Skip to main content

Nyege Nyege Tapes’ Duke and MCZO denied entry into the US

They had been due to play for Red Bull Music Festival in New York...

Tanzanian artists and affiliates of Uganda's Nyege Nyege collective Duke and MCZO were due to play a Nyege Nyege-related event in New York over the weekend as part of Red Bull Music Festival.

In a Facebook post, they've explained that they were forced to pull the appearance however after they were denied entry to the US. Despite backing from their label, agent and lawyer, as well as Red Bull and New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, they say that the application for a month-long visa was turned down. The show, their statement explains, would have allowed them to perform in New York "for a fee that is more than our combined families make in a year".

The statement continues: "NOTHING could prove that we did not intend to run away illegally once checked in at our Holiday Inn... The consular authorities seemed to sincerely think that there was a 'better life' available for us there, that we would not resist to chase.

"The current situation in America does not indicate any sign that we would find more freedom, happiness and success there, or does it? The fact that we fill stadiums in Dar Es Salaam and are loved by millions in our country, that we have a tour schedule that has us play everywhere in the world, despite being featured in the Guardian, the Economist, FACT magazine, it wasn't enough to portray ourselves as Cultural Ambassadors. They saw us as Ambassadors who would abandon their post as soon as landed, leaving our national duty to present our culture behind and, instead, hide. That's what they saw."

The duo also shared a mix they've recorded especially for fans that weren't able to see them at the New York show, which you can hear below, and extended an invitation to people to visit them in their home base of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.

Catch up on our recent interview with another Nyege Nyege affiliate, Kampala-based Slikback, here, and listen to a track from Duke, MCZO and collaborator Don Tach from earlier this year here.