The atmosphere was already turned up on Saturday by the time I reached the venue as the deejays were engaging the attendees with heavy, old-school hip-hop beats that had so many breakers cocooning in small groups with each showcasing their crafts to the amazement and support of their friends as they rolled, spun, wind milled, rocked, froze and popped as well as others were seen in solo points trying to polish up their moves for what was coming ahead. By the time it reached 4 p.m., Jora MC, the official breakfast-jam emcee was on the microphone calling upon the breakers to warm up for their showcases and the revelers to get their best positions from where to catch site of the battles.
I would not be shy to say that this is the biggest dance event in Uganda if not East and Central Africa at the moment. The breakfast jam dance competition which is an annual hip hop themed event organized by Freshlane, an initiative working to empower young people socially and economically through cultivating and elevating art, culture, education and facilitating creative development. It comprises visual artists, community organizers, educators and hip-hop artists. It also encompasses competitive old school hip-hop dance genres and elements of b-boying, break dancing, popping as well as other non-competitive crafts like emceeing, deejaying, workshops, rap, beat boxing, vocal percussion, exhibitions and hip-hop vending, live graffiti mural painting, traditional drumming among others.
Like it has always been, the breakfast jam finals which are held annually for two days in November follow a series of nationwide elimination rounds that are regionally held to sort out the best breakers of both genders and various age brackets and then come down to Kampala and compete for the top respective categories. This however does not deter other nationalists to represent as it also involves guest performers and competitors from Europe and the nearby countries. Talk about the pamoja spirit.
This year, a number of international competitors and performers were hosted like; Amy True, Logic, Juliano and Apex (UK rappers), BBK Bboys Crew (Tanzania), Mazzi (U.S.A) and the Holy Dance Unit (DRC) Aiknow Lisma & Niina Namaganda (crazy, right) Obi1 (break dancer from Finland), Dj Mantain (UK), Bboy Obi 1 (Finland), Sammy Deluxe (German), Bboy Kiwembe (Rwanda), Bboy Jijo (Kenya), Salvado (D.R.C) Johnson (Tanzania) and many more as well as local performers like Hatimax, Kwizera, Byg Ben, MC Yallah, Big Sam, Pryce Teeba, Fahadhi & Bella, Sisa MC, Moxon Gidi, Target Squad, Ibra Buwembo Dance Crew as well as the Nilotika band and a little South American flavor from the Capoera Senzala team. They also had their home deejays, Dj Issa, Dj Snuff as well as Dj Bent.
By 5 p.m., the battle lots were cast as the floor was opened by the solo kids’ battles that ended with two boys heading to the finals that were slated for Sunday. A number of performances were done as well including a capoela session from Capoera Senzala and a live performance from Mc Yalla. The B-girl competitions included Aiknow & Niina from Finland which ended with both visiting girls heading to the finals after Aiknow defeated b-girl Jojo of Uganda who was the defending champion and as well went on to win the category. The climax of Saturday was the 3 on 3 crew battles that started in elimination rounds and had the crowd wowed with every flip, flop, trick and skill and later had the BBK B-boys Crew from Tanzania crowned winners of the duel. It is like these boys came to school us. Believe me.
By the time it clocked 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, people were already swarming the place especially those in the popping categories as it was their day and by the time their category ended, popper Shema E’saaya was the winner after defeating the defending champion Popping Weekend. The Solo Kids Battle were also decided then and were won by b-boy Ndawula Ronald who was actually defending himself doing moves that would put a number of other b-boys to test. The One on One Battles that were won by Kimuli Steven Valentine aka Bboy Droplets Flower were as well held. We had a change in taste when we were given performances from the afro-pop maestro Ibra Buwembo and his crew that lit up the stage with waist wriggling and Lingala vibes as well as a very energetic and well-choreographed dancehall performance from the Target Squad that had the place vibrating with riddim after riddim.
But the climax of the day was yet to come in form of the seven to smoke category where eight breakers are set to battle amongst themselves for twenty five minutes and the person with the maximum points at the end of time is announced winner. Trust me, much as we were raucous with every move, we at the same time held our breaths as the boys seemed to be tearing not only themselves but floor apart as well. It was so intense you could feel the energy with every move a performer made and by the time the winner was announced, excitement and as well restlessness were all over our faces. The category was won by Bbosa Reneus aka B-boy Bbosa who I best believe is the best b-boy in Uganda as he is set to represent Africa (yeah, you read that right) in the Taipei Bboy City 2018 World Finals in Taiwan. Yes, the boy is that major.
This year’s competition was sponsored of course by Viva Con Agua, Talent Africa, Breakdance Project Uganda, Dukem Ethiopian Restaurant, Mos Opten, Gagawala Graphics, Imagination Circle, Top Nation Japan, SUVV Japan, Cypher Code Japan and Infinite Records with special thanks to YMCA for the venue.
Do not forget that these awesome shots were by Kibuuka Photography.