Rwanda has for the past few weeks witnessed a vibrancy in its social scene following the lifting of a ban on public events, seen majorly through an upsurge in music concerts.
This has sparked hope for the revival of the events industry, but posed challenges in addressing the Covid-19 public health guidelines.
Events held so far have been sold out, testament to the void that existed in the entertainment culture at the height of the lockdown.
“Rwandans were really missing attending events and were anxiously waiting for the lockdown to be lifted,” says Judo Kanobano, founder and proprietor of events-organising company Positive Productions.
“We have witnessed several concerts taking place, almost in the space of a day, and they were all sold out,” added Martin Kasirye alias MC Tino.
For event organisers and attendees, the pandemic presents new challenges. The Trappish Concert that took place at the Canal Olympia Auditorium in Rebero on October 30, and the Movember Fest which featured Nigerian Afro-pop musician Adekunle Kasoko Gold on November 5, had challenges around organisation.
A mandatory negative Covid-19 test result at the entrance meant that premises hosted testing exercises, besides ticket verification.
This led to long queues, with many people waiting for hours for test results before making their way to the main ticketing area.
Similar incidents were witnessed at the Ten Years of Bruce Melodie Concert, which took place on November 6 at the Kigali Arena.
“Testing on-site is tricky and inconveniencing for organisers and the public,” says Arthur Nkusi, an emcee, artiste and media personality.
“It creates such a lag in the clearance exercise that one can nearly miss out on an event,” he adds.
Flouting guidelines There is concern that health guidelines like hand washing, wearing of facemasks and physical distancing are barely observed at such events as audiences push for suitable spots and organisers focus on ticketing.
“There is a real challenge in the supervision of social distancing and masking rules since such events involve people drinking and eating and people will definitely remove their masks while doing so,” Nkusi observes.
Another issue has been pricing. Where previously music concerts charged as low as Rwf2,000 ($1.96), they are now charging Rwf10,000 ($9.82), pricy for many entertainment enthusiasts.
“With the Covid19 PCR Test costing Rwf5,000 ($4.9) before an entrance ticket is bought and people are still recovering from hard times, one might choose to ignore the event,” says MC Tino.
Sponsorship has also become harder to come by. “Most sponsors are still skeptical on whether to invest or not since we are still in uncertain times,” notes Kanobano.