The third season of East Africa’s premier music reality show which has had an unprecedented attraction will come to a close today. For the first time in its history the competition added Rwanda to Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania to cater for an expanding definition of East Africa in the same respect, and Rwanda has not disappointed.
Unlike Tanzania whose contestants were falling over themselves to get evicted, Rwanda’s three contestants persevered and succeeded in keeping at least one contestant into the final week of the show.
Apart from the comic exchanges full of rhetoric between Dr. Mitch Egwang, Ugandan presenter and the no-nonsense Judge Ian Mbugua on one side and Jazz maestro Helon Habila’s bombastic expressions, we will remember project fame more so because of the depth of talent that was available to choose from.
The Kenyans had spiced mix in their team with the rich baritone of Debarl, the comedian in Ngangalito and the wealth and breadth of vocal talent, a vibrant personality and exciting stage performance in Patricia.
Tanzania meanwhile was a mixed cup. Kelvin looked like a brother straight from a wannabe bongo flavour video which is not fodder for a music competition.
Caro was a better musical package than Kelvin but was just not up to the mark, while Illuminata’s latter day resurrection in vocal power amidst a fervent crush on Rwanda’s Christian was not enough to save her from the ticket to Dar Es Salaam.
Uganda presented an all - girl contingent that for a long time appeared too hard to penetrate until the second last week, when the competition was too stiff and they had to let Leah go.
At the beginning, the strength looked to lie in Kenya’s Patricia and Debarl, Uganda’s Caro and Leah and Rwanda’s Nina Bola.
But Nganga’s comic personality won him a huge fan base for himself, while Christian’s husky voice and model like look endeared him to female fans including one right in the academy itself.
Maureen wore off her average presence and pulled off a great African musician personality that took her ahead of the Ugandans.
Meanwhile, Alpha’s loud disagreements with the other boys slowly metamorphosed into complex alliances that saw him survive probation for long only to be saved by fans the first time that he went onto the dreaded list.
Among the final five Patricia is the only one of the early favourites who went into the final weeks in the same league while Debarl and Leah fell along the way. In the heat of the competition, Caro’s stage antics look shaky suddenly while Alpha is the strongest wild card for the winner’s slot.
Nganga is the one who has managed to wow the fans into falling so in love with him so much so that he is most likely to enter the top three. If Maureen survives eviction she will complete the top three line-up.
The talent aside, we are definitely going to miss the very gracious and very talented faculty who aside from the academy has carved very successful careers.
Afro-fusion musician Achieng Abura perfectly fits the role of a musical mother while Coach Kavutha Mwanzia-Asiyo is the best thing one can have to a caring but serious teacher.
Jazz maestro Helon Habila has tried to impart his artistic personality on the future stars while Coach Edu has tried to show them how not to move their bodies for good stage effect.
“However”, like Judge Ian Mbugua would have said, the performances sometimes were “pathetic” or “below average.” We will also miss Mitch’s self-directed ridicule that kept us laughing our lungs away, or Sheila Mwanginya’s clear pragmatic but entertaining style.
Most of all, we will miss those Saturday and Sunday evenings when our weekly dose of tension cam and peaked in exhilaration or disappointment as people we considered fresh talents had to face the pain of eviction or as undeserving contestants went on probation.
The judges tried to be fair but many times came up with wrong decisions that showed their shallow appreciation of other genres of music but the faculty always came up with spot on decisions while using their chance to save a contestant.
The contestants also tried to be fair while saving their fellow contestants except on one occasion when a trio of girls saved Nganga instead of Debarl in what was clearly a strategic move to eliminate a strong rival and a potential winner.
All in all, today’s winner will be a worthy winner.