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Who's responsible for failed events?

Sunday November 11 2018

Nigerian artiste Wizkid.

Nigerian artiste Wizkid on stage during the Katika Festival at the Afraha Stadium, Nakuru County, on November 03, 2018. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP. 

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Flopping events have become an all too common occurrence leaving in their wake scores of disappointed fans. BONIFACE NYAGA looks into what is going wrong


Just a few weeks ago, Nigerian singer Tiwa Savage, in a social media rant, complained that promoters had failed to pay for her hotel room. It emerged later that a hotel room had actually been booked in a top end facility but she had refused to check in because she wasn’t satisfied with it.

Although promoters have been known to mistreat and even swindle artistes, sometimes they are not to blame. With so many people working in the supply chain to put together an event, a single mistake from any quarter can lead to a catastrophe.

When things go wrong it is often hard to ascertain what exactly happened, as social media noise drowns the facts. All the different players take defensive positions and toss blame all over the place. What is sure, however, is that when the ship drowns everyone goes down with it.



The Katika Festival in Nakuru and the Chaget Festival in Eldoret held last weekend are the latest examples of just what can go wrong at an event.

Trouble for the organisers of Katika Festival started on Saturday night. Revellers took to social media to complain about the long queues and overall disorganisation at the event.

“The mess that is at the entrance to Afraha Stadium !!! From 10pm to 1.40am!! And I still left guys outside!!Kuingia ilikuwa vita!! Waste of a night! #KatikaFestival” @Aondz

“#KatikaFestival I have paid money... Came from Nairobi... And I’m still outside with others.... Smh.” @elidaadilelia

“Now Wizkid is here and the sound is pathetic. Live band trying so hard to catch up. DJ was so clueless man's kept disappointing Wizkid he was almost crying. He did a cappella almost half of the show cos sound wasn't coming through. Mo Sound apo mmechoma #KatikaFestival” @jamlick__ was horrible.I saw things. On the plus side @KHALIGRAPH killed it. @WanguiRealist

In a public notice, organisers of the Katika Festival apologised for the long queues. In their defence, G-sort Limited claimed that they had put in place stringent security measures that made the entrance process lengthy. They also blamed the confusion on working with suppliers who were not familiar with each other and so lacked co-ordination. However, the debacle and the negative publicity that followed was also attributed to other third parties.

“There were stories that veteran event organisers are colluding to frustrate upcoming players. I didn’t believe it at first but now I have seen it in action,” Mike Epale, CEO of G-sort Limited told Buzz.

“The barriers have extended to the corporate world. These veterans collude with corporate players to frustrate new comers as much as they can until you slot them in on what you are doing.”


Riots were reported at the Eldoret Sports Club Grounds after Harmonize failed to perform over alleged non-payment of performance fees. However, Shado Creations Limited, the organisers of Chaget Festival, have produced what they claimed to be evidence of transactions with Wasafi Limited, the Bongo star’s

record company. MC Kiptabut was hosting the event, and by his account all was going well until it was time for the main act to take the stage. He said:

“The problem began when Harmonize and his team refused to accept Kenyan shillings but instead insisted on receiving dollars. He had already been given a deposit and the balance was to be paid from the gate fees so there was no way to exchange the money at night. Artistes need to respect promoters, it takes a lot of investment to make events happen.”

CEO of Shado Creations Concept Limited, Douglas Obabe aka Omondi wa Mercedes, spent the better half of the weekend behind bars after the chaos. According to him, the confusion was made worse when a supplier who was handling gate fees made away with the night’s earnings.

“We had agreed with one of the suppliers that they would collect the initial gate fees to recover their cost then hand over to the main collection agent. When it was time to pay Harmonize, we made our way to his hotel with the money,” he said.

“After he refused to take Kenyan currency, we contacted his management and finally got an agreement. By then, however, the person who had the money had already left, leaving us stranded, with no money or car to transport the artiste. Nonetheless, we are working on getting Harmonize back for a free event, we must give fans the best.”


A leading cause of botched events is the overlapping of duties. Players often cut out critical components of an event to save money.

An event organiser is the logistical arm of the event, while the promoter is the investor and the various suppliers execute the plan. There are technical suppliers like sound, lighting, video production, and logistical suppliers such as security, gate collection, marketing, public relations. Then there is production team which includes the talent such as artistes, backup singers, band, deejays and all other performers. Often, a player may have efficiencies in one aspect of the event, but instead of partnering or hiring the other elements, they choose to do it themselves.

Artistes and repertoire (A&R) is an area that has in the recent past caused a lot of problems in the industry. In charge of co-ordinating logistics and solving conflicts between organisers and the talent, A&R is a critical part of any showbiz project. Failure to manage an artiste’s expectations have caused many embarrassing moments in the industry.

“We all need each other, every role is so critical that it is almost impossible to do it all. I am a good MC and an event organiser, but I cannot be performing on stage and still manage the event,” says Christopher Kirwa, CEO of CateChris Limited.

“In developed markets the industry is very well stratified. Companies specialise and master their skill then collaborate with other players who are equally good at what they do. There are even companies which only stock event technology and rent them out to suppliers, unlike our case, where some people think owning equipment makes you an event organiser. These issues will always be with us until we stop taking small shortcuts, we must work together.”