It was a huge disappointment for music lovers at the closing night of KigaliUp festival on Sunday as the main act Alpha Blondy failed to show up. And in their wisdom, organisers sought to relay this devastating news only through the KigaliUp twitter handle:
“So sorry to announce that Alpha Blondy did not arrive last night. Fortunately Ismaël Lo and Quantum Split kindly agreed to play again,” read the tweet that was posted on Sunday morning.
At the venue, the IPRC Kicukiro cricket grounds, the crowds had started trickling in early, owing to the 3:00 pm show time that had earlier been announced for Alpha Blondy.
Yet by Saturday night, it was already clear to organizers that the Ivorian reggae icon would not be touching down at Kigali International Airport.
On Sunday morning, some local news websites started breaking the bad news, although festival goers remained largely ignorant of this development.
On stage, MCs Ange Umulisa and Lion Imanzi shied away from breaking the tough news, a move that many in the crowd viewed as disrespect and dishonesty on the side of organizers.
If anything, people at the venue had already bought their tickets anyway. An apology from Mighty Popo, the festival’s organizer or the MCs was the least that organizers should have offered. They did not.
The night however saw some energetic performances from both local and international acts, with Rafiki “Choga style”, Gaby Kamanzi, Mani Martin and the Rwanda National Ballet (Urukerereza) among the local acts that stood out.
However for many more local artists, it was a continuation of the agony on the opening night, when they failed to get a chance to perform.
In an apparent show of solidarity, Senegalese world music star Ismaël Lo and American rock band Quantum Split agreed to get back on stage to make up for Alpha Blondy’s no-show, even after having both staged spectacular performances the previous night.
Ivorian bassist Manou Gallo was one of the female highlights on the closing night of a festival whose theme this year was “women in music”.
But sound glitches left a dent on her set, which was divided between checking the sound and the actual performance.
Nkento Bakaji, the all-female eleven piece Congolese band were the other female highlights.