Nigerian music icon Olufela Femi Anikulapo Kuti did not disappoint at the FESPAD Gala Night held at Kigali Serena Hotel on Wednesday evening. CEO of RDB, Clare Akamanzi (L) and Sports and Culture minister Protais Mitali (R) at the FESPAD Gala Night.
The afrobeat king, backed up by his Positive force band, and a trio of gyrating female dancers left the audience begging for more, displaying not only his musical might but also his skills on the saxophone.
The Beng Beng Beng singer crowned the live performance at the gala night to celebrate the 8th edition of the Pan African Dance Festival (FESPAD), which also saw Canada-based Rwandan artiste Mighty Popo and comeback Liza Kamikazi perform.
Clad in colourful African attire like the rest of his band, the prominent Nigerian singer stepped on the stage in style, with his band plotting a crowd pleasing entrance for him. The arrival of the band members and the dancers signalled how the performance would turnout.
Dressed in skimpy red pieces covering only the essentials, Femi Kuti's queen dancers sent the audience on their feet, wiggling energetically in a way some would call adult rated.
In a matter of seconds, the balding Femi Kuti hit the stage with his favourite instrument - the saxophone, blowing away several jazz sensations before performing a number of his songs. Prior to his performance, Femi Kuti expressed his admiration for Rwanda.
'Rwanda is a great country with great people. I am amazed by the hospitality and love I was shown ever since I got here. I am equally amazed by the tremendous development that is taking place here,' Femi said.
'The people of Rwanda have been able to overcome the problems they faced years ago. Rwanda is a model country for Africa,' he added.
The singer also could not resist expressing his Pan African stance, pointing out that as an 'African' he felt at home because Rwanda is an African country and that's how Africa should be seen, as one country.
Femi Kuti performed a number of his hits including, Shoki shoki, Africa for Africa crowning it with the global hit Beng Beng Beng.
Even without knowing the songs or the lyrics, Femi Kuti's performance is likely to get everyone on their feet and that is what happened. The wiggling back-up dancers are quite contagious too.
The evening's performances were opened by Mighty Popo. The Canada-based percussionist and guitar maestro performed a number of his songs including Gakondo, Muhazi, Ngire Nte, Rwampuga and Uwibuhoro.
Despite having reservations on how this edition of FESPAD was organised, Mighty Popo reckons that he was happy to be on the performing list, even though it appears 'everything was done at the last minute'.
After Mighty Popo, Liza Kamikazi took the floor, backed by her band, and husband David Wald on the guitar. She proved why she is a force to reckon with after taking a break to concentrate on motherhood.
Liza performed Ngukunde nte and Urare off her new album Iwacu. She also did Juru Ryiza with graceful Rwanda traditional dancers.
This was an opportunity for Liza to showcase herself as an upcoming Rwandan traditional singer, after switching from modern-studio enhanced afrobeat.
Given her talent and stage prowess, Liza Kamikazi was applauded by the audience.
The FESPAD Gala Night which drew Kigali's corporate middle class is one of the many events organised during the week long biennial festival. Six countries are taking part in the festival.
Radio 10's Arnaud Nkusi and Uganda's Flavia Tumusiime were the hosts of the evening.
By Linda M. Kagire
The New Times/01/03/2013