Freetown, Baby!

Akon-mania by mabrajeux
May 7, 2010, 1:23 pm
Filed under: entertainment | Tags: ,

Last week, Sierra Leone celebrated its 49th Independence anniversary and along with the more traditional celebrations, another treat was announced: a concert at the National Stadium by none other than Akon!

He might be familiar to some, but in West Africa he is one of the biggest stars there is, the epitome of the local guy making it big, even though he was born and at least partly raised in the US. The event was organised (and sponsored) by another West Africa and Salone expat, Gibril Wilson, as US football player who was born in Freetown. (more details on the organisation of the concert here)

So the gig was scheduled on the evening of Independence Day, the 27th April, tickets had gone on sale the day before with what seemed like little complications in salone terms and everyone was gearing for an evening of RnB beats and sweaty dancing… And then it started raining. Not just any little rain, but a proper storm, complete with downpour, lightning, wind and power cut…

A few hours later, there were talks to hold the gig at 3 or 4am. Had it not been for the rain it would probably have happened but eventually it was all called off until the next day… 2pm. So we reconvened the next day at 4pm, and despite being a midweek afternoon, the stadium was pretty full, with a mass of people in the pit pushing towards the central stage.

Eventually the first song started to huge applause and cheering, only to be cut off after a minute or so: not enough power. In Salone, power cuts are not uncommon and people have learnt to just keep going through any sudden spell of darkness, but ‘not enough power’ doesn’t happen that often…

A few generators later and the music started again, only to be stopped after another minute: the crowd had stepped over the cables and cut off the power. The police having tried and failed to control the heaving crowd, Akon took his mike and proceeded to part the red sea: a small explanation and a movement of the hand and the crowd dutifully moved back, as if hypnotised.

This was probably the long and short of any crowd control that day. The rest of the concert didn’t go quite that smoothly, the music cut off a few more times, spectators climbed onto the stage and Akon reprimanded the police for using their batons before reprimanding them for not keeping the crowd back properly…

And then, after an hour or so and before we could figure out how on earth he would leave the stage in one piece Akon somehow managed to make it out of the central stage and he was gone…


1 Comment so far
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Hey love your blog Marie Aimee. Keep me posted. Akima. I can identify with Akon mania when I went to Ghana.

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