Rwanda’s capital Kigali is becoming an increasingly cosmopolitan city. As new inhabitants settle, local musical tastes evolve. While jazz is arguably one genre that cuts across all cultural and generational divides, the majority of Kigali residents lack information on where to experience good jazz music. Kigali Jazz Junction is a new event that seeks to cater for this kind of audience.
Organized by RG-Consult Inc., a creative and events agency in Rwanda,, in conjunction with Neptunez Entertainment Company, Kigali Jazz Junction will offer jazz fans regular and enriching jazz music from both local and international artists. “Rwanda has always been ready for jazz music, but for a long time, the challenge was 'who plays this music and where?'. Those questions are what Kigali Jazz Junction seeks to resolve,” say the organizers of the event.
The Neptunez Band will be a permanent fixture at the monthly events, which will be staged on the last Friday of every month. With three editions already held in 2015, the first event for 2016 is slated for Friday 29 January at the Kigali Serena Hotel.
Headlining the January edition will be Chilean jazz guitarist Tito al Uribe and The Neptunez Band. Uribe is set to promote jazz in Rwanda, where he has been residing since August 2015. The 61-year-old, who has been a multi-genre solo guitarist, arranger and composer for the last 40 years, says jazz has suffered due to a generation of artists who are “overconfident”, unlike their counterparts from 1970s and 80s.
With the events expected to run over a period of nine months this year, the organizers say the series will culminate in July with an expanded jazz concert to end the first season of Kigali Jazz Junction. The July event will be known as the Jazz Safari and will include invited international artists.
While the organizers are confident about giving Kigali jazz enthusiasts memorable concerts, one of their main worries concerns Rwanda's strict noise pollution regulations, which have seen many live music venues shut down. Provisions on noise pollution are stipulated in Rwanda’s Organic Law N° 04/2005 of 08/04/2005 determining the modalities of protection, conservation and promotion of environment in Rwanda. Article 108 states that anyone who causes noise that may be "harmful to the health of biodiversity" and who "excessively and in an intolerable manner disrupts the neighbourhood and damages property" can be punished by a fine ranging from Rwf 10 000 ($13) to Rwf 100 000 ($134).
For entertainment operators, however, it remains a challenge as the government has not clearly defined what constitutes "excessive" noise. Additionally, while they are required to inform the police about their events in writing, no official communication is usually received by promoters. This poses a further challenge as at times police on duty are not aware of the event, and so end up disrupting planned events.
Nevertheless, the organizers of Kigali Jazz Junction are upbeat about the jazz concert series and hope that they will go a long way in promoting jazz in Rwanda. For more information about Kigali Jazz Junction, visit the event’s Facebook page.