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Just what is ailing Kisumu’s events industry – Raw and Uncut

I have written before about this topic on this blog…and this December people were expecting me to write again about it especially after the I AM AFRICA mishap. My pals Dj Sway and Dj Slim demanded an article from me. Another great pal Henry McKenzie gave me great advice on how to approach this issue without hurting my “business.”

So I took time to be sober about everything and look at the town’s events scenario from a very objective perspective. Of course in what I do objectivity is a myth, I have however tried to look at every detail with the fairness and balance it deserves.

For a long time there has been a tag of war between Kisumu’s party goers and Kisumu event organizers. Kisumu’s party goers have been demanding for good events that rival the likes of “The Mingle“, “The Circle“, and “Blankets and Wine” that Nairobi hosts almost every month. On the other end Kisumu event organizers claim that Kisumu party goers are not willing to pay for good events. So where does the truth lie?

Last December we came so close to Kisumu having it’s first ever version of “Blankets and Wine” after several failed attempts. The first attempt was in 2012 when A local event organizert tried to host a similar event at Kibos Ricemill grounds. The event was an epic fail with only two people showing up. I remember my pal Winfred (aka @Misskanyared on Twitter) calling me from the gate of the venue asking me if the venue had been changed. The organizers put on a brave face but it was indeed an epic fail. The event had everything wrong with it from the publicity front to the choice of venue and the date…it was a learning experience for them.

Came December 2013 and we finally we had removed the jinx…Kisumu was finally going to have it’s first version of “Blankets and Wine” unless somebody intentionally sabotaged it – why do I say that?

Well, a Nairobi events organizer had come down to Kisumu to look for a partner to host the event with.  He was footing all the bills so that means whatever happened, the event was a go! The catch was however that he dint know any local events guy so he approached a friend of his who happens to be a close friend of mine as well. This friend recommended the same local events guy who tried the event the previous year and failed. I think that at the moment I would have suggested him too.

The Nairobi events guy was paying for the Jazz artist, the Dj and the local acts who were to perform too including the sound provider (HoF) and the Venue. Actually every possible cost was covered. The Kisumu event organizer’s role was to get a sound guy, book venue and arrange for local publicity and ticket sales. Everything was going on well until the last minute when the Kisumu event’s guy informed me the event has been called off. Apparently he was blaming it on Sunset Hotel who were to host the gig.

The event organizer according to sources from Sunset Hotel had not booked the venue for the concert. They had informal talks but no official agreements were reached. According to the guy who was funding the show he had already given out cash for the local payments and did not understand why those payments were not made and agreements signed in time. Even until this time several people who had offered certain services towards the event are yet to be paid even though the sponsors claim they had already released Money to make those payments even though the event failed.

The Nairobi event organizer is still looking forward to hosting events in Kisumu but he says he can only do that if he has a credible events organizer to work with. This is not the first time local event organizers are ripping sponsors and party goers. We all remember the now disbanded Airmaxx Interantional that became famed for organizing events and getting advance payments for events that fail to kickoff. This is probably where Untamed Entertainment which was behind the bungled I AM AFRICA LIVE CONCERT is headed as they still cannot explain what they did with the money sent to them for organizing the event.

The event was actually sold out so the argument that Kisumu people cant pay for good events doesn’t hold any water. There is actually no short-cuts in this industry, Kisumu event organizers must just come up with quality events, hype them well and deliver so that they win the people’s trust.

That is not to say that there are no credible event organizers in this town. For years House of Funk organized big events in this town until mid 2000s…I don’t understand what made them shut down the events side of their business. Maybe they wanted to concentrate on providing Stage, Lighting and Sound solutions which they do quite well I must say. It is however time that Mista Ade and HoF critically looked into this opportunity that they are missing out on. Entertainment Companies in Nairobi like Homeboyz Entertainment offer stage, lighting and sound but they also organize big events like the just concluded SEPETUKA that brought several international Djs and Artists to Nairobi in November.

Victoria Entertainment owned by Aleki Alex is also doing a great job having succesfully hosted Kisumu’s premier music awards for two years in a row now. Alex seems to understand the importance of bringing in corporate sponsors to his events but they too can improve on their game and move into major league events that will change the face of this town and their bank balances.

We are not short of venues….Dunga Hill Camp could host a very nice “Blankets and Wine” or ” The Mingle” sort of event.

It’s time Kisumu event organizers thought seriously about their long term investment and image. At the same time it would be wrong for me to finish this article without diagnosing our problem – so here it is, our events industry is being ailed by event organizers and promoters who are out to make a quick buck even if it means defrauding service providers, sponsors and party lovers.

As long as we still have the likes of Untamed Entertainment and Airmaxx International running events with poor planning and questionable financial credibility then we still have a long way to go.

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  • samba Reply

    January 7, 2014 at 11:13 am

    kindly contact SAMBA & ASSOCIATES CONSULTANCY (SAC) is a client-based, service-oriented event planning and management firm that utilizes a cost-effective professional approach to deliver quality services to current and prospective clients. Since its foundation, SAC has been committed to being a dedicated firm that consistently meets and exceeds the expectations of its clients IN EVENT MANAGEMENT.

    Event management is considered one of the strategic marketing and communication tools by companies and organizations of all sizes. From product launches to press conferences, companies and organizations create promotional events to help them communicate with clients and/or potential clients.

    At SAC, We have immense passion for the planning and organizing of events and therefore provide the services needed for any event including catering, entertainment, travel arrangements and much more at well negotiated prices. We specialize in both corporate events (trade shows, conferences, etc.) and private/social events (weddings, anniversaries and birthdays).

    SAC has teamed up with all entertainers in Kisumu including stand up comedians, Joke Crackers, Performing theatre groups and artistes from Kisumu City to promote the laugh industry in Kisumu City.

    For more info, kindly contact,

    Principal Consultant & CEO
    Samba & Associates Consultancy

    P.O. Box 7931 – 40100 Kisumu
    Phone: (+254) 0721 295 5974
    Chekmula Building, 2nd Floor, Suite 19, Jomo Kenyatta Highway, Kisumu City

  • Byron Reply

    January 9, 2014 at 7:13 am

    Good article and informative for us passing through Kisumu on a regular basis.Indeed its tragic,events dont occur.I had hoped to arrive for the 21st,seems i missed a bullet there.Indeed there is a large untapped festival,concert,music market in western kenya from as far afield as Eldoret,Kakamega that would attend events in Kisumu.Perhaps interested stakeholders should come together and form an event firm.Marketing of events clearly is also not done,rather it tends to be very local immediate marketing in respect of some of the events like the Fashion week.


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