Seka is a word that is easily understood across the East African region. It means “laugh” in various regional dialects. On the evening of March 26th 2016, the first ‘Seka Live’ comedy show was unveiled to Rwandan comedy lovers at the Kigali Serena Hotel.
For organisers, it was a case of testing the waters to see how deep the love from comedy lovers would be, and in the end it proved all worth it. Organizers picked their cue from that sold out gig, and sought to incorporate ‘Seka Live’ into standard lingo on the Kigali entertainment scene.
At that show, guests were treated to a cocktail of regional and local comedy talent, as well some local upstarts: There was the night’s headline act, the Kenyan comedian Eric Omondi, Chipukeezy (also from Kenya), the show’s host, Arthur Nkusi, Micheal Sengazi, Babu, Herve Kimenyi and John Muyenzi, all quite familiar names on the local comedy circuit.
The show also featured a relatively high number of upcoming local talents in Divine, George Birungi, Musoga, and Nakato.
New comedy horizons
Going by most of the names on stage, it is only natural that most revelers took it as another of those Comedy Knights gigs. After all, Arthur, Babu, Herve, Michael and John Muyenzi are names that have come to be synonymous with the pioneer comedy outfit in Kigali.
But this was different
“The concept of Seka Live is to establish a consistent live standup comedy event that is hosted by Arthur Nkusi, Rwanda’s leading standup comedian and features leading African and international comedians,” explained Nice Budandi, co-organizer of the show.
Formerly the Operations Manager of the Komedy Knights, Budandi recently teamed up with Arthur Nkusi to form ARTN Entertainment, the Events Company that is behind the Seka Live concept.
ARTN Entertainment is also responsible for some of the other big comedy events that have happened in Kigali recently, including the Arthur and Kansime Live comedy show in July last year, and the Ijoro rya Rutura series of comedy shows in January this year. Rutura is the name by which Arthur Nkusi is fondly referred to by fans.
According to Budandi, Seka Live’s long term goal is to become a regular Kigali comedy festival – the Seka Live Comedy Festival that is to host “many leading comedians and happen in multiple days.”
“In choosing the comedians to headline Seka Live shows we look at the comedians at the peak of their careers, and the ones we know Kigalians would love to see. We bring in headliners from outside the country but also provide an opportunity for Rwandan comedians and also the upcoming comedians that haven’t performed on such big stages are always and will always be given a chance,” he further disclosed.
“It was the first Seka Live edition, we had no idea how it would turn out, how the audience would receive the idea but we got surprised when everyone moved out saying it’s one of the best show they have seen,” explains Arthur Nkusi, a veteran of the local comedy scene and one of its pioneers.
“The reason being that the headliner (Eric Omondi) was good but also the line-up had over seven comedians. The whole show took four hours which we thought we should reduce this time to three hours, so people can have enough time to digest the jokes cracked. The attendance was incredible going by the entry fee which was Rwf 10.000.”
His colleague Budandi agrees
“The First Edition was an amazing experience; we wanted to create something new, the set up was somehow different from the usual comedy shows and people loved it, starting from the line up of comedians, the live Band and the timing. The sponsors and partners got more time to be advertised in a new style, and the comments were good. This gave us the courage to move on and organize the second edition which promises to be more anticipated.”
The two are already down to work, putting together logistics for the second edition of Seka Live that falls on June 4th. This time, it is Ugandan comedian Teacher Mpamire that will headline.
Mpamire (real names Herbert Mendo Segujja) first made his comic impression mimicking Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni, and this he did so well that fans soon took to referring to him simply as Museveni.
“The next edition is supposed to be almost perfect, putting in place all that didn’t go well in the first edition, the headliner we are bringing is a hilarious one from Uganda. Teacher Mpamire is one of the leading East African comedians at the moment with his style of acting like a teacher which he has not showcased in Kigali,” Budandi explained.
Also on stage will be comedian Kigingi from Burundi, also one of the best from that land, and who was last on a Kigali comedy stage in 2015.
Again, the respected gospel band, Beauty For Ashes will be on hand to handle the live music segment of the show. Getting a gospel band on the first edition was a bit of a calculated gamble, one that worked –hence their return for the second edition:
“We were looking for a band that is really good at what they do and that people would like and Beauty For Ashes have all that. In the past we have worked with different bands and singers so we were looking for some that people haven’t seen on our stage and being a gospel band doesn’t really change anything. People enjoy good music and the comments after the event were really good they were happy with that choice and requested that they come again which we have decided to do in the second edition,” Budandi explained their choice of band.
With the launch of their latest album slated for early July, Budandi promises comedy goers a treat to some of the band’s new music at Seka Live Season II.
Budandi and Nkusi share a long history that predates the Komedy Knights from which most of the public got to know them. The two first met at Lycée de Kigali where both attended high school. They hit it off almost immediately, performing comedy skits for classmates. Budandi wrote the skits and Nkusi acted them. After their senior six, the Komedy Knights was formed and the journey continued.
“We have worked together for a long time since high school, I feel like we agree on many things plus Arthur is a very creative and hard working individual which we have in common so it was easy to partner, apart from the comedy events our Company ARTN entertainment have done many event management works for other organizations like Care, Bralirwa, and many more,” Budandi reveals.
However the duo has not quit Komedy Knights where it all started. Budandi contends that working in both Komedy Knights and ARTN Entertainment has equipped the two with invaluable experience:
“I’ve got a lot of experience in events, we have been doing this for a long time now, I have got connections everywhere and things seem easy now, we know how to target our audience, how to get to them and how to handle the pressure, being in both Comedy knights ltd and also ARTN Entertainment helps me to multitask and always be busy in different shows, recently being part of the team that organized the Transform Africa left me with a lot of experience not just entertainment events but all events in General.”
Arhur Nkusi wraps up the interview when he says;
“I think I can do an event with only two weeks remaining to the dates of the show. We have done so many shows to a point that the connections we have help us big time with saving time and also having quality shows.”