Kigali’s noise pollution regulations were in full force Friday night as Rwandan-German songbird Shavu staged her first musical show on Rwandan soil.
It was a frustrating culmination of a week in which the singer spent the better part of her time on a local media tour to promote the concert, a launch event for her first studio album, In Our Art.
Shavu recorded the album in Cologne, Germany where she is based, and it was released through Loyal Records, her music label on August 10.
Dubbed ‘In Our Art-Kigali Edition’, the launch event was supposed to introduce the singer and her music to the Rwandan audience, following a similar launch concert in Germany.
But the concert, and the venue, Gusto Italiano Restaurant and Bar in Kimihurura bore the brunt of the city authorities’ dreaded noise pollution regulations, frustrating concert-goers, the singer and her promoters alike.
Shavu hit the stage at 10:50 pm, accompanied by Wu, a German musician also signed to Loyal Records, and with who she has collaborated on a few songs. Also on stage was Loy, the owner of Loyal Records, who manned the turn tables.
Their turn came after a handful of high adrenaline curtain-raising acts that also included a magician show from Uganda.
Rwandan-German singer Shavu performs to a handful revellers at her album launch at Gusto Italiano Restaurant and Bar in Kimihurura on Friday night. Courtesy. photos.
However, when Shavu stepped up to the stage, it was as if this was the cue the police had been waiting for to swing into action. The singer kicked off her performance on a note of requesting the sound operators to give her more volume on the sound and microphone.
Unknown to her, the police was already at work, directing the DJ to turn the sound ever lower. When it became known to her that the police was involved, Shavu urged show goers to draw closer to the front of the stage so that the show could proceed.
Even with the already muted sound, the authorities weren’t content yet. At one point one of the men seized control of the DJs decks and personally adjusted the volume to a point it seemed like an indoor performance at a small house party.
Shavu maintained her composure to belt off some of the songs on the album like City lights, You heal me, Never give up, and the crowd’s favorite, Diaspora blues, in which the songstress talks about the bitter-sweet rollercoaster that is life in the diaspora.
“I loved performing in Rwanda and especially the crowd. They were still with us, supporting and appreciating despite all the waiting, mismanagement and noise pollution issues,”
“Performing diaspora blues especially meant so much to me,” an unfazed Shavu would later comment after the show, which was put together by Kiwundo Entertainment and Baldwin Events, both local Events companies.
Noise pollution regulations were not the only challenges that faced the show. It was also marred by accusations and counter accusations between organisers.
Baldwin Events accuses the management of Kiwundo Entertainment of defaulting on payment of the agreed artists’ fees, despite an earlier agreement.
“Baldwin Events as an agent to Shavu and Wu performance at Gusto is disappointed with Kiwundo Entertainment and Gusto Italiano management for not honoring their side of the agreement. It’s sad that up to today they have not made payment to the artist, yet the work that was assigned to us is done,” explained an angry Alexis Mbishibish of Baldwin Events on Sunday morning.
“We sent him the agreement on email before our performance but he kept dodging us. The day of the concert he said he was going to come down so we can sign, only for him not to show up. We went to stage to perform for the people because we could not disappoint them,” he added.
Efforts to get a comment from Richard Mutangana, the owner of Kiwundo Entertainment, were futile as calls to him went unanswered. Mutangana is also the proprietor of Gusto Italiano Restaurant and Bar, where the concert took place.