Sauti Sol sing, dance in Kigali

Saturday September 24 2016

Kenya’s Sauti Sol entertain at their Live and Die in Afrika tour in Kigali on September 17, 2016. PHOTO |ANDREW KAZIBWE

September 17 was the date and Gikondo Expo Grounds in Kigali was the place to be. Sauti Sol was in town. And it was here that Sauti Sol pitched tent for their Live and Die in Afrika Tour tour and for over two hours, this all-male group kept the revellers entertained.

It started just after 7pm, with local musicians curtain-raising for the group. Yvan Buravan, Uncle Austin, Nyundo School of Music students and The 3 Hills were on the list as was comedian Arthur Nkusi, who doubled as the emcee.

It was thus a well-timed entrance when Bien-Aimé Baraza, Willis Chimano, Savara Mudigi and Polycarp Otieno, the four young men that make up Sauti Sol, took to the stage. And for the next two and a half hours, the group dispelled any doubts of their status as a hit in the region and beyond.

On this particular tour, Sauti Sol was promoting its third album, To Live and Die in Afrika. The first two were Mwanzo (2008) and Sol Filosofia (2011).

Why “live and die in Africa?” Through its journey since 2005, when it was formed, the band has grown to realise how little most of Africa – culture, soil, the sun, people – is appreciated.

Sarara Mudigi, who is the group’s music producer, explains why the new album is more of just a phrase.


“It’s not like you have to live, die and get buried here on the continent. It’s a state of the mind, and a situation whereby anybody from any part of the world who does something positive in dedication to the African continent is appreciated,” he said.

Paying tribute to the continent, Live and Die in Afrika, which comprises 16 songs singles, out and lyrically cherishes the continent. The album is a blend of African songs with danceable rhythm of drums, then the Afro soul tunes lure many fans into singing along during live performances.

With songs such Live and Die in Africa, Nishike, Sura Yako, Nerea, and Shake Yo Bam Bam, the album is for all those attached to the continent. Nerea, featuring Amos and Josh, takes the audience into a meditation on life, African icons and role models from the former South African president Nelson Mandela, musician Miriam Makeba, Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta, Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere, American president Barack Obama, Rwandan President Paul Kagame to Kenyan Oscar award winning Actress Lupita Nyongo among people who have been honoured for their works.

Sura Yako, Live and Die in Afrika and Shake Yo Bam Bam picks up the rhythm, sending the audience into dance, while takes the audience onto feet to dance to a groovy African vibe, while for lovers, Isabella well suits the typical African woman too for its adoration of a lady.

Other songs making their way up to the top of the music charts include Kuliko Jana - a gospel song in which the band features Redfourth Chorus - Say Yeah, Still the One among others.

Sauti Sol’s live stage performance also included songs like the one with Yemi Alade.

After touring other countries like South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, the band is will be in Burundi in September, Botswana on December 3, Cote d’Ivoire on December 18, then finally with Senegal on December 24.

Following its massive success so far, the Award winning band has recently been nominated for OLX Social Awards (OLXSoMA) 2016, African Musik Magazine Awards and African Entertainment Legend Awards 2016.

Contrasted with days gone by, when young people’s choice of careers was more heavily determined by their parents, now most parents openly urge their children to follow their talents and dreams. The quartet, who are all university graduates, are a testament to this new way of doing things.

Sauti Sol’s tour has unveiled several aspects and challenges, “Africa doesn’t generally hold cheap flights, or quality sound and stage for the smooth progress of most event; we just keep trying to make things happen,” explains Willis Chimano.

To the group, they haven’t yet figured out quite well the travel logistics stand required to several countries, yet for several countries getting logistical support is a challenge.