A much-anticipated mega concert featuring Benga music maestro Evans Ochieng Owino, widely known as Prince Indah, slated for Saturday, September 16, in Kisumu, is on the brink of cancellation as the Kisumu Bar Owners Association considers taking legal action to halt the event.
The association alleges that the event’s organizers, with the support of the Kisumu County Government, have breached a previously signed agreement, which has left them feeling shortchanged.
According to Mr. Daniel Maneno Ouma, the Chairperson of the Kisumu Bar and Club Owners Association, and Mr. Bob Evans Andala, the Secretary-General, they had reached an agreement to host the concert, primarily focusing on alcohol sales during the event. Prince Indah was to receive gate collections and contribute to the event’s security.
As per the agreement, the association had secured and paid for the venue at Mamboleo grounds, managed by the Agricultural Society of Kenya (ASK), where the Jomo Kenyatta International Stadium is located. This agreement was formalized in a letter dated June 27, 2023.
In this letter, the parties had committed to paying the necessary levies and adhering to all regulations governing the use of the stadium and society premises. They also pledged to provide adequate security personnel for the event.
A subsequent letter from ASK, dated August 7, 2023, and signed by Ms. Rose Sharon, the ASK Kisumu branch Manager, confirmed that the bar and club owners had made a payment of Sh116,000 to secure the grounds for the live event scheduled for September 16, 2023.
However, the association was shocked to discover a change of plans just a week ago when they received a letter approving a different festival—a talent search—to take place on the same day.
This abrupt alteration of plans has triggered frustration within the association.
They feel that they are being treated unfairly, especially as the organizers appear to intend to bring in a partner from Nairobi to handle the sale of alcoholic beverages.
“We had a deal in place since June, and we are businesspeople who invested funds based on clear income projections. We are left wondering why someone is trying to sabotage us at the last minute,” expressed Mr. Ouma, the Chairman of the association.
The bar owners are now calling on the event organizers to honor their original agreement or face the possibility of legal action.
Mr. Andala, the Secretary-General, declared, “If the organizers and the county government fail to fulfill their end of the bargain, we will utilize the grounds for alternative purposes since we are the ones who had initially booked it.”
This dispute has also highlighted an ongoing conflict regarding the authority responsible for authorizing the use of the grounds—whether it is the Kisumu City Council or ASK.
Mr. Pius Omudho, Prince Indah’s manager, revealed that they did not reach an agreement with the bar owners on certain aspects of organizing the event. Disagreements arose, particularly concerning the association’s role in setting up the entire stadium, including the stage and shelter tents.
“Since we were unable to reach a consensus with the bar owners on certain issues, we decided to organize the event independently. We met all the necessary requirements, including the payment for the grounds, which was made to the Kisumu County Government, not ASK,” explained Mr. Omudho.
He emphasized their intention to proceed with the event as planned.
Nevertheless, ASK expressed concern, asserting that they were only aware of the booking made by the Bar and Club Owners Association. They issued a warning, suggesting that they might close the venue if they suspect any foul play on the part of the organizers.
Mr. George Ong’udi, Chairman of Kisumu ASK Showground, reaffirmed ASK’s exclusive authority for authorizing the use of the grounds, not the Kisumu County Government.
He cautioned, “We are aware of the association that booked the stadium grounds, and unless they change their minds, they have the rights to the grounds. They have not communicated any emerging issues to us. Should we detect any mischief, we will close the grounds altogether.”