It was a memorable Saturday afternoon as the lush green hills of Rusizi town filled up with people making their way to and from the Rusizi District main stadium for the start of the Primus Guma-Guma Superstar season five (PGGSS 5) country road-shows.
The artistes who made it to the top 10 took to the stage and gave the huge crowd a bit of what they have spent days working on as they launch their bid to land the grand prize.
Unlike in the past seasons, the artistes were able to sing in both playback and semi-live format other than full playback, in performances that were varied in genre, dances, among other aspects. The show was emceed by the usual suspects; Anita Pendo and MC Tino, who entertained the crowd before the show kicked off at 2:30p.m.
Eric Senderi, stage name Senderi International hit, once again was not short of surprises as he got onto the stage hidden under a Primus-branded barrel as his song ‘Burakya’ played.
He went on to perform Nsomyaho and Umuvuduko but midway through his performance he complained about crowd numbers which by now had not yet picked up, and blamed ‘coldness’ when the crowd didn’t seem to warm up to his performance.
It was then a turn for the all-boy groups Active and Dream Boys to woo the crowd in breathtaking performances which wowed the mostly youthful revellers.
Clad in black and animal print outfits, Active impressed with the best dance routine of the day as performed Pole, Aisha and Lift to the delight of the enthusiastic crowd.
Dream Boys impressed the crowd with their Urare Aharyana, Uzahahe Uronke and Tujyane Iwacu hits.
After Dream Boys, Knowless Butera hit the stage and, once again, proved why she’s such a household name and among the top contenders of this year’s Primus Guma Guma grand prize.
She performed Wari Urihe, Baramushaka, among others.
Jean de Dieu Matata, a Knowless fan who travelled from the capital Kigali to Rusizi to support her, said he had been surprised by Knowless’ ‘drastic improvement’ in her performances and stage presence.
“It was beyond expectation, generally there’s a lot of improvement, a lot of people came out cheer their favourite artistes but for me Knowless took the day,” Matata said.
Jules Sentore, the first to perform in semi-live, moved the crowd to sing along to his smooth traditional vocals. He performed Akanya, Angela and Kora Akazito with the crowd singing along.
Bruce Melodie also impressed in semi-live, he had the whole stadium singing along to his hits Ndakwanga and Ntundize as he ran through some of his hits like Hello, Telephone and Tubivemo.
Rapper Odda Paccy was clearly in control of the stage and crowd during her debut performance like it wasn’t her first time with her Mbese nzapfa, Rendez-vous and Love ya weekend hits. And she promised it was "all going to go well” at the next roadshows.
Fellow debutants TNP performed their Kamucerenge but the crowd didn't react much to the rest of their performance, indicating that they might have to do more to win over the masses.
Seasoned artistes like Mazimpaka Rafiki and Bulldog did not have to struggle much to bring the audience on their side.
The Choga style king expressed happiness for his return to the limelight and the fact that people still warm up to his music. He performed Bagambe and Gikomando.
Bulldog drew the curtains on the evening with a much appreciated performance of his songs Nk’umusaza and Icyuki.
“Some of the artistes like Senderi and TNP tried their hand on few stunts which was all good but personally I think it’s Bruce Melodie and Dream Boys who stood out today, though judging by the reaction of fans today, I would say Bulldog is also a force to reckon with,” said a Damascene Shyaka.
His remarks were echoed by Odilla Uwamahoro who added Rafiki Mazimpaka on the list of favourites to go all the way.
Speaking after the show, Joseph Mushomya, CEO of East African Promoters (EAP), hailed the turn-up.
“This is the most well attended roadshow in Rusizi ever since PGGSS started. I am also happy that we have tried out the idea of semi-live, which is a very significant addition to the shows,”
“Artistes who can sing live found it very easy because they requested for it, they were tired of the playback and the crowd equally loved it,” Mushyoma said. The roadshow ended at 5p.m with judges Aimable Twahirwa, Lion Manzi and Clementine ‘Tonzi’ Uwitonze handing their verdict on the day to auditors Price Waterhouse Coopers.
According to Mushomya, the judges will be at every show to record the performances and crowd reaction, which will impact on the overall outcome.
The next roadshow takes place in Nyamagabe District on March 28. There is a total of 16 roadshows this year.