Why Wyre, Naiboi didn't perform at Etana's Pamoja Concert

Etana perfoming at Pamoja Festivals at Ngong Racecourse, Nairobi on October 30, 2021 

After 20 months or so of silence, the city night live events finally returned on Saturday with Jamaican reggae dancehall vocalist Shauna ‘Etana’ McKenzi performing at the Pamoja Festival.

The super-hyped event which went down at the Ngong Racecourse was a cocktail of disappointments and glimpses of what would have otherwise been an amazing concert had everything gone by book.

Emcee Phillipo during the Pamoja Festival.

Emcee Phillipo during the Pamoja Festival.

Photo credit: Thomas Matiko | Nation Media Group

Etana’s fifth return to Kenya was supposed to be memorable and special in many ways. First it was her first international tour since the pandemic and which she is reportedly to have pocketed around Sh3.5 million.

But more importantly was the fact that Etana flew from the United States where she resides, to come promote her eighth studio album Pamoja, in which she featured three Kenyan artistes Naiboi, Wyre and Michael Bundi.

Naiboi who has just released his latest EP, Otero and Wyre were among the eighteen local acts who had been lined up to take to stage before the main headliner Etana.

Kareka the Entertainer, DJ Chroniqs, VJ Chacha, DJ Tush, DJ Mash, Kris Darling Gravity Band, Double Trouble, Trenchtown, DJ Riley, Brownskin gal among others performers were also part of the draft. The performances had been slated to begin at 12 noon and proceed all the way to 12am when Etana was to climax the event.  Only three of the local artistes performed but after Etana had exited the stage.

DJ Lyta during Pamoja Festival

DJ Lyta during Pamoja Festival.

Photo credit: THomas Matiko | Nation Media Group

Most of the revellers at the poorly attended event began streaming to the venue at around eight pm. At this time, the sound at the venue had gone off and there was no performer on stage.

Revellers had to wait for over two hours as they kept themselves busy imbibing far too many pitchers of beers, gin and whiskeys. There was no technical issue with the sound as Nation Africa later established.

“The sound was okay, there was no issue at all. Problem is that the organisers hadn’t cleared paying the balance of hiring the sound provided by The Parrot Group. The organisers wanted to sort them after the show but The Parrot Group heard none of that.”  One of the Emcees at the event told Nation. Africa.

When the issue was finally resolved at around 11pm, Kenyan dancehall star Wyre was expected to step up and cheer up the crowd that had now grown tired of the shambles and were demanding for some live performances.

“This is one of the most disappointing reggae concerts I have been to. I came here with a lot of expectation tonight being the first live concert in such a long time. Then this is what we get? A fan named Jane lamented.

Nation.Africa was also able to establish that Wyre and Gravity Band who were set to curtain raise for Etana never took to stage over payment issues.

“What I know is that Wyre and Gravity were supposed to be paid but that didn’t happen and so they opted not to perform.” An insider briefed.

As for Naiboi it wasn’t clear if he was also to be paid to perform or he was to take to the stage as part of promoting his EP as well as support Etana who featured him on her Legacy song. He was unavailable for comment.

Etana took to the stage at exactly 12 midnight to a relatively less excited crowd if the scenario of her last show in 2019 at Uhuru Gardens was to draw a comparison.

The lively chanteuse started by performing tracks from her Pamoja album which clearly had the crowd struggling to flow with. It was not until she started belting out her popular famous tunes such as weakness, love songs that the crowd walked up. Etana exited the stage 15 minutes to 4AM leaving DJ Mash on the decks and Emcee Phillipo cheering the handful crowd that had since shrank.

When Etana spoke to Saturday Nation ahead of the concert, she hoped for a reminiscence of her previous visit where fans chanted her songs so loud to a point she couldn’t hear herself. This time, she was dismayed.


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