Shaggy concert in Rwanda: Local artistes, journalists cry foul

Parties are over now. Probably some more will be coming a few weeks from now. But what we have learnt from the two mega concerts—Rwandatel and MTN is debatable.
Shaggy at Kigali International Airport .
Shaggy at Kigali International Airport .

Parties are over now. Probably some more will be coming a few weeks from now. But what we have learnt from the two mega concerts—Rwandatel and MTN is debatable.

One, all parties were superb in general.

Two, we were happy and entertained to the maximum. However one thing that we can not let go, are the bad things that happened behind the scenes.

The concert was 100 per cent sponsored by MTN, meaning that MTN gave cash to bring Shaggy, paid for logistics and also gave money for regional and local artistes.

4Real Promotions, a local promotion company was to select, negotiate and pay artistes to perform, which they did.

MTN has always said that among its commitments is promoting local artistes in the country is top on their agenda. However hiring 4Real Promotions, company that some local artistes have reservations about was MTN’s undoing.

4Real Promotions is not in good books with a number of local artistes. That is one. Two, only five artistes among the many in the country were contacted to perform. 

In the first press conference called to announce the Shaggy concert, about three journalists simultaneously asked the MTN Rwanda Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Themba Khumalo how many local artistes would perform. He passed on the question to 4Real Promotions—but they refused to mention the list.

The CEO was also asked if Sgt. Robert Kabera, who sings like Shaggy, would perform alongside the Jamaican star.

Khumalo stood on his two legs and promised he would do all what is possible to see that Sgt. Robert performs.

Khumalo did not fulfill his promise. Sgt. Robert never performed and there was a lot of disappointment among the revelers.

Yet, Khumalo was told that Sgt. Robert has a huge number of fans around the country for his voice—similar to Shaggy’s and that it was going to be an opportunity to compare him with the original Shaggy.

A day before the concert, Amini Gafaranga, MTN Business Development Manager, was asked to explain why Sgt. Robert was not going to be given the chance to perform alongside his role model—Shaggy, he never gave a satisfactory answer.

“Some of the artistes were charging us beyond our budget and others have contracts with other people,” was what Gafaranga could say.

A source in MTN however says there were people at MTN Centre (headquarters)  who did not want Sgt Robert to perform.

“They excluded him and politicised the issue saying that they did not want him to play the Majeshi Makali songs…”

But for sure, Sgt. Robert does not sing only army related music, which is not even an issue because even gospel music can be played anywhere.

Sgt. Robert, of the Army Jazz Band is now a music star. He has been in the industry for quite sometime and his maiden hit ‘Weekend’ is a ballad we all love to listen to. He is popular for his successful hit ‘Igihugu cyacu’ (our country).

Like ‘Kigali Vipi’, ‘Weekend’, another track on his audio is a serious hit and no doubt, this audio might add him points during the nominations of 2009’s Pearl of Africa Music Awards.

To make it clear, Sgt. Robert has a lot of similarities with Shaggy. The first time he released his hit ‘Weekend’, most music fans made the song their phone ring tone.

Like Robert, Shaggy is also a former soldier.  His talent was developed after he retired from the army.

Sgt. Robert told The New Times that he was approached by 4Real Promotions but the offer they were giving him was unbelievable.

“They (4Real Promotions) were giving me $300 (Frw150,000) and told me that they were moreover doing me a favour to perform. They knew it was little money and no one would accept it honestly,” he explained.

When asked for a comment, the 4Real Promotions’s Manager Davis Kagenza said, “We had a number of artistes we worked with. Robert was not on our budget.”

The Kigali Boys Group was also contacted. But the offer they were given makes one feel ashamed to mention it. They were offered a paltry $700.

This is an amount they used to get in their early days when they had one or two hits and at small events deep upcountry. While all this was going on, MTN and 4Real Promotions were avoiding the press. They were only saying everything would be communicated later.

The big media disappointment was now to be faced. MTN and 4Real Promotions invited journalists three times but would call them 20 minutes before saying they had postponed the conference until further notice.

The night when Shaggy arrived, journalists were invited to cover his arrival at Kigali International Airport. After making the press wait for Shaggy, whom they kept in the VIP lounge for more than an hour, they only allowed Rwanda Television (TVR) to interview him and a few MTN staff to take photographs with the star.

Shamelessly, they drove him to Kigali Serena and left the press at the airport after midnight. Boldly, early in the morning the next day, they started calling journalists inviting them to a press conference at Serena, promising them free entry tickets.


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