Peter Wallenberg, a Swedish artist and humans rights artist, visited Uganda towards Pride Uganda 2016; his visit saw him record an album featuring many Ugandan queer voices. The album dubbed Rainbow Riots was last week officially premiered during Stockholm Pride and some of the Ugandan voices that appear on the musical recording were in attendance.
During an interview with a Swedish online paper QX, Wallenberg shed light on what the Rainbow Riots project was all about. “It will be the live world premiere of Rainbow Riots with me and my guest artists from Uganda, Malawi, Senegal and Jamaica. We will offer a spectacular show with the songs from the album. The album came under the violent police council of Uganda Pride last year. Then I and my Ugandan partners held hostage by the police who stopped them from performing and arrested and abusing many of the attempts. We did not know if we were to live or die. In the midst of the danger and the terrible thing we joined together and the Rainbow Riots became so much more than just music. We have become an international movement, and the project has been acclaimed throughout the world and honored by the BBC. Best of all, it has given so much boost to vulnerable Hbtq people world. Now my coworkers come to Sweden from all over the world as first Ugandan, Malawian and Jamaican Hbtq artists who have ever performed internationally! It's a historic moment!”
The journey for the few people that made it for the Stockholm Pride wasn’t without hurdles. Wallenberg, on his facebook page also shared the difficulty in attaining visas for all the people that took part on the album as well as the hold up in Kigali for those that made the trip.
“After more than two years of working together on the Rainbow Riots project this week will be the big crescendo of the world premiere of our music LIVE in front of an international audience.
The plan was to get all of our Ugandan performers over - but it proved extremely difficult to get visas. After months of work on the application process for 15 people - only got 4 visas to Europe. The risk that they will not return to Uganda is apparently deemed to great. And we nearly didn't get this group over at all as they were held up in Rwanda and refused to leave because of visa issues. For 24 hours. None of us could sleep. It's been a nightmare.
But now they have finally arrived! We are so happy to welcome our Ugandan team and invite you all to come to our shows on Friday and Saturday. Happy Pride!,” read Wallenberg’s post.
Rainbow Riots is not just an album, it is also a non profit organisation registered both in Uganda and Sweden. Its main aim is to see a world where every human lives free from prejudice and where lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people are free to be who they are without persecution and discrimination.