The Mighty Popo has a dream. He longs to do the unexpected: Put on a world-class outdoor music festival, complete with the jam sessions that make Canadian festivals so distinctive. And do it in his native land, Rwanda.
“Singers and Musicians are some of the most driven, courageous people on the face of the earth. They deal with more day-to-day rejection in one year than most people do in a lifetime. Every day, they face the financial challenge of living a freelance lifestyle, the disrespect of people who think they should get real jobs, and their own fear that they’ll never work again. Every day, they have to ignore the possibility that the vision they have dedicated their lives to is a pipe dream. With every note, they stretch themselves, emotionally and physically, risking criticism and judgment. With every passing year, many of them watch as the other people their age achieve the predictable milestones of normal life - the car, the family, the house, the nest egg. Why? Because musicians and singers are willing to give their entire lives to a moment - to that melody, that lyric, that chord, or that interpretation that will stir the audience’s soul. Singers and Musicians are beings who have tasted life’s nectar in that crystal moment when they poured out their creative spirit and touched another’s heart. In that instant, they were as close to magic, God, and perfection as anyone could ever be. And in their own hearts, they know that to dedicate oneself to that moment is worth a thousand lifetimes.”
— David Ackert, LA Times”—
"Constructive criticism is not only to be expected but sought." ~ Margaret Chase Smith At KigaliUp we dream big; we boldly approach all the big boys and decision-makers to ask for financial, logistical, political support; we go through institutional, political and cultural hurdles; and we work relentlessly to turn our festival into one of the most important events in the region. We hope that eventually our contribution will help the continent maximize its potential to become the ultimate cultural experience – Ibiza, Aya Napa and Miami, move over!! As a touristic destination, Africa is taking over! We have the sounds, the culture, the land, the amazing scenery and the most beautiful people on earth!
To ensure we keep ourselves on track, we offered a free festival ticket to Congolese by birth, South African raised, no-nonsense publicist and cultural critic, Uwase. Her mission? To soak up the energy …investigate the event freely… and report her expert impressions. Uwase is of Rwandan origin and is patriotic; however, political correctness was not the aim of her KigaliUp brief!
Here are her unbiased, blunt impressions of the 2012 KigaliUp Music Festival:
Uwase’sKigali Up Digest
It’s been a little over a week – enough time to digest and reflect on what was awesome, what could’ve been better and what should never have happened at the 2012 Kigali Up Festival.
Delving right in, the performers were awesome, and the festival–goers weren’t too bad either. We were treated to an incredible performance by legendary Ismaël Lô up close and personal. The Senegalese crooner sang classics that many of us remember from our childhoods as well as some of his more recent stuff. The crowd never missed a beat, singing along to all the songs which were mostly in Wolof (a national language of Senegal).
It’s at moments like these that you can’t help but marvel at the power that music wields.
Other notable performers were Tumi and the Volume, a hip-hop band from South Africa who sang alongside Chiwoniso, the mbira strumming songstress from Zimbabwe. Theirs was a match made in the struggle to take back the reins of music and to lead it to its storytelling origins – a place where artistic expression is at its truest. One such story they told is of our (Rwandans’) own struggle for a space of artistic expression. They wrote a song called “Kigali Up” with the hook “Save Ishyo” after they heard about the Art Centre’s eminent shut down.
Corey Harris and the Rasta Blues Experience from The States took us on a journey of roots music discovery with blues, reggae and jazz, all originating from the African continent. Mr. Harris believes that music represents the roots that keep the trunk (Africa) up, so that the branches can reach out all over the world to touch the lives of its inhabitants.
Regional and local artists to take note of were Steven Sogo from Burundi –who’s style is hard to pin point, but could be described as soulful traditional (from the region)–and Ma3 from Kenya. Both had the crowd on its feet from the beginning to the end of their performances. Ikobe, Mani Martin, King James, Tom Close, Jay Polly, Ingoma Nysha, and Rafiki all had the crowd dancing and singing along. And of course the multi-linguist Spoken Word Rwanda poets, Natacha and Eric “1Key,” brought the house down, too.
A definite big–up to the festival organisers for putting together such a great line-up, and to everyone who came to the event and proved that Rwandans know how to have fun!
What could’ve been better: definitely the 3 hour sound checks! Every minute off schedule that any given sound check took ate into the next performer’s time on stage; and without fail, the mics were switched off at 11pm sharp. This means that some people didn’t even get to perform. There has to be a way to shorten the set-up time for each band! A point to consider for next time.
Something else that could’ve have been better is the last minute change of venue. The Premature Garden in Kimihurura is the perfect place to have a festival like this one. So, whoever would be the final decision maker on whether this venue is used or not in the future, pretty please with a cherry on top, can we have next year’s Kigali Up there?;)
What should never have happened: the restroom situation. There was only one working toilet on the last day of the festival. So obviously both men and women had to use it. One restroom for the hundreds of people raises a lot of concern. Call me crazy, but I am not entirely comfortable with going past a row of men at urinals to get to a cubicle to relieve myself. There are so many things wrong with that picture. There are other restrooms that could’ve been used at the stadium. Each could’ve been clearly demarcated for use by men or women respectively; and a cleaning crew should’ve been on standby in case any unfortunate accidents occurred. It’s a no brainer, and it should not have happened.
That’s all for now. Look out for a more in-depth review including photos and footage coming soon. Follow me on Twitter:@wawaamu for updates or email email@example.com for more info.
The Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Protais Mitali, joined hundreds of people at Amahoro National Stadium’s main parking ground in Kigali to mark the closing ceremony of the two-day KigaliUp music festival.
The festival that kicked off on Saturday attracted seasoned musicians from various countries, including South Africa, Zimbabwe, Senegal and the U.S.A.
Many popular and emerging local artistes such as, The Brothers, Dr. Claude, Riderman, Jay Polly, King James, Kamichi, Dream Boyz, Rafiki, Tom Close, Mani Martin, Holy Jah Doves, Abdul Makanyaga and Gaby performed alongside international artistes.
Various cultural music troupes, including Ikombe and Ingoma Nshya, were also involved.
Today, KigaliUp! 2.0 kicked-off its activities with a photography workshop given by Juliet Hutchings. The photography workshop took place at heaven restaurant in Kiyovu. You may ask: why would a music festival organize a photography workshop?
This is the question I addressed to Judo Kanobana, KigaliUp! Production Manager and the CEO Positive Productions. He replied that “capacity building is one of our guiding principles and we therefore offer training workshops as pre-festival training to artists and artisans.”
According to Hutchings, “the goal of this workshop is to facilitate people who are already photographers to expand their photographic skills” says Juliet, “it is an opportunity for all of us either to continue honing our skills in live festival photography or to do it for the first time and really have fun with experiencing what it is like photographing musicians at work,” she added
Juliet Hutchings is an American writer, photographer and videographer with 14 years in television, film and journalism. She has been working in film, television and journalism for the past 14 years in the US, the Czech Republic, Ethiopia, Uganda and Rwanda. Juliet is passionate about visual storytelling and looks forward to many great photo opportunities at the Kigali UP! Festival.
When asked why it is important to train in festival photography, specifically, Hutchings noted that “music festival photography is completely different from shooting a presidential election, a portrait or a wedding. The basic principal is chasing a moment –as with other photography—but with live event photography and musicians, there are practical obstacles and dilemmas such as stage, audience, instruments, etc. A photographer has to work around all of those. We are learning all about that and preparing ourselves to walk into the actual concert equipped.”
When asked about what he hoped the outcome of the workshop would be, Konobana replied “we are expecting that in the near future we will have more cultural photographers with the skills to capture such events.”