Maisha Afro-Euro music lights up Kigali

Saturday October 30 2021

French saxophonist Guillaume Perret and Fatime Songoro collabo. PHOTO | COURTESY


Deo Munyakazi lit up the Kigali Arena on Monday with a peace song as he strummed the traditional Inanga and Ikinyuguri, during the Maisha Afro-European concert, marking the return of live music concerts in Kigali.

The evening event jointly organised by the European Union and African Union attracted 1,500 people.

The objective of the concept was to bring African and European musicians and instrumentalists onto the same stage for a fusion of music.


The stable of 12 blended musicians — Tito Al Uribe, Belgian pianist Jeff Neve, French saxophonist Guillaume Perret, English multi-Grammy Award winner Joss Stone and Kenyan Nyatiti player Makadem, Nancy Mutize, a Zimbabwean traditional performer, Munyakazi — appeared in one band called Maisha who entertained an enthusiastic crowd at the Kigali Arena.

They were drawn from Tanzania, Kenya, Poland, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Belgium, France, Morocco and Rwanda.


The artistes who only had 48 hours to practice together, often performed in blended Afro-Euro pairs, and eventually more musicians from multiple countries performed all at once, offering a real fusion of music.

Fatime Songoro, a Hungarian-Tanzanian saxophonist was a star in her own at the concert.

Music fans

Music fans at the Maisha Concert at the Kigali Arena on Monday. PHOTO | COURTESY

“It was a great mix of Zimbabwean melodies, French tunes, Polish brass, Moroccan beats, Ethiopian strings, Tanzanian chords and Rwandan vibes, mixed for an AU-EU blend of Maisha,” said one concert-goer.

The arena reverberated with a melody medley as Kigalians starved of live entertainment danced and enjoyed the moment.

However, the harsh realities of the times were not far behind as every concert attendee had to first undergo a rapid Covid-19 test at the entrance, then wait to present a negative result before being allowed in.

It was a tedious and laborious process, but it did not deter the public who could not wait to enter the arena for the free concert. Health and safety concerns remain paramount in the pandemic era.

Delivering miracle

Although the arena wasn’t even half full considering its capacity, the entrance was full as people lined up to take the Covid-19 test and enjoy a rare occasion of a concert in October amid strict Covid rules.

Testing more than 1,500 people on site in a few hours so they could attend the concert took a lot of preparation and resources, but it was worth it, looking at how the performances made people happy.

Thomas Huyghebaert, the head of policy and co-operation at EU Delegation to the African Union, called it a miracle.

“We did it again. The miracle all prepared in 48 hours, over 1,500 joined the Afro-Euro music fusion.”

Gig workers from DJs, MCs, event organisers and those on event protocols and security, to T-shirt printers and other merchandise cashed in.

Entertainment workers who lived on events and live entertainment had struggled to stay afloat since the pandemic broke out last year, but now concerts and events have brought a ray of hope for the gig economy.

Bars, restaurants and other entertainment businesses have reopened in Rwanda, and the fact that curfew now ends at midnight is helping many of these businesses start to limp back to life as they try to recover from the effects of the pandemic.