Thrills and spills at East Africa Got Talent’s debut

Saturday August 10 2019

 

By Paul Owere

Four months after famous talent show Got Talent was launched in East Africa the show has begun airing the recorded episodes and already there is plenty on offer.

The show that brings four East African counties showcases a variety of talents from people of all ages, with acts ranging from singing, dancing, comedy, magic, juggling, stunts and other variety genres.

At stake is the $50,000 prize money that will go to the eventual winner of the 2019 edition but from the onset most of the contestants motivation is not the prize money.

John Kibe from Nyeri and his talking Wandindi is looking for a platform to showcase his instrumentalist playing skills with the hope of getting gigs in the coming days.

His tale is echoed by those from Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda who all look forward to better days after their stint at the show, which was founded by Simon Cowel.

Kicking off the proceedings of the day was Uganda’s ‘All Eyes on Us,’ an acrobat and dance group made up of young boys and girls raised from disadvantaged backgrounds.

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They were an awe to watch as their stunts blew the audience away; the judges from Gaetano Kagwa to Vanessa Mdee all gave a nod as they walked to the next round.

The Bongas from Tanzania put up a spirited performance, which left the judges on the edge of their seats.

Gloria and Vincent from Kenya put up a well choreographed contemporary dance, which also got them the green light.

The show, which does not have an age limit and instead focuses on talent, seemed to have something for young talent as the girls from Rwanda showed.

The graceful Uruyange dance from the girls was a crowd puller as the young girls went through the motions of the drumbeats.

“The timing, the grace, the enthusiasm, the smiles….they are very talented,” said Gaetano Kagwa as he gave the girls a nod to the next round.

However, it was Seven-year-old Leyna Kagere, who got the first golden buzzer after she put up a talented performance got the judges in a fix, eventually Judge Vanessa Mdee convincing the panel to hit the buzzer.

Under the tutelage of her mother, Leyna’s vocal range was far above many of today’s adult performers as she hit both the high and the low notes, sending the audience into applause.

“I have been singing since I was five,” said little Leyna when she was quizzed by Jeff Koinange.

Fidele Fle, 32, the first Rwandan contestant to feature on the show, wowed the judges with a love song and his skills on the guitar, getting a nod from all four judges –TV host Jeff Koinange, Tanzania songstress Vanessa Mdee, former Big Brother Africa 2003 contestant, Gaetano Kagwa, and Rwanda’s Makeda Mahadeo.

Just like at many other such shows there was disappointment as well, Mariah, a Juggler from Tanzania could not make it as well as Daniel Ochieng from Kenya, whose skills as a ‘professional mourner’ did not move the judges.

Chande from Dar es Salaam who blows a flute using his nose too, didn’t make it to the next round after he presented a very flat performance, he was told to come back next year.

To some of the performers, despite this being just the preliminary round, the future is filled with plenty of promise as talent promoters will have their work cut.

The show is set to show every Sunday on Clouds TV in Tanzania, Citizen TV in Kenya and NBS in Uganda with the grand finale set for October.

The show, which is powered by Safaricom and Coca Cola Africa, drew mixed reactions on social media, with many expressing their disappointment that it is not live.

The show will have 10 episodes, with the semi-finals and grand finalé shot live on location in Kenya.

Although Burundi and South Sudan are part of the East African Community, the countries were missing from the list of where participants can come from.

Nevertheless, there is nothing to suggest restrictions on participants from there.

East Africa has previously had the Tusker Project Fame (TPF) sponsored by East African Breweries Ltd, which ran between 2006 and 2013.

Unlike TPF, however, EAGT is not just a singing show. It is open to people with any kind of talent, from playing musical instruments or singing, dancing, or doing magic tricks, acrobatic or even stand-up comedy.

The Got Talent franchise was started in 2006 by Simon Cowell, an English television music critic, businessman, talent manager, television producer and entrepreneur.

He is famous for being a no-nonsense judge in the early seasons of American Idol, a US reality music talent show.

He later judged The X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent and America’s Got Talent.

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