Sh35 million up in smoke? How Morgan Heritage's fiesta flopped

Alaine, Jboog and Peter Morgan [Photo: Courtesy]

The cancellation of the first press conference at Sarova Stanley on Friday was the first sign. Something was afoot. A big problem lay ahead.

As the Pulser team hurriedly left the office to keep the 2.30pm time for the press conference, a text message came.

The meeting had been rescheduled for 8pm. The explanation from the events’ organisers was that Diamond had missed his flight and, therefore, the rest of the artistes had to wait for him.

At the time, Yemi Alade, Alaine, Stonebwoy, Chameleone and other stars from across Africa had already been booked in at Sarova Stanley hotel. With the presser got cancelled, Chameleone chose to hang out with the Pulse crew.

This was the Tomorrow’s Leaders event starting to crumble, well, at least in the eyes of those who had not been privy to the behind-the-scenes drama that had ensued the previous two days.

Grammy Award-winning reggae group Morgan Heritage, the brains behind the bonanza had trusted one of their own, Mojo, to head the logistics of the show.

Peter Morgan(second left) greeting his fans during Tomorrow Leaders Festival at Kasarani [Photo: Edward Kiplimo]

He had been in Nairobi two months meeting would-be partners and sponsors. Basically, he was in-charge of all operations under the Morgan Heritage Foundation tag.

From the big events security gurus like Pascal and his company, media liaison teams, ticketing firms, sound providers and club owners, he had engaged them all.

Top Kenyan artistes among them Naiboi, JuaCali, Wyre and Femi One had been brought aboard.

Gramps, one of the other Morgan brothers was in-charge of identifying international artistes for the event that was meant to raise funds for youth leadership programmes across Africa and Jamaica.

Benefactors were to include Save the Children, Unicef, UNESCO, UNODC, Oxfam International, Shofco and Joy Divine.

Big names were the order of the show: Talia Oyando, MC Philipo and Buddha Blaze were to be the MCs while DJs Kriss Darlin, Kalonje, Splackavelli, Stano and Muzikal Sheriff, Double Trouble, Slim 254 and Edu were to man the decks. Jeff Koinange and Ajuma Nasenyana the hosts.

What a line-up!

Pulse can confirm that some of these names had pulled out before the dark Saturday just as had many suppliers and partners, such as Tamarind Group and Parrot, due to unforeseen financial challenges.

A pre-party slated at B-Club on Friday night was cancelled. The main event, which was supposed to start at midday on Saturday never kicked off. Not even one supplier was on site.

The VIP, VVIP and VVVIP sections looked like a market place.

Wyre and Alaine on stage [Photo: Felix Kavii]

At 9pm that Saturday night, the important people who had paid up to Sh15,000 for a ticket were soaking in the rain and would only find solace at the bar, one that also looked like a makeshift house and whose owner kept switching his generator going on and off. Drinks were in short supply.

At about 11.30pm, a group hurriedly erected a tent at the VIP section for a few guests. Another one lay down and only came up at 2am. No one ever went into it.

All this time, there had been a tussle between the artistes and suppliers on one side, versus the Morgan Heritage team on the other. Most of the financial dealings were pending.

Some of the partners who had pledged to give money had pulled out in the eleventh hour leaving Morgan Heritage an abandoned team. The brothers were in pain, watching helplessly as a dream came crumbling down.

“There had been many sponsors. But something went pretty wrong starting on Thursday. Suppliers could not be paid. Many pulled out.

There was also an issue with artistes, most of whom had yet to be sorted. Many decided to stay back in their hotel rooms,” a source close to the organisers told Pulse.

Since Diamond and Yemi Alade jetted in, only few realised they were in the country. At 2am on the day of the show, to the heartbreak of their fans, it was announced that neither of them would perform.They were ‘sick’.

Yemi Alade and Diamond Platnumz [Photo: Courtesy]

Hours later, Diamond and his team were at Gossip Club partying hard… and launching his new song.

“The truth is that Morgan Heritage are counting losses and I think they have themselves to blame. They decided to run the show even after events’ organisers here offered to assist. Who runs an event alone in a foreign country?” another source posed.

“For starters, they had decided to take the event to Kasarani hoping that Buju Banton, who had earlier been slotted for the event, would come and fill the stadium. But Buju was never to show up, neither would Sauti Sol. Besides, who would pay Buju Banton Sh25 million for a performance fee? The fee charged by Kasarani management, sources indicate was Sh2.4 million down from a possible, if not ordinary Sh4 million, venue booking fee.   

The exorbitant entrance regular fee of Sh3,000 was also a far-fetched dream for a reggae crowd. At 11pm on Saturday, it was lowered to Sh2,000. At 1pm, it went to Sh1,000. Still, it was smoke, trouble… a total mess.

Sources told Pulse that even the artistes who performed are yet to be paid. According to the source, the communication sent is that they would likely be paid today. Many other bills are pending unpaid.

On Monday night, there was a social media scare that Morgan Heritage were planning to flee the country the following day following the flopped gig.

The alarming post hyped by social media influencer Xtian Dela alleged that Stonebwoy had been kicked out of his hotel and that Yemi Alade was locked in her hotel room because of bills (see inset, her complaint). It claimed no Kenyan artiste had been paid.

“We also do events and know how complex some events might be. The last thing @morganheritage should do is run away from Kenya without paying people or working out a pay plan for all the parties involved,” Xtian charged.

Revelers enjoying their moments during Tomorrow Leaders Festival [Photo: Edward Kiplimo]

However, the Morgan Heritage team responded by refuting the claims as they assured all parties all would be well.

As the heat festered on Twitter, Jamaican singer Alaine took to her social media pages to apologise to her fans after her 4am (Sunday morning) performance was cut short.

“Kenya, I really love you. The support and love I have received from you over my career has been priceless. I prepared to sing for longer tonight, but my show was cut short. Sigh, really hope to be able to take my time, free from sound issues and just really hold vibes with you” she wrote.

She posted on Instagram that this was by far her worst Nairobi trip before assuring her followers that she still loves the country.

Alaine had been flown from Paris for the three minutes with her own band for a cost of about Sh1.8 million. 


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