Salif Keita leaves Malawi disappointed

Mali’s Afro-pop singer, Salif Keita has, definitely, left Malawi disappointed man after his billed one-time music romance at Blantyre Arts Festival (BAF) was marred by disorganization and equipment hitches.

Keita was listed as main international headliner for this year’s BAF. He and his full band performed on the evening of Friday at the French Cultural Centre in Blantyre.

However, the show did not go well as anticipated despite impressive turn out, as it was delayed for hours before Keita performed.

And his stage time was all disappointing to such artist of international caliber as the equipment hitches marred what was a night to remember for many.

Keita performing in Malawi.- Photo by Kimpho Loka/Nyasa Times

Trouble was, however, noted from the moment Keita stepped into the country. He failed to address journalists as was slated due to poor media coordination by the organizers.

If that is not all, the artist who was expected to be on stage at 8pm according to BAF released program only got on stage three hours later as his team had to take hours setting up band equipment and sound-checking.

The equipment hitches was noted earlier on when some of the curtain-raisers like Sally Nyundo and Black Missionaries had to bear the twitching noise the equipment made.

It was later discovered that the problem was due to inadequate electricity power inflow and poor connections between stage lights and the band equipments, as the latter consuming much power.

Keita jetted in the country straight from Zambia where he performed a day earlier for French Embassy and was in the country through funding from Alliance Françoise in Zambia.
His Performance

After over an hour of setting up equipment, Keita one of high profile African artists, got on stage at exactly 11:25pm to the applause of the impatient audience, dressed in his trademark white Wilson hat, grey and yellow stripped shirt and pair trousers, quickly went to the performance that started with a bow-a courtesy to the audience.

He performed three songs before the equipment started misbehaving, producing ear-twitching sounds to the discomfort of the man-of-the-night who immediately, for a stint, halted performance in reaction.

Through out the show, it was visible Keita was not all happy with the equipment hitches as at some moments was seen standing a side, shaking his head in dissatisfaction, as the band continue performing.

Being an international acclaimed and award winning artist, Keita did not want to let out to the audience his frustration about the equipment fault, he rather forced himself to dance but it as all clear, he was not whole self.

His performance was though impressive as he used skilled gained throughout his career to the amazement of the excited audience. The combination of ethno and modern instruments made the night worth to party-away at such gathering.

And the pick of the night was when he performed much anticipated hit song, Africa, which lifted the audience into its feet, as many could not resist a dance.

In an interview, Keita, not much fluent with English, while resisting the reporters just said: “I am disappointed, very disappointed with the equipment”. He refused to take further more questions.

BAF hired renowned music promoter, Jai Banda’s equipment which was combined some Keita’s ethno instruments for the Mali’s Afro-pop concert.

It was not first time foreign artists have complained about the local music equipments, as other artists such as Oliver Mtukudzi, Brick and Lace have once lamented about the poor quality of the local promoters’ band equipments.

Prior Keita’s performance, the audience had time to be entertained by our very own artists in the likes of poet Q Malewizi, Hudson Chamasowa, Fikisa, Agoloso, Baba Ngoni, Michael Mbenjala and the reggae grouping, Black Missionaries.

Apart from Salif Keita, BAF has loped in some other foreign artists such as Pastor G of Zimbabwe, Green Buffalos Theatre of Zambia, Evelyn Kryger band from Hannover, German. It is only the Edzai Isu theatre from Zimbabwe currently known to have pulled out of the festival at eleventh hour after its play was banned in its country.

This year BAF returns with expanded categories and re-launched the closed French Culture Centre (FCC), which government has authorized to be opened strictly for the annual gathering of both local and international artists from Thursday 4 October to October 7.

Salif Keita performing at FCC Friday night.- Photo by Kimpho Loka/Nyasa Times

The audience at Blantyre Arts Festival.- Photo by Kimpho Loka/Nyasa Times

Part of the audience enjoying Keita’s performance.- Photo by Kimpho Loka/Nyasa Times

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