Kwita Izina Concert: How Ne-Yo got everyone hooked

Ne-Yo entertains revelers at the Kwita Izina Concert. / Emmanuel Kwizera

In the music industry, they say once a star, always a star. It doesn’t matter when your music was topping the Billboard charts. Once your name was written among the stars, you will never cease to be one. Such is the case for American RnB singer Ne-Yo.

Only the ‘Miss Independent’ singer would be able to reawaken a sleepy crowd after a lengthy lull in music between U.S-based singer Meddy performance and the next performer.


The earlier abuzz fully packed Kigali Arena was left in murmurs of dissatisfaction after the ‘Slowly’ singer was hurriedly got off the stage to pave way for the performance of Ne-Yo. It would take almost an hour before the American singer could get on the stage.


Hosted by MCs Tino and Ange Umulisa, the annual event was organized by Rwanda Development Board (RDB) as part of the fundraising campaign held at the Kwita Izina Gala Dinner held before the concert at Kigali Convention Centre to support mountain gorilla conservation.


It was the first concert to be held at the state-of-the-art Kigali Arena and it got sold out. More than 500 people could not get tickets.

The Grammy Award winner, born Shaffer Chimere Smith, had to do his best to fire up the crestfallen crowd. It took only one song for Ne-Yo to change the atmosphere in the fully packed arena as the crowd insisted that Meddy returns.

DJs’ Marnaud and Toxxyk did their best to hype up the crowd while local music superstars Charly and Nina, Bruce Melodie and rapper Riderman had their opportunity to perform before a sold-out Kigali Arena.

Riderman took a moment and asked the audience to observe a minute of silence in tribute to the deceased filmmaker Denis Nsanzamahoro, who died on Friday at Kigali University Teaching Hospital (CHUK) where he was hospitalized.

The artistes were backed up by Symphony Band, a group of Nyundo School of Music students, who played a key role in making sure the performances went as planned.

Though the gates were already open for concert-goers earlier at 5.30 pm, it turned out to be like the party was just beginning when US-based singer Meddy stepped on stage, only a few minutes after an entertaining dance session by choreographer Sherrie Silver and her dance crew.

Despite a huge reception by the crowd, Meddy’s performance was cut short after doing just four songs, Si Byo, featuring Kitoko, Ntawamusimbura, Slowly and his collaboration with Uncle Austin ‘Everything’.

Meddy entertains revelers at the Kwita Izina Concert. / Emmanuel Kwizera

The performance of fewer than 20 minutes had not been anticipated. As soon as Meddy left the stage, boos filled the air with many thinking he would return, only for Ne-Yo’s crew to start setting up the stage for his performance.

It took the singer’s crew about an hour setting up the stage before the American-born singer showed up for what was his first-ever performance in Rwanda.

“This is my first time in Rwanda….and I really appreciate,” said the singer, shortly after coming on stage, claiming that he now has five children –four his biological ones and the 5th one the baby gorilla he named.

The appearance of President Paul Kagame led to the crowd erupting into pandemonium as the arena shouted “Mzee wacu, Mzee wacu”. A long list of government officials was in attendance alongside this year’s gorilla-namers, who included global figures and celebrities.

The singer, alongside the likes of supermodel Naomi Campbell and choreographer Sherrie Silver, took part in the ceremony where they named a baby gorilla among the 25 who were named on Friday.

From ‘Miss Independent’, ‘Go Girl’, ‘Sexy Girl’  and ‘Give Me Everything  ft Pitbull’ to ‘Summertime’, ‘So Sick’, ‘Let Me Love You’ featuring Mario and ‘Irreplaceable’ featuring Beyonce, the singer didn’t give the audience a single second to sit until he closed the show after more than an hour of performance.

For a man who many thought he was well past his best days, Ne-Yo put up a performance that proved that while he might not be topping the charts today, he still got the qualities that make him the superstar he is.

Dancing from start to finish, Ne-Yo proved that he got what it takes to make the crowd turn up and engage them as much as he can. He invited girls to dance with him and one of them was lucky to go back to the stands with the singer’s bracelet as a reward.

The singer also ventured out into the crowd, giving out jewelry and his trademark hats, one of the lucky ones being The New Times very own Linda Mbabazi who received a hat from Ne-Yo.

By the time the show ended at around 2:30 am, everybody was satisfied by Ne-Yo’s performance.

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