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Why Madaraka Festival In The US Has Been Postponed

Speculation surrounding Nyashinsky’s (a US citizen) team visa issues was that the organizers did not want him to travel with his entire band.

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By John Muchiri

The much anticipated Madaraka Festival, that was set to kick off in the US this weekend, has been postponed.

Anxiety surrounding the festival started a couple of days ago when lead act, Kenya’s Nyashinsky, announced that due to his team members’ visa delay, he would not be performing at the festival.

Today, Kenya’s Savara has cited the same visa issues and the Festival has officially been postponed by the organizers.

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Speaking exclusively to this page after the postponement announcement, organizer Simon Javan Okello has set the record straight on why they have resorted to that decision.

“It’s not easy to make such a decision,” says Okello. “But we have made a unanimous decision, as the organizers, the artists and our event producers, Live Nation, and other partners, to postpone the event. It’s better to postpone than to deliver a half baked festival.”

Okello clarifies that the visas have not been denied, but just delayed.

“Once the visas are out, new dates will be announced, so fans should not be worried,” says Okello. “In fact, we might have additional artists on the lineup.”

Speculation surrounding Nyashinsky’s (a US citizen) team visa issues was that the organizers did not want him to travel with his entire band.

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“Nyashinsky was meant to travel with only one band member, who is his music director,” clarifies Okello. “All the artists were supposed to perform with our US-based band, One Vibe, which was in all the agreements. Nyashinky has a seven-man team. Other than the music director, he has a manager, photographer and social media handler, among other people managing his career.”

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But Savara has been in the US several times in the past one year?

“In fact, we are the ones who brought Savara and SautiSol last year to the US,” Okello says. “The issue is, we do things by the book. For an artist to perform here, he needs a P1 visa for performing artists, which includes a work permit and is only valid for one year. You cannot renew that. We had to get a new one for Savara, which has not been denied, but delayed. We hope it will come out soon and we will announce new dates.”

According to Okello, who has organized Madaraka Festival for 10 years now, every year has new lessons.

“Our event is the biggest East African festival in the Western world, but we have gone beyond that,” he says. “We are attracting more non East African people every year. Last year’s festival had about 25,000 people in attendance, and this year’s multiple city events was targeting up to 150,000 music fans from different parts of the world. That’s why we have Live Nation on board, who are the best in the game and have venues all over the world.”

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He says the biggest lesson with this postponement is knowing who is on their side and who is not.

“This makes us plan our teams and partners better, to ensure that we give the best experience to our fans in future.”

They will announce the new dates once everything is set.

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