U.S-based Rwandan singer The Ben performed before thousands of fans in a historic homecoming concert on New Year’s Day at Amahoro National Stadium Parking.
The highly awaited East African Party concert organised by East African Promoters (EAP) left fans begging for more as the Habibi singer put up an ecstatic live performance which left fans yearning for more.
The Ben, real name Benjamin Mugisha show, six years after he left the country, was arguably one of the biggest music events to happen in Rwanda in recent years.
The RnB singer took to the stage at exactly 9:20pm, after he was introduced by Tom Close, a fellow singer and personal friend. Tom Close took time off to talk about the music journey of The Ben, how they started out, and what made him who he is right now.
“He is brilliant and talented,” Tom Close said, before the Chicago-based singer stepped on stage, clad in a white t-shirt, black tattered jeans and a black leather jacket.
Supported by students of Nyundo School of Music and Art, The Ben arrived on stage singing Ko Nahindutse before he paused to greet the crowd. It was an emotional moment for him and the fans as they could not hold back tears of joy.
“I love you so much, I love you from the bottom of my heart,” he told the crowd before adding that “I’m back home,” repeatedly.
The singer let go of his jewellery including a watch, chains and other things he threw into the crowd one by one as he performed some songs from the past including Wigenda and Amaso Ku Maso which made him popular before he left.
In between the performance, the singer would speak fondly of his country and what it means to be Rwandan before he sung the hit Ntacyadutanya, which features U.S-based Rwandan songstress Priscillah, and Only You which he features legendary singer Ben Kayiranga.
In a performance that lasted two hours, he performed a rendition of the classic Rwanda Nziza, Ndi Uwi Kigali, Ese Nibyo, I’m in Love, and Amahirwe Yanyuma.
As he was getting ready to perform Inshuti Nyanshuti, he introduced his “American parents”, the U.S family that took him in when he got to the North American country.
“I’m so proud of these people. They became my dearest parents when I got to the US. There’s a lesson I learnt from this; keeping the Rwandan identity will always take you places,” he emotionally told the excited fans.
The singer performed most of his hit songs including Rahira featuring Liza Kamikazi, Zubeda which features afrobeat singer Kamichi. He performed Impfubyi with rapper Bulldog before inviting his brother Green P to perform together Kwicuma. Later he sung Sinarinkuzi with Tom Close. The songs evoked nostalgic memories among music lovers.
The Ben completed his breathtaking performance with Roho Yange, which he dedicated to the people of Rwanda, and wrapped with his hit song Habibi, which he dedicated to President Paul Kagame, noting that Rwanda owes what it is to good leadership.
Just before The Ben took to the stage, RnB crooner Bruce Melodie had delivered an amazingly beautiful performance, setting the stage for The Ben’s mega performance. Melodie performed some of his hit songs including Ndakwanga, Ndumiwe, Turaberanye and Complete Me among others.
The show featured other ecstatic performances from the duo of Charly and Nina, and rising star Yvan Buravan, and deejays like DJ Bisoso and DJ Phil Peter. It was hosted by emcee Tino.