The East African project is short of cultural verve so far. So the now expanded Project Fame reality television show that pits Rwandan Kenyan, Ugandan and Tanzanian music starlets in the search for the perfect superstar, is a fresh breath.
A true East African spirit can be best molded by imbuing the rich diversity, and in the country performances on Saturday night, a rich expression of cultural diversity that clearly wowed the crowd and killed any national nuances that viewers many have held of neighbouring countries showed.
Never mind that almost nobody could understand Kinya-rwanda or Kiganda lyrics, clearly they were moved by the unique cultural choreography and drama, the waist shaking of the Ugandans and the hand and body weaving of the Rwandans.
The Project Fame judges’ panel and list of teachers is perhaps the most impressive of the three seasons.
The overly critical Ian Mbugua, an experienced vocalist and star in South Africa’s Egoli -The Place of Gold, maintains a tough but straight talking honesty towards the contestants.
The gracious Achieng Abura, an afro-fusion star and pianist and musician in her own right is perhaps the most motivating of the teachers, while the contestants themselves have reserved the best words for their vocal teachers.
The entry of Uganda’s leading R&B singer Juliana is a break from the Kenyan-dominated cast of judges.
The cast of emcees is a perfect mix of Kenyan professional poise and vocal clarity and Ugandan lingual creativity and ordinary humor in Kenya’s Sheila Mwanyigha and Uganda’s Uncle Mitch Egwang. Sheila makes a triumphant return to the show after partnering with a Kenyan companion in the first season, former big brother Africa contestant and now Mnet’s Studio 53 presenter Gaetano Kagwa in the second Project Fame.
For budding musicians all over the region the daily show from the academy is free lesson into the musicals profession and they should pick valuable tips on how to improve their carriers and make better artistes.
Storylines like Dr. Mitch’s should inspire Rwandans to venture out in other East African countries and try their luck in various arts.
The regional entertainment scene is looking for individuals who can balance their country knowledge and mould it with the neighbor’s culture to attract more people.
For example, Rwanda’s representative may not be as talented as the other contestants but for that they make up with their beautiful French-laced accents of English that sound exotic, plus their casual multi-lingual appeal which is very attractive elsewhere.
That is how discreet opportunities will open up to Rwandans, and for Rwanda’s Alpha, Nina and Christian, their future is already bright.