Dan Chizi Aceda – the Crown Prince of Benga is one of Kenya’s rising music sensation and he recently became the first Kenyan artist to perform the Lake of Stars Festival in Malawi; one of top Africa’s must do music festivals. Here is his personal tour encounter.
……….when I found out that my application to the Lake of Stars festival had been successful and that for the first time in my career I would be going to play share the stage with Freshlyground and The Foals, I was elated. I drafted a set list and
started making calls to my band to tell them the news. This was the biggest gig of my career but I would have to cater for all of our travel and accommodation expenses. Lake of Stars being a non-profit festival this is the norm, you have to get yourself to the gig the first time and if you have a big impact then they will bring you back under better terms.
I had no idea how to raise this money and how to justify the ROI to any potential investors. I approached a lot of corporate with all types of proposals but all were either already into other gigs or unwilling to listen. The flights to Lilongwe were filled up, we had lost our reservation at Ethiopian Air due to non- payment and now the only option was Kenya Airways which was double the price. The timing was close nobody had opened up yet, but determined, I kept knocking on doors.
PERMANENT PRESIDENTIAL MUSIC COMMISSION OF KENYA
One of the doors I knocked on was the Government of Kenya – The Permanent Presidential Music Commission. There we met a gentleman called Mr Thuku who is the director. Surprisingly, they offered their support and said there was no way I would go to Malawi as the first Kenyan to play at the Lake of Stars Festival without Government support. I was overwhelmed by their reception. The Presidential Music Commission of Kenya offered to support a percentage of the transportation part of the budget.
I also received support from the Goethe Institut, Nairobi who helped with food and accommodation. It was quite late so I reworked budgets to travel by road to Malawi and back as well as reducing the band. It wasn’t going to be pretty but going was all that mattered.
Determined not to miss the festival, I took my sax player Jack Anduuru and we took the 6.30am Friday morning bus determined to play on Sunday evening. We arrived in Dar es Salaam the same day where we spent the night before taking on another bus to Mbeya on the border of Malawi. We arrived in Malawi Saturday night but couldn’t reach the festival in right time because of no buses. It was a long ride and we found out that Chips and Meat can save this part of the world.
When we finally arrived at Nkopola Lodge in Malawi where The Lake of Stars Festival we had missed our Sunday 7pm performance slot. Luckily the director Will Jameson had personally kept in touch with my manager Buddha Blaze as we made our way across Malawi and had made arrangements for a stand by performance upon our arrival at the final festival party. Essentially we would be the final act at the festival! The show was brilliant. It went so well that there and then the decision was made that we must come back in 2012 to play and you know what, I will be ready for that one.
Malawi is a beautiful warm country and they gave us great reception as a Kenyan band. Lake Malawi is an amazing water source and it is amazing how Lake of stars Festival has turned into a tourist attraction. I recommend that everyone visits Malawi and the festival at least once in their life time. I want to thank Mr. Rufus Thuku and the good people at the Presidential Music Commission of Kenya for their superb and noble support. I would also like to thank Mr. Johannes Hossfeld at the Goethe Institut. I look forward to working with you very soon. Thanks to Mr. Will Jameson for inviting us to the Lake of Stars Festival and more importantly my fans who keep me doing even better music.