KigaliUp praised by audience, musicians and merchants

There is an old saying that the third time is the charm, and that certainly holds true for one of Rwanda’s biggest festivals, KigaliUp.
Maia from Kenya
Maia from Kenya

There is an old saying that the third time is the charm, and that certainly holds true for one of Rwanda’s biggest festivals, KigaliUp.

This year’s edition of the festival, the third since it was launched in 2011, was lauded by the audience, the musicians and the merchants taking part in the party just outside of Amahoro National Stadium in Remera, Kigali.

As the festival wound down late Sunday evening after two days with live music and partying, they had nothing but praise for the organisers of the festival.

“This has been the best KigaliUp so far, everyone has had such a great time. The musicians were amazing, there has been a really great vibe and I just cannot wait for next year”, said one of the festival-goers, Emanuel Evariste, as he left the stadium Sunday before midnight.

Several hundred other guests joined the praise on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, which buzzed with praise for the festival thoughout the weekend.

According to the organisers, the purpose of KigaliUp is to enrich the cultural landscape, enhance the capacity of the music and art industry, and contribute to cultural tourism and economic development in Rwanda”. The volunteering organisers believe that the best way to achieve that goal is to provide a stage to the talents on the Rwandan music scene, and by late Sunday evening, it seemed that they were well on their way to fulfill their mission.

The sellers in the stalls selling records and merchandise for the performing artist reported about big sales after the concerts, and the festival managed to draw a large crowd of tourists and expats to the neighborhood of Remera.

“This is such a great initiative and it has been a wonderful festival. I think it is amazing that Kigali has a festival like this to showcase Rwandan music and bring the city together for a big party,” said Signe Sylvester, a short-term volunteer who spends the summer in Kigali.

The second day of the festival had a slow start. When the festival site opened in the early afternoon, a small amount of people gathered in front of the two stages. The audience seemed to be a little tired and hangover after Saturday’s festivities at the festival site and at the following parties around town.

However, as the sun set the crowd grew considerably, and when the Rwandan band Nubian Gypsies took to the big stage in the evening, several hundred people danced and sang along. In the meantime, Papy Safa, a band playing Afro-fusion, accompanied by a group of dancers, brought on the party at the smaller stage. Throughout the day, the musicians at both stages continuously praised both the audience and the organisers in between songs.

The party could also be felt at the booths selling food and beverages between the two stages, where the sellers struggled to keep up with the demand from the audience.

“We’ve been very, very busy. Yesterday was crazy and today has been a bit slower, but we’ve still had a lot of customers. We’re really happy to be part of the festival”, said Griffin Richards, owner of the Mexican restaurant Meze Fresh, before hurrying back to his booth to prepare tacos for the hungry festival-goers.

Despite the fact that Monday morning was luring at the end of the party, the bar was also busy. There was a line to the bar for most of the day. At one point late Sunday evening the bar even ran out of beer, but the party continued as a new stock arrived later on.

It was still too early for the organisers to put a number on the audience and estimate how the festival had done economically. However, one thing was certain as the last guests left the stadium Sunday night: in the eyes of Kigali, KigaliUp 2013 had been a huge success.

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