The Kigali Convention Centre concert hall lit up last night as international stars and local musicians performed to roars of enthusiasm, one after the other.
The free concert kicked off at 6pm prompt, with local musicians setting the stage, beginning with Riderman. Top hits from Sauti Sol, The Ben, Peter of P-Square, DJ Switch, and Charly na Nina sent a crowd of thousands up singing and cheering until after 10p.m. Other local artistes Phionah Mbabazi and Mani Martin also graced the stage, sparking energetic praise from the audience.
Artistes performing in the final event of the Ibrahim Forum last weekend brought their very best to a diverse audience of people, old and young, from around the globe. Sauti Sol announced that Youssou NDour, the highly anticipated Senegalese artiste, was absent due to the death of his bassist, Habib Faye, who passed away on Wednesday aged 52.
A moment of silence was then observed for the deceased before the show continued.
Sauti Sol, the well-loved afro-pop group from Nairobi, was as exceptional as ever, gifting us with their soaring vocals, sequined jackets and effortless dance moves. The performance of hits such as ‘Melanin’ and ‘Kuliko Jana’ and others gave the audience much anticipation for the rest of their collaborative LP Afrikan Sauce, currently being released in monthly singles.
The day’s MCs, Makeda and Lion Imanzi kept the crowd entertained and dancing in between acts.
Attendees reserved tickets on Sunday at Amahoro National Stadium, before getting free transportation to the Convention Centre. Their enthusiasm for each performing act seemed inexhaustible.
“I came for all of them, I love them all,” said concertgoer Patrick Remezo, “but especially Sauti Sol.”
Performers gave special shout-outs to Mo Ibrahim for sponsoring the event, and Paul Kagame, for his strong leadership, which was highlighted this weekend at the forum on public services moderated by Mo Ibrahim.
“Ndagukundacyane! (I love you so much),” said Sauti Sol vocalist Bien-AiméBaraza during the band’s set. He commended Rwanda for its continuous recovery and development since the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
“Yesterday was my first time I came to Rwanda on the public work day [Umuganda],” he continued, “I was so humbled when I saw everybody cleaning up. I want to talk to the President of Kenya to ask him to talk to our people so that we become like Rwandans. You guys are the greatest.”
Messages from other performers were equally positive.
“Africa, this is your time!” the group announced before sending the crowd, again, into spirited celebration. One or two passionate members of the crowd surfed the multitude beneath the flashing lights and booming bassline. The sound and energy from the room caused one light to fall from the ceiling. No one was reported injured.
The concert brought the Mo Ibrahim Forum to a celebratory and passionate end, continuing the weekend’s spirit of cross cultural collaboration and support. The theme of this year’s forum – public service in 21st century Africa – was effortlessly exemplified by each performing act and the event coordination that made the evening possible.