PHOTOS: How the inaugural Iwacu Muzika Festival went down

François Nsengiyumva, aka Igisupusupu, leaves fans asking for more after thrilling performance. / Eddie Nsabimana

It was a day of fun and excitement as hundreds of people, especially the youth, gathered at Ubworoherane stadium in Musanze District to see their favourite musicians perform at the inaugural Iwacu Muzika Festival, on Saturday.

The festival, organised by East African Promoters (EAP), in partnership with Bralirwa, and the Ministry of Sports and Culture among other players, is aimed at bringing together different artistes in their respective age groups on the stage to promote Rwandan music.

Minister Nyirasafari chats with Musanze Mayor Jean-Damascene Habyarimana during the festival on Saturday. / Eddie Nsabimana

The first edition of the festival was graced by different dignitaries, including the Minister for Sports and Culture Esperance Nyirasafari, who officially opened the festival, which targets to reach out to fans in different parts of the country, as well as local leaders from Musanze district.

The artistes, who included Jay Polly,Bruce Melodie, Yvery, Allioni, Jules Sentore, Orchestre Impala and Francois Nsengiyumva, famously known as ‘Igisupusupu’, arrived in Musanze on Friday and spent a night with the festival organisers and the media, doing final rehearsals on the eve of the performance.

Known for their love of music, Musanze residents started filling up the venue very early in anticipation of the performances. The festival sponsors Bralirwa were at hand to serve their premium beer brand Primus as the stage was being set for the festival.

It was the students’ music band from Nyundo School of Music which opened the festival performance as they warmed up the crowd before the MC Buryohe stepped on stage with DJ Phil Peter on the decks to kick off the day’s musical routine.

Not to be left out, Musanze homegrown music talents were given an opportunity to showcase their music before the audience as they sought to impress music managers and promoters in attendance.

The performances by Nyundo School of music graduate Yvery Rugamba and Allioni seemed to get the crowd in the mood before Jules Sentore took the stage to introduce a culture-themed performance as he belted out most of his ‘Gakondo’ songs.

Allioni on stage. / Eddie Nsabimana

On one hand, the festival created an unconditional connection between supporters and some artistes One of those was Jay Polly who has not performed in the town in recent months, given his troubles with the law.

His performance proved how people really missed him as they sung along to his hits such as ‘Deux Fois Deux’ and ‘Vuzingoma’, a collaboration with TBB as well as his most recent songs such as ‘Inshuti Nyazo’ and ‘Umusaraba wa Joshua’, loosely translated as ‘Joshua’s Cross’, a collaboration with singer Marina, which recounts his six-month prison life after he was convicted on counts of domestic violence.

The rapper left the stage with an emotional feeling from the love his fans showed him after a fan joined him on stage to perform together.

Another artiste, who caught the attention of the full stadium was Francois Nsengiyumva. The audience showed immense love for the ‘Mariya Jeanne’ singer, who is enjoying the best moments of his music career following his fast rise to stardom under Alain Mukurarinda’s management.

Nsengiyumva did not need electronic beats from the sound system to entertain his fans as only his traditional instrument ‘Umuduri’ was enough for him to bring the passion out of the crowd, as he belted out ‘Mariya Jeanne’ and ‘Icange’, the two songs, which have taken over the airwaves by storm.

Orchestre Impala during their performance over the weekend. / Eddie Nsabimana

As usual, singer Bruce Melodie put up a spectacular performance, singing his hit songs such as, ‘Ikinya’, ‘Blocka’, as well as collaborations like ‘Ikinyarwanda’ with Riderman, Kungola with Sunny and Tuza, with Allioni, who was also a figure to notice as she performed Hahandi and Pole Pole.

Orchestre Impala, the only band which performed in Musanze, were also worth mentioning at the festival as people of all generations stepped on when the likes of Dieudonne Munyanshoza and Mimi la Rose among other band members performed old school songs like Anita, Leonia and Burakeye which got the crowd singing.

The show closed a few minutes before 5pm, with the next stop being Western Province next weekend where another section of artistes, including Cecile Kayirebwa, Urban Boys, Bull Dogg, Active, Rafiki and Victor Rukotana are expected to perform.

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