Who is to blame for East African Party’s setback?

The Ben staged a great performance despite being given limited time. Dan Nsengiyumva

When East African Promoters announced their all-Rwandan line-up of artistes to headline the New Year’s Day celebrations at the East African Party, few believed that concert goers would fill up Kigali Arena.

To the surprise of many, however, regular tickets sold out hours before the concert.


The arena’s stage on January 1 was home to some of Rwanda’s top artistes namely: Andy Bumuntu, Riderman, King James, Bushali, Knowless Butera, the only female who performed at the concert, Bruce Melodie, as well as the main act, The Ben, while Symphony Band backed up all the performers.


Although revellers seemed to be enjoying the show, their general concern was the poor time management by the organisers that saw the show kick-off hours later than the scheduled time. Gates opened at 4pm. 


The event’s MC, Anita Pendo, called the first performer, Andy Bumuntu, on stage at 8.40 pm, about two hours late. Given that every performer had about half-an-hour performance, it affected The Ben, whose performance was short-lived.

Some fans looked so tired and disappointed as they spent hours waiting for the singer’s performance, that they could not afford to express their excitement when he got on stage.

The line-up of seven artistes from the list of Rwanda’s music superstars proved to be too hard for music fans to stay put, and the enjoyed every artiste’s performance accordingly, as some of them also failed to impress.

Revellers at the concert were impressed with King James’ energetic performances of his popular songs Umuriro Watse, Ganyobwe and Ndagutegereje, among others, while the Kinyatrap music of fast-rising rapper Bushali who performed Ku Gasima, Tsikizo, and Ni Muebue made him arguably the main man of the show.

The signs of fatigue started to ruin the show at some point, especially during the closing stages of the concert. It’s not, for instance, the reception Bruce Melody really expected on stage had revellers been physically fresh. His performance was considered ordinary, despite putting a lot of energy, until Sunny, who saved his performance, joined him on stage to perform their collaboration, Kungola.

For The Ben, the concert’s main act, the situation became dispiriting as he performed for the audience.

Prior to the concert, The Ben told journalists that he was ready to deliver the best performance his fans have ever witnessed.

However, coming on stage late knowing that the concert would be closed any time made him perform under pressure, something which, at some point, was frustrating. He, however, did his best for the love of his fans who waited for him until past midnight.

The singer had less than an hour on stage and according to his Twitter post, was rushed off stage, as the show had to close.

“Coming up on the stage after being told ‘Police igiye gufunga’ (police are going to close the venue) really disturbed my energy, but I managed to stay focused. After each song performance, I was worried that I would be dragged off stage anytime. But overall, last night was beautiful,” a disappointed The Ben posted on Twitter just a few hours after his performance.

The statement was not taken lightly by the event organisers, East African Promoters, saying that they are the ones who rushed him into performing within the given time. 

“Upon realising that we were running out of time for the concert, we hurriedly got The Ben on stage to ensure that he performed since it was getting late. It was our decision, the organisers, not the police, as alleged by the singer,” read part of the East African Promoters statement in response to The Ben’s comments.

Bruce Melody during the surprise performance of Kungola with Sunny. / Dan Nsengiyumva

Riderman was part of the line up of artists. / Dan Nsengiyumva

The Ben dances with Sherrie Silver on stage. / Dan Nsengiyumva


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