Dar es Salaam. Arusha is Tanzania’s gateway to the northern tourist circuit that is home to some of the world’s unique attraction which includes the Serengeti, Ngorongoro and the Kilimanjaro among others.
These attraction makes it a dream place for many tourists both local and international who stopover before their different expeditions take shape.
This weekend, the tourist city is in the spotlight as it hosts the launch of the annual Tigo Fiesta entertainment extravaganza at the Sheikh Amri Abeid Stadium with a host of local artistes gracing the stage.
This will be the first time that Arusha City aka A- Town hosts the opening event of the festival which is now 16 years.
This time around it is a local show by local artistes who are adored countrywide because of their chart topping hits.
The stage has been set for the big day for a city that was once notorious for hooliganism during such concerts leading to the cancellation of some gigs in the past.
The festival which has in the past comes with different themes every year has been christened ‘Tumekusoma’.
Some of the past themes were ‘Sambaza Upendo’ (Spread Love), ‘Twenzetu’ One Love, Bhaaasi, Hakuna Majotroo that became instant house hold names.
Work on security and stage setup was in its final stages by Primetime Promotions with hundreds of security personnel set to be deployed in and around the stadium.
Speaking exclusively to s early this week Tigo’s marketing manager William Mpinga said hooliganism is a thing of the past and the city was ready to host the annual opening event. “We and our partners have done everything possible to make sure that every concert goers comes, enjoys the festival and leave safely at their own leisure,” says Mpinga.
He adds: Whatever is in the rumour mill about hooliganism are things that happened in the past before we took over the partnership to run this festival.
An Arusha based journalist attached to this paper revealed to the beat that CCTV cameras had been installed in and around the stadium to oversee the events on Saturday.
“I have been inside the stadium and from the look of things, great detail has been taken to ensure everything goes smoothly during the concert,” he says.
There is every indication that a lot of ground work has been done give the reputation that Arusha left on them in 2011 when goons robbed concert goers either on their way to or on their return.
What is at stake?
The party trail which shall then kick off a countrywide tour ahs in the past build a reputation as a career launch pad, a talent search and a traditional music showcase.
Clouds Media Group and Tigo have released the list of artistes who are set to perform and as promised it is an all local line-up; something they say was due to the local demand. According to Mpinga Bongo Flava has made giant strides in the past two decades something that he says warrants a celebration.
“We have tried that route before and for many years. Though we can say it delivered results, the time is now right for us to explore what our own artistes can offer the audience that celebrates them,” says the source.
The artistes that have so far been revealed include AliKiba, Jux, Christian Bela, Joh Makini, Mr Blue and Saida Karoli among others.
This to some of the named artistes will be a pay day that none can say no to and it will mark the return of Saida Karoli as the festival will finally grant her the opportunity to meet her countrywide audience.
Last year’s trial of an all African cast might have worked for the organisers given the astronomical fees they have to pay for the Western artistes to perform here, it, however, didn’t board very well with most revellers.
The talent search programme called Super Nyota which runs parallel to the tour has in the past years unearthed talent that have come to dominate the industry such as Ney Lee, Darasa, Rachel and even Ruby who rebelled against the establishment last year.
The programme returns as part of the side events that will take place alongside the festival in the coming two months.
Equally the festival is set to host a traditional dance contest, one that brings cultural troupes in a showcase of some of the unique African dances, with some being on the verge of extinction.
Organisers have christened the contest ‘Tamadunika’ and they say it is only through such that today’s generation can have firsthand experience of such dances.
“As much as it is dominated by today’s generation of artistes, we find it necessary to keep it grounded to our traditions as Tanzanians who have a heritage to protect,” Joseph Kusaga once told The Beat.
The party trail, which is now called Tigo Fiesta was born in the late 90s with the first show taking place at Slipway in Dar es Salaam, by then it was known as ‘Summer Jam’ but due to negative publicity it had to undergo some rebranding to suit the demands of concert goers.
For the last decade the festival has continued to grow to accommodate more local artistes, genres and regions.
It has also over the years featured high profile performances from international artistes such as Shaggy, Kate De Luna, Lil Kim, Joe Thomas, Busta Rhymes, Koffi Olomide, Rick Ross, J Martins, Bracket, Yemi Alade, Ludacris, Tecno, Davido, Wizkid and many others.
The party trail that is into last half of its second decade has in the past left a rich trail of history that has kept thousands in the country and beyond entertained.
However apart from the artistes who reap big during this season there are several business that target this season especially in the hospitality industry.
Apart from Arusha the Tigo Fiesta 2017 – Tumekusoma festivities will take place in Kahama, Musoma, Mwanza, Tabora and Dodoma regions respectively. The festival will then move to Iringa, Songea and Njombe before rocking Sumbawanga, Morogoro, Tanga, Moshi, Mtwara Regions with a grand finale set for Dar in November.
With the change of tact and approach, potential concert goers are anxiously waiting for what their stars can provide in the absence of foreign backup!