Are music festivals in Kigali losing their vibe?

There was only a handful of people at the opening of the 8th edition of KigaliUp. File.
Last week, the 2018 edition of Kigali Up themed, For the Love of Rwanda, Make Kigali a Vibrant City, was held and featured Ivorian reggae musician Alpha Blondy, among the many singers who performed at the cultural music festival, but recorded a low performance. 

The Ministry of Sports and Culture also organised the 10th edition of the Pan-African Dance Festival (FESPAD), but the much anticipated Kenyan music band Sauti Sol failed to perform.

There was a lot of public outcry, especially on social media, with many people saying this year’s festivals were poorly organised and failed to live up to past reputations.

This led to the Minister for Sports and Culture, Julienne Uwacu, to issue a public apology but was it just poor organisation or are music festivals in Kigali losing their vibe?

Sharon Kantengwa asked a cross section of people and here are they answers:

Absolutely, the turn up of the people has reduced over the years, and it’s no longer the talk of town. I think that this is due to poor organisation and poor sponsorship for the events.

Fiona Mbabazi, TV presenter

I think music festivals in Rwanda have lost their vibe. It is supposed to get better every year but what happens is totally sad. If you’ve been organising a festival for the past 15 years or 5 years you are supposed to learn from your past mistakes and make it better the next opportunity you get. I was personally disappointed by the teams behind FESPAD and Kigali Up this year because their work was mediocre. No hype for the concerts and then the poor organisation. We’ve seen what Stromae did in Rwanda and that should be something we can learn from.

Fiona Kamikazi Rutagengwa, communications expert

It is probably losing its vibe but it’s also about the organisation because people are craving for good artistes and they are really disappointed when they come to these shows.

So the problem is not the people, its the organisation. Also, there was no poster anywhere, the line-up came up late. But even the quality of the show, felt like it was rehearsal and after Alpha Blondy’s performance (at KigaliUp) I never went back. So, it’s just that people don’t put much time, effort or money in advertising and that is how you get the people.

People don’t invest in experience and that’s where we are, but we are also looking at it as the consequences that happen overnight, when you don’t have rehearsal spaces, there is no way we will grow until it becomes a normal thing.

Eric Nyangare, artiste

I think there are a number of factors. I think it starts with the organisation and the conceptualisation of the whole event. You need to know the timing of the whole event and you need to work with what’s happening by reading the social calendar of the city and see if it is very appropriate and I think event organisers are not paying attention to this because they have been there for a number of years and they take it for granted. But you see, the same people that they are talking to, other people will talk to them and they will take preference. So, I think they are working in isolation to those factors.

Last year was the biggest setback for Kigali Up, having a line-up for all those international acts, I was there and it was raining and didn’t want to miss because of the line-up but it got affected because of factors beyond their control, the artistes didn’t appear last year so people lost trust and confidence in it and the repercussions can be felt and may be so in the next three years.

It happened with FESPAD this year and it will be felt next year. I think that they need to come out and explain these factors.

Remmy Lubega, events organiser.

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