Music events that rocked 2016’s entertainment calendar

2016 has been an exciting year, thanks to a series of events on its social calendar. From Diner en Blanc and Ubumuntu Arts Festival to Miss Rwanda and Kwita Izina, the list is endless. However, today, we look at the music events that stood out during the year.
Urban Boys hold their trophy and dummy check at the Primus GumaGuma finale in August this year.
Urban Boys hold their trophy and dummy check at the Primus GumaGuma finale in August this year.

2016 has been an exciting year, thanks to a series of events on its social calendar. From Diner en Blanc and Ubumuntu Arts Festival to Miss Rwanda and Kwita Izina, the list is endless. However, today, we look at the music events that stood out during the year.

KigaliUp Festival

Laurent is the lead vocalist of the American rock band, Quantum Split that performed at this year’s KigaliUp Festival. 

If there’s anything that made this year’s KigaliUp Festival special, it was the presence of Grammy award winning singer Skyler Jett of the Commodores, and the late Lucky Dube’s son, Thokozani Dube, a reggae singer based in South Africa. Given it was Jett’s first performance in Africa, it is safe to say the festival was blessed to have him on board.


Popular for his humanitarian and environmental causes, Jett, together with Nyundo Music Students, held a mesmerising performance at the annual music festival. The festival that celebrated six years in existence this year is full of diverse activities, art exhibitions, crafts shops, live music, DJ mixes, games and eateries with food stalls boasting of both local and international dishes.


The two-day event brought together both local, regional and international musicians including American rock band, Quantum Split led by Soleil Laurent, American vocalist and a music professor at Berklee College of Music, Joey Blake, Cameroonian singer Kareyce Fotso and South Africa’s One People Band. Local artistes Danny Vumbi, Christopher, and Eric1 Key among others, graced the festival.

Mutzig Beerfest

Have you ever been to an event where drinks flow? This is what happens at the annual Mutzig Beerfest. But this is not the real deal. The highlight was Nigerian star Wizkid, real name Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun, gracing the event. This year, hundreds of revellers turned up. The Mutzig Beerfest is inspired by Germany’s Oktoberfest, the largest annual beer festival in the world. South African House duo, Liquideep, Chilean jazz expert, Tito Al Ulibe, and Ugandan rapper Navio made a surprise appearance. Nubian Gypsies were the curtain raisers.

Live and Die in Africa Tour

Sauti Sol’s performance during their ‘Live and Die in Africa’ Album Tour in Kigali in September. 

Sauti Sol is arguably one of the biggest music bands in the region. Based on their outstanding appearances on both regional and international scenes, the quality of music they do, and the amount of energy they put in promoting their music, is praiseworthy.

When the multi-award winning Kenyan afro-pop band launched their latest album, Live and Die in Africa, the first thing they did was to tour the continent. Rwandans waited in anticipation given the band had last performed in Kigali during the 2015 KigaliUp Festival. Even the downpour didn’t stop people from attending the show. In fact the venue was packed to capacity.

The quartet’s show featured performances from Neptunez Band, Yvan Buravan, 3 Hills, S.A.M, DJ Miller, and DJ Toxxyk.

Primus GumaGuma Super Star 6

Primus GumaGuma Super Star is the largest music contest in the country and has been running annually for an epic six seasons now. This year saw the competitors battling for the ultimate prize, a cool Rwf24M, over the course of eight super road-shows of which six were live and two, semi-live. Urban Boys became the first group to win Primus GumaGuma Super Star, piping nine others to the grand prize. The trio of Safi ‘Madiba’ Niyibikora, James Manzi and Muhammad ‘NizzoKaboss’ Nshimiyimana beat RnB singer Christopher Muneza who came in second, while last year’s first runner-up Bruce Melodie emerged third. “We are delighted. We gave it our all and it has paid off,” said Manzi, known by the stage name Humble Jizzo. The competition has been running since 2011. Tom Close won the first edition, then King James, Riderman, Jay Polly and Knowless Butera.

Jazz Junction events

Lilian Mbabazi’s spirited performance at the Kigali Jazz Junction on September 30. 

One thing that is rapidly gaining popularity is jazz music. And one of the champions of this genre is the monthly ‘Kigali Jazz Junction’.

Starting out was not as easy, but over the past few months, organisers have proved that any kind of music can be adapted to.

The Jazz Junction parties are held every month and this year, the events were bigger and better. Many local, regional and international artistes have graced the series of events. Chilean jazz maestro Tito A Ulibe, jazz icon Isaiah Katumwa, Injyana Band, Tusker Project Fame 6 winner Hope Irakoze, Uganda’s powerhouse Lilliane Mbabazi, Maurice Kirya, Neptunez Band, Ben Ngabo Kipeti, Mani Martin, MoRoots, Cindy and Myko Ouma, to name a few, are some of the biggest names that graced the Jazz Junction parties this year.

The event is organised by RG-Consult, an events organisation and management company based in Kigali.

Summer Beach Fest

This show happens in Rubavu District, best known as Gisenyi town, in the north-western part of the country. This year, party-goers hit the shores of Lake Kivu for the fourth edition of the Summer Beach Fest.

The brainchild, DJ Africano of PromoAfrica Communications, says the festival basically seeks to unveil to Rwandans and international visitors the tourism gems that are Gisenyi and Lake Kivu.

The first and second editions of the festival were held at the more modest Tamu Tamu Beach, also in Gisenyi. The following editions, the festival secured a sponsors Lake Kivu Serena Resort and Heineken respectively.

This year the event hosted Uganda’s dancehall female star Sheebah Karungi, but also featured performances from Active, Social Mulla and deejays like Makeda, Pyfo and Phil Peter. 

Barge Party

Most of us are accustomed to dancing on floors built of concrete cement, not on a boat in the middle of a lake, swinging from side to side. That’s what the Barge Party is all about; revellers party on a boat while sailing on Lake Kivu, viewing the beautiful islands on the lake.

Barge Party is divided into two categories; ‘Fun in the Sun,’ a day-time cruise and ‘Tidal Rave,’ a night cruise.

They are both held on a vessel that is used to carry beer in the Kivu region but it has since been transformed into a party platform. According to the organisers, it’s all about “hosting the best party of the year, transforming a working machine into a work of art, and inspiring people to dance,” and for three years, they have lived up to their mantra.

The Barge Party People, a group of adventure-event planners, spearheaded by Evolve DJs (a Kigali based mobile disco company) and Kurema, Kureba, Kwiga (Rwanda’s leading public-art social-enterprise), collectively produced the one-of-a-kind event.

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