Anybody can have a piece of Bob Marley, great voice or not

Friday February 14 2014
jam session

Bob Marley fans celebrate the reggae legend’s 69th birthday at KGL Pub in Kinamba, Kigali, on February 6, 2014. Photos/Daniel Sabiiti

The venue is KGL Pub in Kinamba, a Kigali suburb, and the occasion Bob Marley’s birthday.

A dreadlocked guy called Packo takes to the stage and belts out Bob Marley’s Redemption Song. He then goes into No Woman No Cry, another Bob Marley classic, which he compellingly nails.

When he is done doing his thing, the night’s MC, Remmy Lubega, applauds him, joined by the ecstatic crowd – unmistakably high on beer. But tonight being the reggae legend’s birthday, some patrons could also be high on something else, who knows?

TPF experience

Next is Gabiro, that girl who represented Rwanda in last year’s Tusker Project Fame contest (remember her?)

She squeezes the life out of her vocal chords to Bob Marley’s Could You Be Loved? to the delight of the audience. She’s quite a gem on stage; but that’s not surprising, considering her TPF experience.


After two or three more songs, Gabiro cedes the stage to Teta – she of the Fata Fata fame. Teta begins with a snippet of Fata Fata before treating her audience to a rendition of Bob Marley’s Everything Is Gonna Be Alright. She then walks off the stage as some drunken members of the audience scream “Encore!” to no avail.

This is not a show

But this is not a show; it’s a jam session! It is not just a stage for musicians and quasi artistes to showcase. So, anyone who wants to have his or her croaked voice heard is free to ask for the microphone.

And the good thing is, there are no judges to criticise anyone’s performance – it’s just about having fun.

Tonight’s jam session is dedicated to Bob Marley, so anyone who steps on stage is expected to croon a Bob Marley tune – and do so with a sense of naturalness and fun. Some patrons sing off-key, others get it right, but almost every performer gets a thunderous applause from the audience!

Thursday night was a chance for everyone in attendance to belt out their favourite Bob Marley song, be happy and release the high stress levels common with city dwellers. All one needed to do was guzzle lots of beer to get rid of stage fright.

At the end of the event it was evident that the jam session, which takes place here every Thursday night, is popular among Kigalians, especially the corporate type. And that many revellers love this type of entertainment because it is all-embracing.

Better still, entrance is free – all you have to do is buy yourself a drink. Or a snack. Or anything that is on sale at this nook. Skol is cheaper during the jam session because its brewer is the sponsor of the night.

Bob Marley was born in Nine Mile, Jamaica, on February 6, 1945, and died at 45 in Miami, Florida, in the United States, on May 11, 1981.