Big moves. Two years ago, Eddy Kenzo started preparations for his first festival, which was going to be a two-day event. However, just a few months to the event, the pandemic hit and the festival was put on hold. Because of the preparations, Eddy Kenzo had to re-strategise when the economy opened this year. Isaac Ssejjombwe catches up with him on this and more.
The idea of a festival
Eddy Kenzo has held concerts before, but he believes it is time for him to upgrade to a festival that is happening tomorrow at Kololo Independence Grounds.
“I decided to do a festival because it has a lot of benefits. Concerts usually start in the evening, so the audience does not get to have as much fun as they deserve. Even performers at concerts are limited, which is not the case with a festival,” Kenzo says.
He revealed that his festival will be a whole day and night event, with so many activities, including horse riding, artistes, comedians, deejay and drama performances, several competitions, a children’s play area and fashion shows, among others. There will also be helicopter rides for revellers at a small cost.
Besides the benefits, the BET award winner says he has been able to build a huge fanbase over the years that is willing to come for the festival. Some will come to enjoy the experience while others will come to make a living.
“This is not just for me but for so many people who will be at Kololo. I am talking about those who will be earning something through selling T-shirts, food and offering different services. People will also be feeding their families off this festival and I want to give some percentage of the profit to charity. We have built this together and to celebrate someone when they are still alive,” says Kenzo.
Road to the festival
While preparing for the festival, the singer did countrywide shows dubbed Road to Eddy Kenzo Festival. Kenzo performed in Mbarara, Nakasongola, Jinja, Bwera, Gulu, Mbale, Lira, Fort Portal, Arua, and Kabale, among other districts.
Originally planned to happen for two days, the festival will now be a one-day event because of some logistical issues.
“I had partnered with an events promoter known as Moses Lubulwa, alias Luba Events, but when Covid-19 hit us, he was among the people who benefited from the government stimulus fund given to promoters for their losses in organising concerts. I waited for him to get back to me but he did not,” Kenzo stated.
Because of his brand and fame, many promoters were willing to invest in this festival but Kenzo decided to risk and organise it himself and when we asked why he would go into something he has little experience about, he says all potential promoters were just taking him for granted.
“They have been offering less than his expectations. I know my worth but they just wanted to take advantage of me, so I decided to organise it myself,” Kenzo says.
Kololo has been politicised, with many saying the venue is only available for those who are affiliated to the NRM, but Kenzo refutes those allegations, saying Kololo Independence Grounds is just like any other venue and he only took his festival there because he felt it could accommodate the crowd best.
He adds that it is the perfect place for his downtown fans to mingle with his uptown fans.
“I chose Kololo because I will be able to bring my fans together and bridge that gap. I will bring my ghetto people to Kololo to celebrate our growth. You will see those without shirts in the same place with those in suits,” he says.
Mooting rumours that he was given the venue free of charge, Kenzo says he went through the right channels to book it. He however, adds that he would have deserved getting the venue free of charge given the contribution he has made to the country. He mentions artistes such as Diamond Platinumz, Wizkid who have performed at Kololo grounds yet they do not belong to NRM and also called upon other artistes to try it out.
The singer says this is going to be a mostly musical festival, where all big artistes will perform, not just Ugandans but his friends from other countries as well.
“There will be performances starting at 10am when the gates open until midnight and you will see them at a cheap rate. You cannot get this anywhere else.”
Among the artistes confirmed to perform include Chameleone, Bebe Cool, Gravity Omutujju, Ykee Benda, Rickman, Latinum, Uga boys, Chris Evans, David Lutalo, Zambia’s Mampi, Tanzania’s Hermonize, South Sudan’s John Frogta and Kenyan’s Bahati, among others.
With this festival happening two years later, so much investment had already been made; for instance, the venue and various service providers had already been booked which he refused to see as a setback. Kenzo says at this point, giving up was not an option, so he chose to contiue planning with the faith that God would bring everything to fruition.
“Sometimes giving up is not an option. Covid-19 was God’s plan. I decided to pick myself up and soldier on. This festival is a day of celebrating life and all my achievements with my fans, so there was no way it was not going to happen,” says the singer.
Love from his fans
Before the lockdown, Kenzo appeared in a video saying he was not getting as much love back home, as got from the other countries where he performed. He said Ugandans were unappreciative of his efforts to sell Luganda and Uganda abroad, but when asked if he still felt the same way, the Sitya Loss singer said things have changed over time.
“That is no longer the case. Ugandans now understand and appreciate me. I have filled up venues during the Road to Eddy Kenzo Festival and I am the first artiste to do so and it is because of people’s support that we have managed to achieve successful shows. Besides that, it is mostly Ugandans who have been voting for me in the awards that I have managed to win. I am so grateful to Ugandans,” he said.
Is he the biggest artiste in Uganda?
Gravity Omutujju recently came out and named Eddy Kenzo as the biggest artiste in Uganda but Kenzo says he is not working for rankings.
“If Gravity decided to give me that position, I thank him for that but I am not here to work for rankings, I am here to challenge myself from one level to another,” Kenzo says.
With close to 15 years in the game, Kenzo believes he has achieved more than most of his peers.
“I believe I am so far from where I anticipated to be and I am so grateful to God but when it comes to success, everyone is successful in their own way. Someone might be successful yet they are unknown to many. When it comes to numbers and records, I am obviously the best and you know that,” he says.
The artiste has managed to continue breaking records and winning awards inspite of his detractors who claim he is untalented. “My weapon is just being unpredictable and keeping everyone guessing my next move. With this, people will not know how to deal with you,” he says.
Most recent successful project
Because of the festival, little attention has been given to Eddy Kenzo’s Gimme Love song alongside Matt B but as of November 1, the song had climbed the Billboard Afrobeats US songs chart.
He has, however, vowed to put more emphasis on the song once the festival is done.
“I would like to appreciate Matt B’s contribution to the song. He has invested in its promotion and is solely responsible for where it is today. I have not yet been involved in the song because I have been busy with the festival but I am going to start from where he has pushed the track,” Kenzo says.
Kenzo says he will only be content after building a record label that will sustain Uganda’s music industry for the next 30 years. A record label that will nurture people who will feed the music industry professionally.
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