in 2019 and 150 artists from all over the world (Japan, United States, China, etc.). And which will be exported for the first time to Paris on July 16.
Djing, a women’s affair
While waiting for the local September edition, the young woman tumbles behind her turntables on the set of a French radio station dedicated to the genre and sends her first electronic loops. If Kenya has the gengetone, South Africa, the gqom – two genres born in the ghettos – Uganda draws its inspiration from the traditional music of the acholi, revisiting DIY wedding pieces on the computer. But Turkana sees more. “I am inspired by the sounds of South Sudan and the Arab music that my mother listened to, but also by the rhythms of the Congo, and even African-American rap”, lists the sound assembler. Percussive rhythms, roaring basses, samples…She holds the controllers, headphones screwed on one ear, with confidence.
Nyege Nyege villa in Kampala is the most awesome place in the world, where all the artists learn and collaborate together
It’s because the twenty-something wants to prove that djing is also a women’s affair. “In an industry dominated by men, it is very important for us to support and learn from each other, to create a collective energy, poses the one who can count on her “sisters” – who represent 70% of the programming of the Ugandan festival – when she goes to the Nyege Nyege villa in Kampala, “the most brilliant place in the world where all the artists learn and collaborate together”, she enthuses.
DJ Turkana takes over the decks at the official @sautizabusara Nyege Nyege after party happening now at Beach House, Zanzibar. #NyegeNyegeTour #sautizabusara2020
Posted by NYEGE NYEGE on Monday, February 17, 2020
It was in 2018 that Turkana arrived at the studio to participate in a workshop and that she meets the Belgian Derek Debru, one of the founders of what is much more than a festival. Collective, label, hub, recording studio, artists’ residence… The Nyege Nyege is a space for learning and networking, and a safe space where everyone can express themselves freely, and which participates in the development of a scene that has twice been threatened by the country’s religious conservatives.
The 2017 and 2018 editions narrowly missed cancellation under pressure from the Department of Ethics and Integrity, accusing the event of being a symbol of “the decadence of the country”. “It was enough for a queer artist to perform for the state to tax the gay demonstration festival, when it should put in place laws to protect this community, protests the creator of the LGBT musical collective Anti-Mass. We live in a system that does not support young people. This is what we meet at Nyege Nyege for. Our music is an act of résistance. »