The climax of the Tigo Fiesta is something that many revellers look forward to.
For the past 18 years it has been one of the hottest events on the entertainment calendar.
To the artistes this was at one point a career dream. To revellers it is a day catch a glimpse of both local and international stars on one stage, for it comes after several weeks of a trail that takes tens of artistes to regional towns.
In fact, many of today’s big names in the Bongo Flava game got to the limelight by performing on this stage at a certain point in their careers
This year, this wasn’t the case, despite the earlier regional tour that sent some of the sleepy towns into life. The climax ended in heartbreak and disappointment.
The week before had witnessed preparations which involved ferrying of tonnes of lighting and sound equipment, erecting the ultra modern stage, repair of the perimeter fencing, the ticketing booths plus other related logistics including CCTV cameras.
All this, however, went to waste after municipal authorities sent a last minute revocation of venue rights advising the show organisers Primetime Promotions to relocate to a new venue.
This is not the kind of contingence that any show planner and promoter want on their cards whatsoever.
This was practically impossible and it would have required some divine powers for organisers to relocate to Tanganyika Parkers as they had been ordered by the Municipal officials.
They cited things like the venue being too close to a hospital and that residents had complained of the loud music played at Leaders Club.
Sources say that organisers made efforts to secure the venue went on throughout the night and early in the morning but all this was in vein.
Disappointment was written all over, from the artistes to the businesses that had pitched camp at on the ground to provide services.
There were many questions than answers at this stage, especially the sudden U-turn by the same authorities that had earlier on given a nod for the show to go on as planned.
The reasons that the authorities gave are still not very convincing.
This had been the cradle for the festival that was founded some 18 years ago.
During that period, the only time that the extravaganza was not held at Leaders Club was when organisers took it to the National Stadium and in 2009 when they hosted US rapper Buster Ryhmes at Kijitonyama’s Posta Grounds.
The stories that were told about the National Stadium were not very friendly as goons terrorised revellers whereas the congestion at the Posta Grounds made it almost inaccessible, making Leaders’ Club the only option.
The question that remains unanswered is why did the authorities left it late to pull the plug on organisers with very flimsy reasons that cannot on any given day hold water.
While doing our rounds, the hospital that the authorities quoted was quite categorical that they were not affected in any way with the ‘noise’ from the grounds and the activity there.
Lack of a well equipped venue for such concerts has always been voiced by show organisers and should the Cultural officers insist that no one can hold such concerts at Leaders Club then it would mean Dar cannot hold such concerts.
Huge money is always invested in shows of that magnitude and because ticket sales alone cannot guarantee organisers the return on investment, therefore, they involve other stake holders in provision of services.
These include letting out stalls that provide services to revellers who are usually in their thousands. The services range from soft drinks to food and sometimes even liquor.
But as fate would have it, one woman Beatrice Msacky would only reap losses after she invested some Sh 3 million in a food vending business hoping to reap handsomely from her efforts.
She had to look for buyers elsewhere to recoup the loan that she had taken from one of her relatives in town.
Msacky’s case is one out of the many. There are those who learnt about the revocation too late as they had travelled hundreds of miles to witness the grand finale of what has become a celebration of Bongo Flava.
Naima Hassan is a resident of Mukuranga in Coast Region. Her town did not have the privilege to host the any of the preliminary shows, she had travelled all the way for the final showdown.
“I bought my ticket early enough via mobile money and it is rather disappointing that I only learnt that the show had been postponed after I arrived in the city’” says the 28-year-old.
Agony for musicians
For the many years that the event has existed, it has served as the pay day that many look forward to given the fact that piracy has eaten into copy sales and very few artistes earn royalties any more.
Speaking in the aftermath of the cancellation, rapper Roma registered his disappointment and according to him the countrywide tour is usually in preparations for the final show in Dar es Salaam.
“This is where we come to prove to our peers and fans what we have been up to, there are times when we wished we could even perform for free,” says Roma who first graced the Fiesta stage in 2014.
He doesn’t point fingers but instead he says the authorities should have been considerate given the investment that all those involved had put in.
“We put in a lot of work for shows of this magnitude. Though there has to be regulation in everything that we do authorities should have been considerate before cancelling the show,” he says.
There were confusing claims and on top of it all was one that linked some top executives of Clouds Media Group having interests in the newly born Wasafi.
There has been simmering hostility between the two camps though no one has come out to lay claim on what is really at stake.
As credible as this might be, on this day the Wasafi festival’s inaugural gig was taking place in the southern region of Mtwara and there was just no way it could have affected the proceedings in Dar es Salaam.
Whatever the reasons, authorities are yet to set out a clear guideline in the process leaving it to speculation and gossip.
The festival has without doubt undergone a metamorphosis in the last 17 years, now reaching almost every corner of the country under the theme Vibe Kama Lote.
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.
For the last decade and a half 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, Boys II Men, Kate De Luna, Lil Kim, Joe Thomas, Busta Rhymes, Koffi Olomide, Rick Ross, J Martins, Bracket, Ludacris and many others.