Having made a name for herself as a woman of all seasons, multi-faceted, passionate, and highly regarded creative director, film producer, concert and event curator Afsa Umutesi joined me for a chat for my latest episode of Mugibson Meets, grab a cup of coffee and hang out with us as we discuss all things artist development, making the most of one’s artistic skills, collaboration and more.

On why she takes a bet a great deal on urban artists:

But I think it’s also from. I think even from a young age, I’ve always been very enamored and very intrigued by talented people because I’m, I don’t have like, I’m not going to say I don’t have a talent, but like that tangible talent where like, you can sing and you can dance and all of these things. So I’ve always been very intrigued by that, even from like, my love for TV, like I’ve always been a kid that sat in front of a TV and watch TV the whole day. So maybe it came from that. And then when I started working, I was like, just pushed straight into the creative industry, into music. And also like watching and being able to work with some of the greatest, greatest artists in this in, in the continent just gave me the, the push and the interest to, to just like want to work even with a smaller with a younger artist because you never know that artists that you could be working with, the creative that you could be working with, could be the one that maybe ten, 20 years from now is considered the greatest. Right? So if there’s anything that I can do to contribute to that, I’m very happy to do that.

The artist that she found it easiest to work with:

I don’t know about easy. I think because also I’m very particular depending on like, how I’m working with them, because I work with artists in very different, what how should I call it? They’re very in different ways, basically. So I work with them if I’m booking them for a show, If because I have a creative agency where I do marketing for, for creative projects and stuff like that. Marketing and like rolling out so I work with some of them in that capacity. And then I also do production because I’m also a producer, so I work with them to produce and stuff like that. So it depends. So when you say who has been the easiest to work with, it’s such a wide range of different circumstances and different things to to consider. But but I do enjoy working with all of them for sure. Okay. For sure.

On how artists can add value to their brands and tap into opportunities:

So it depends really, but I think my, my biggest advice is for you to find out what your, what to, to just figure out, like what you have to give because that’s what you’re worth is. Right. So so for example, if like if an artist, maybe a musician is a singer songwriter there’s so much that you can give from just being a singer songwriter. There’s so just you don’t have to just be the, the artist that just sings. Only because if you’re a singer songwriter, it means you also know how to write music, right? Then write music also, like you can write music and sell it to to other people. Okay then you have the ones that can also because I mean, in this day and time as an artist, most of the time you’ll find artists that produce, that write their own music, they produce their own music. So which means you’re also a producer, so do that as well. I think just. Figuring out what your gift is, and then figuring out a way to use to monetize or use that gift would be the best way, because at the end, like even us, I mean, even us entrepreneurs and business people, you’re always trying to find different, different modes of income, different sources of income from maybe the one thing that you do, you just you try and like diversify so that it can be able to bring income from different places.

So for me, that’s always my advice to creatives is figure out what it is if you’re a painter. Okay, fine. You’re going to paint and like these amazing paintings and sell them. But then also you can do commissioned work, right? For other people. You can do murals, you can do you can do you can maybe learn how to do it digitally and sell that online as well. So we’re past the time where you could just do one thing, like be in a box or in a box. I can only be a lawyer, and that’s it. Exactly. So pass the time, especially as a creative, like you’re so blessed to be able to be a creative, because then there’s so many things that you could do with your talent. I mean, a lawyer can only be a lawyer, right? A doctor can only treat people. Yeah, but you, as a creative, like you have so many things that you can use your talent for. So I think I would advise all creatives to just explore that and just be open to so many different ways of making an income because you’ll be like, oh no, like I’m a, I’m, I’m an artist. I sing, okay, fine, but you’re broke.

So find a way of making it work. And when you when you finally do make it work, then you have the choice to be like, you know what I, I have like, I’m doing well enough to just sing. You get and that’s it. But I mean, even Beyonce doesn’t just sing. So, so yes, you’re so right.

Her Pieces of advice to an artist hitting the big stage for the very first time:

First and foremost, I would never advise you to go on a big stage if that’s your first time. Like, don’t do it. Don’t do it to yourself. You’re setting yourself up for failure and it’s going to haunt you because the moment you fail on a stage like that, not only have you failed to show up for people, for them to see you in your truest, most most amazing form. But you’ve also you’ve also messed with yourself because it’s going to mess with your confidence, because you’re going to assume that you can’t do it. But that’s not true. So I wouldn’t even I can’t I’m not even going to give advice on what to do.  I’m just going to tell you, don’t do it. Do not go on a big stage until you’re ready to do it. Because it does. It does set you back in your confidence, in your art and everything, and even the audience as well. It’s more on the negative side than the. It’s much bigger than what you feel that you’re going to gain from performing on that stage. The stage for the very first time as as a junior as anything.

On how to gain confidence as an upcoming performing artist:

I think. I think to prepare for that first and foremost is perform like perform with perform with a band before. That’s if you’re going to perform with a band, if you’re going on the big stage, you might be performing tracks, but still like, just perform a lot more because if you can do it on a smaller stage that you can translate that on a bigger stage, always. So just like keep trying to perform like I get like I say, like on band nights or even just go to like approach the smaller the smaller venues, the smaller venues, but also the smaller platforms. So you are on Xxpressions, AkaDope First Fridays, Boda Stage parties, the smaller ones. So just approach those ones because stage fright is also a thing. So if you can’t stand in front of a hundred, 200, 300 people, what makes you think you’re going to stand in front of 3000 people? Right. So yeah. So I think just just try just keep performing and and then just keep getting, get getting better and just making your craft better.

And I think they will be very accommodative if you ask for an opportunity. The thing is that’s what we’re here for. You get like, I know for a fact that’s why Xpressions started what they do. I know for a fact that’s why we started Akadope. I know even the Boda stage party, like all these other smaller platforms, they do this because they want to put on younger artists. Yeah. The, the, the, the goal is to be able to put on younger artists because again. I as a as a producer of bigger concerts. Yes, I like I personally will endeavor to put on younger artists, but not everyone does that. And I understand because it’s business. But so yeah. So other than other than practicing and performing, I think it’s also very important for you to always have your music ready. If you’re going to do tracks always have like tracks recorded in studio so that they’re clear and they’re good. You get? If you’re going to do live band. Also, even bands these days usually use tracks for that.

She then breaks down for us what preforming tracks are:

It depends on what you want it to be. So it could be the instrumental. Some people put backup vocals in it. So if you see an artist probably maybe like Wizkid and he’s performing without backup vocalists, that’s because they’re in the tracks. So you just so you just record a bunch of things the instruments and the beat and the vocals without your vocals. So which means when you go to perform, it’s just now you’re on top of that, So when you go to perform, you’re just on top of that. Right. So all you need is your voice. So yeah. So record that and then also before you perform. The one thing that I always tell artists before they go on stage is have fun. It’s that’s always for me. That’s always a trick, it is if you have fun on stage, your energy will rub off on the people. Exactly. So just have fun. If you’ve decided to go on the big stage and and you’re ready for it, have a blast. Because my thing is, just think about it in a way that you’ve prepared. There’s nothing else you can do in that moment. All you can do is go give it your all, show up and have fun.

And every time you have fun, it’s going to translate. It will always translate with your audience.

On what aspiring and upcoming artists can learn from Bebe Cool:

So you did mention something about, you know, how Bebe Cool, you know, is really one of your best performers directly, indirectly might have mentioned it. I didn’t say I didn’t. No, I gave him his props. Yes. Because because like coming up before band was popular to do. He’s one of the he was one of the first people. I mean he of course there was like Maurice Kirya and stuff, but he was one of the first people that do his kind of music to do a full live, a full live band performance in Serena. Yeah. And when he was starting to do those, he, he used to rehearse all the time, like he had rehearsal like throughout the week with his band, whether he had a show or not. Okay. And that translates on stage because then you, you get to because you, you get to experience that chemistry between the artist and the band. That practice makes perfect in that they keep talking about. I mean, we’ve been told this from the beginning, practice makes perfect and it’s true and it’s true. So that’s why I’m like, keep on practicing. Those bands that you’re talking about find a band that you feel like you vibe with, you don’t have. That’s the thing. At the end of the day. Also, you don’t have because you’re going to be like, oh, I don’t have money for a band. You don’t have to have your own band. You can have a band and you’re like, okay, I really like the way these guys play. For example, A Pass. I remember when he had just started playing live. He was very he was very attached to Janzi you couldn’t book A Pass if you don’t book Janzi band, because that’s the band that he was comfortable playing with. Yeah. So find that for that, find that for yourself and just create that relationship with a band again, because bands are so open, because they also know that when you get booked, they will be your band of choice to perform with. Exactly, exactly. They’re so open. They’re so open to playing with you. They’re so open to experimenting with with the artists and stuff like that. So so yeah, so always find someone to play with.

What lessons can they then pick from Bebe Cool?

Just rehearse. Like, that’s the thing. Like if you see someone like Bebe Cool, who at that point in his career, he didn’t need to do what he was doing because he is Bebe cool. You get? hether he whether we like he if Bebe cool at that point had told Serena what seats what 1500 people at that point in his career, all Bebe Cool just had to do was say, I have a show in Serena and people would show up, right? But he decided to show up the best that he could. So my advice is, take that, take that. If you’re to take anything from him? Take that from him is show up. And also respect your craft because clearly that’s what he was doing. He respected his craft enough to be like, you know what? I’m going to show up the best that I can in my craft. And, I don’t know, maybe it could or couldn’t have, but I feel like that also, like, elevated his profile a little bit because now. You’re seeing him from the guy that, like, is jumping on stage and doing what? All these things. But now you’re seeing him play live with all these instruments and stuff like that. So it just it does elevate your status. And I’m sure the price went up after that as well. Yeah. Because I think I recently saw him at there was a Best of Kampala edition last year in November. He did so well. Yeah, he was among my best performers of the night. Yeah. Besides the the artist who had come through to perform. Yeah. And then also also at the recent UB 40 show, he really, you know, he was amazing and he, he dazzles whenever he performs which is, which is I think a very big thing. But again, like I said, it’s all attributed to that discipline of rehearsing and respecting your audience and your craft and everything.

On What Her Favorite event to organize has been:

Now, that’s a bit tricky, because I don’t think there’s a show where I’m like, yeah, I did that because also. The job that I do depends a lot on the people around me, so every job that I do is always. My my like, my gratitude and my props always go to the team. It’s really never me because I feel like me. I’m just like the person with things around, but I don’t really do much. You get if you see a great stage. I didn’t put that together. If you see you didn’t come with a light, I carry the lighting. If the sound is great, I wasn’t on the mixer. You get. So it’s not like I don’t have anything where I’m like, you know what, I did that. But I do maybe have shows that like are like a near and dear to my heart.

But for me that is when like the audience, like for me, it’s always because I can’t tell you how many times I’ve like in the during my career, I’ve been like, you know what? I’m done with events. I’m not doing this anymore. This this is it. So then it’s always that last moment when you’re like on stage and then like the maybe the main artist has come on or there’s just this one artist that comes on and you see the audience and the audience is just so happy and they’re so amazed. So those are the ones where I’m like, okay, those are the shows that. That are probably near and dear to my heart. I think the first one was when I still see the Blankets and Wine. It was. We did Afrigo Band. I think it was the first time Afrigo had been put on, like on like a mainstream stage. Okay, so we did a Afrigo, and I had never seen a Afrigo perform live. And I remember that Blankets and Wine, like people brought their mothers, people brought their aunties and stuff like that. And the show was great. But like Afrigo got on stage and you could just see like the happiness and like everyone was bonding. People were like their parents. It was just it was such an amazing experience having the time of their life. You’re having a time of their lives.

And I know for a fact, like there’s so many people’s parents that who’s who’s that who’s for whom that is a core memory. Yeah. Because you could see it on their faces. They were just so happy and so pleased to be there with their kids and stuff like that. So that one is like one of my very first favorites. I think another one, another blankets and wine. Two blankets and wine that I think I will always be. Happy to have been a part of was the one for Oliver Mtukudzi and Micasa. Those were those were also amazing. Oliver Mtukudzi is also another one where, like, people brought their parents like, it was like it was a generational kind of generational entertainment. Like you could see like kids were proud to, like, bring their parents to this, to see this artist that they’ve always wanted to see. And the parents were also, like, proud of them because that is that our parents grew up listening to. So they grew up listening to them. So we grew up listening to them. So it was just like, so that was just an amazing experience. And then I think in terms of like being blown away by performance with Wizkid. So we did the first, not the first, the second after. So he came for Guinness and then we did the one with face TV. The one where he cancelled in 2017. Then he came the next year. Yeah. So I produced that one as well. And. I would like. I mean, everyone is a fan of Wizkid, but like just seeing him on that stage and like his stage presence because I think that’s the first time that I was very that I, I got familiar with people using tracks very well because of course, like there was there’s this stigma in the industry about using tracks. It’s like, oh yeah, it’s like as if you’re cheating. But I when I saw his performance because I knew a lot of his performance was based on tracks, I like his performance. He’s such an amazing performer. He was great on stage. The stage was so big. He was like because of the light. But the stage was so big and the rest of his band was because it was just him and his band. There were no dancers, there were no backup vocalists. It was just him. But. And he’s not a big dude, but he was. But like, he filled up the stage like you could see him. And for me, I think that’s one of my, like, my very core memories, because I remember for that one I didn’t even watch it like I went to the stage after, like during almost at the end. I watched it from the front of house. That’s like the point where, like, all the mixes are. So it’s direct at the stage. Okay. So I could see exactly like, like directly. And it was just it was an amazing experience because I don’t really usually experience concert because I be working like walking, running. But listen, I remember my boss at that time, he was like, just like, come, let’s watch him perform. So we went to that thing and I remember I was like, I was just blown away because he’s he’s he’s super talented. He’s he’s amazing. So yeah. So I think those, those are the ones so far that still, like, have stayed with me for sure. Yeah.

Afsa on her Approach to Event Performer Lineup:

So so for line up, I start, I work backwards. First is the artists, the main like if I’m doing a big concert, for example, is the main artist. So if I’m doing a big concert and I see the main artist. So what I try to do is to book artists that sort of like fit within that artists. Music. Yes. So that’s my first that’s my first train of thought. If that works, then great. Then I’ll go through that. Then I’ll work with that, then I’ll work with that. Then I’ll start seeing. Okay, who can fit within this? Da da da da. Because also because I want. Because now, at that point, I’m trying to create a certain vibe for the event, right? Yes, yes. Then so once I figure that out, then now I’m stuck. Then I start with one. So two things. One, there’s two returns of investment for me. I can’t speak for other producers, but for me, the returns of investment on in booking an artist, one is the entertainment value. I want to know that my question is, when you get on that stage, like, how is the crowd going to react? How is your performance going to be like, is the crowd going to leave there saying, oh my God, that was such a that was such a vibe! Yeah, you get so it’s either that or are you going to sell tickets. So if I put you on my ticket, are the tickets going to sell? So you have to give me either both or one of the two okay. So depending on the so depending on the type of event that it is. So some events I’m like you know what people come for the artists whether I like it or not. So now I’m at that point then I’m only booking for your performance your performance value. So I need to know that when you get on that stage, I don’t even need to, like, put you on the ticket before. I just need to know when you get on that stage you get there, you’re going to leave your all there, and the crowd is going to be like, what was that again? So yeah. So either that or you sell tickets. So those are the two main things that I think about. And then of course I’ll throw in a couple of like upcoming artists, people that I think that would benefit from that stage. Okay. Maybe 1 or 2. But yeah. So I think that’s mostly my train of thought.

Yeah. And I think it actually makes a lot of sense because, like, it can’t make sense getting someone who sings soul music to perform, like, as a headliner for a main, like a main act, who is maybe from amapiano or electronic dance music. I feel like the the dots wouldn’t really make sense.

Also like when you’re doing like even when I’m doing the programming, some, some people will think like, oh, because artists have this thing of thinking that the later you perform, the more important you are. But they don’t realize that sometimes it like because you’ll have artists throwing a fit, they’re like, oh, I’m not performing at that time. I’m like, okay, cool, I can do what you want, but it’s going to work. It’s it’s a disservice to you because if you come because there’s also the fact, like when I’m doing the programming, it’s like because I want to build the show up, okay? I don’t want the show to, like, go like this, because then people get bored, like they get from high energy to high energy, energy, energy.

Then you get like you just mixing it up. So I build up a show. So so. Yeah, so. So maybe I could put you at the beginning if I like, if you’re a soul guy, like at the beginning. But the closer also the closer that people get to the end of the show, the drunker they are. So my advice is always, why do you want to perform to drunk people? Like I’ve never understood it? Because like, I had someone who was actually an urban artist who was saying, oh, you put like young artists when I was still doing blankets. And I actually, I think I had left, but they were just they just decided to think if there was with me and they’re like, oh, you put the upcoming artist at the beginning of the night. So I was like, what time do you want them to perform? He’s like, oh, like at night when the when the crowd is lit. Then I was like, but at night you’re performing to a drunk crowd, like, why is that what you want? Because that crowd at that point they’re drunk, but also they’re waiting for that last artist at that point, even their, their like their concentration and their patience is very low. Yeah. So the only person that’s going to keep that concentration is an artist who is high energy and an artist who maybe the music, they can sing along to, stuff like that.

It might not even it might even be one song that they can sing along to. Yeah, but if that person comes on stage and kills it. Energy person, a high energy person, that’s fine. You get it. So I would actually advise artists don’t go on stage late like I, I if I was an artist manager, I would never want my artist to go on stage late or even. Right. Yeah. Or even right before the, the main artists. Also there’s, look at the artists that are that you’re performing with like listen to like think about like their music or their even their energy, their level, energy levels on stage or even how audiences react to them. Because if you’re the kind of artist who maybe you’re good, but your music is a bit more slow, and then you have I won’t say Chameleone and Bebe Cool cuz those are like very obvious choices. Yeah, but like maybe you have like Fik Fameica. Yeah. You have like Fik Fameica come before like before you the crowd after you is not because like that Fik is going to come and kill them and now they’re tired. So when you’re there, they’re just looking at you like you guy. Yeah. Because they’re using that time to, you know, go get a drink. Go go go go to the washroom, to relax a little bit.

You get. But what you want is to perform before Fik because then they’re still excited because Fik is coming. Yeah. So they’re waiting. They don’t want to go anywhere because it’s like if I go he’s she’s going to finish and he comes, you get? Yeah. So yeah. So that’s my so that’s my I like that’s really my thought process when I’m doing the programming.

It’s really it’s really it’s really like when you like add like the the dots. It really makes a lot of sense because I mean, that’s why they call you The Fixer. I

But. Yeah, but I feel like it, like it’s very intentional. Definitely like the programming, at least for me, I get I will speak for me and the company that I work for that I work with, but it’s like the programming is also very intentional, for sure. I mean, we don’t always get it right because sometimes you’ll think something and then it doesn’t go the way that you want. But we do put a lot of thought into it. Yes, yes.

On Managing Akadope Band:

You do manage Akadope band? Yes I do, first of all, congratulations on all the good work you’re doing. I love, love those guys. We’re trying. But they have been, I think one of the most consistent bands have been there from years before I could understand band music existed. What do you think has been the trick or the hack to to staying like, you know, relevant and over the years.

I think one we understand the audience, our audience.i think what we try not to do is appeal to everyone because then you can’t appeal to everyone, right? That’s true. So what we do is we try to appeal to the audience that appreciates the kind of music that we do the way that we play. So that’s I think that’s been the main thing. And then of course, there is that there’s the of course, the band as well. I know there’s there’s a stigma around saying that you are, you are family at work because you’re like, but but we definitely are like we try to we try to be friends before we’re colleagues, okay? With like, all of us. And I think that also helps us because then, you know you know, that you, you’re playing with people that respect you, the people that appreciate your talent, people that want you to grow as well. Like if you’re doing something, we’re going to support you. We’re going to always work together. So I think that also helps really a lot. And also just intentional growth as well. We we’re just very intentional about, like, growing from, like, who we are, like, from what we are today to like the opportunity. Yes. Oh, right. Yeah. To see that like when you look back and you can see that. Yes. We’ve actually grown. Yeah. There’s been a growth there’s been some kind of growth in the way that we play in the music that we play. Yeah. So I’m saying I think the other thing that has helped us is that we just, we stuck to the DNA of what the platform is about. And that was supporting artists. Of course, we started out where our goal was to support up and coming artists, which we do very well, and we continue to do that was with Academy Stars. Yeah, that was with AkaDope First Fridays, actually. Okay, because AkaDope First Fridays was built to give a platform to young unknown artists. So the goal was that if you have a song with a recorded or not recorded, you come, you rehearse, you the band, and then you perform in front of people. Yeah. Actually what what I did from that was I would get now those performers and then put them on the Blankets and Wine stage. So yeah. So that was the goal. And then but now we’ve grown into not only not only being a platform that supports unknown and young artists, but also the, the, the bigger artists. So that’s why you, you’ll see us backing artists on like all these stages as well, because our goal is that is to make artists look good. So we so we work very hard to make sure that if it’s, if we’re performing with Mike Kayihura or, Chike or if we’re performing with Fik Fameica, or Lagum, or whoever it is that we are performing with, we are very intentional about the way that we do it. So, yeah, I think that also helps, because we know what our vision and goal is, so we stick to that and work towards that. We love each other, we respect each other.

On How Akadope Band was formed:

So, my partner Kemi came up with the idea, so when she came up with the idea, she asked around, and someone introduced her to my other partner; Francis Kasura, who is also the band leader,  the bass guitarist. So, Francis just knew a bunch of guys, brought people together, and that’s how it’s been. I mean, Most of the band members, are people we have been with from the beginning, even the ones like don’t play with us consistently are still part of the band, we still consider them part of the band, so when we have something big that we think they’d benefit from, we do include them. Again for most of them, it is because they’ve grown into maybe like solo careers, professional careers, but again, if you are part of Akadope, you’ll always be a part of Akadope, if you’ve played with Akadope, you’ll always be Akadope, if we’ve backed you up as Akadope, you are always welcome, for us to play with you, for us to support you in any way that we can.

On Collaboration:

Collaboration is very important, I keep saying, I’ll die on this hill that collaboration is the way out for artists. It’s not my saying, Issa Rae actually said it, “you shouldn’t aim to network up, network across”, and that’s what collaboration is, you need to stop looking for high people, to put you on, the truth is, those people are putting their friends on, so as much as you would want, people these days like to say, ah ‘gatekeepers’, like which gates are they keeping? We are passed the time when, I mean, Bebe Cool and Chamaleone could cry gatekeepers, cuz at their time, they didn’t have any resources at the fingertips, you get like? at their time, for people to get to hear your music, it had to be played on radio but now you have so much more control than they had. Not to say there are no people that are gate keeping, I feel like you can get passed it, they are really not gate keeping. I think collaboration is what gets you over that. When you work together, when you come as all these creatives, you are working together, you are creating together, you are a force, you are going to knock that gate down. You get? You are a force. The thing is, let’s stop thinking of all the obstacles that are there, like “People won’t book us for events”, it’s not that they don’t want to book you, again, it is a business, if you are not making people money, they won’t book you, they have no reason to book you, make yourself so inevitable/, so investable in that they have no choice but to book you, you get? and if not, create your own platforms. That’s why platforms like Xpressions are for, that’s why we created Akadope because even I who had access to all these big stages, I had all these artists coming to me, like “Oh can I play at Blankets and Wine”, it’s not that I don’t want, but you need to start from somewhere. And if Blankets and Wine is not trying to book you, create your own platforms, you get? Work with your fellow colleagues. If you are an artist for example, you know some of your friends who are doing events, club nights, and if you support them, they’ll support you right back. If you are force to be reckoned with, like if you like have marketed your music, if you’ve worked with your friends to talk about your music, you’ve supported your friend’s events, if your friend’s events you are supporting is big enough, Tusker is going to stop giving money to Blankets and Wine and give it to you, because those people are getting old, you are the crowd that they are looking for, so create a product that they have no choice but to buy, create demand for that product that you are trying to sell. It doesn’t matter if you are an artist, a designer, if you are a painter, at the end of the day, we are all trying to sell a product. The question is, have you created enough demand for that product or service? Which goes back to my other song that I keep singing, build your communities, build your fan bases, because those are the people who are going to create demand for your product you are selling, and if there’s demand for a product that you are selling, they are going to buy it. They can’t avoid it, it is by force. So, that guy you are saying is keeping the gate, they are not going to keep the gate any more. The keys are going to be taken from them. So, yeah, I am very big on collaboration. Let us also be very clear on what collaboration is. Let us not now start using our friends, claiming collaborations. Because collaboration is, you give me something, I give you something. Let me say, you tryna do a music video.  have this program I have been building for a while where I would get an artist, I surround them with different creatives, I’ll do a designer, a makeup artist, a stylist, a photographer, a videographer, they’ll work together to create content for and around that artist. Now what they are getting from it is, all the footage that comes out of it, everyone is given whatever they need from it. The artist has to make sure they credit everyone on every single post that they use, everyone that worked on that project is credited. If the makeup artist wants something from you, like, hey can I get that video, I’ll send it to them with no logos, nothing because they played a part in it happening, and also how that helps them is that she has a reel, because, if say, she wants to do let me say, Winnie Nwagi’s make up next time, she can be like “hey, this what I do”, the stylist as well, she’s able to be like “hey, I styled this shoot, cam I style your shoot?, the videographer as well is able to be like, “I shot that”. I did the same, I did something like that for one of Tucker HD’’s videos as well and PRNZ was the person that shot that and now is doing big things, right? So, again, you are able to get that and be like “hey, this is what I shot, I can shoot this for you, as well.” Now that’s collaboration because they are getting something out of it. Now for you if you just want things for free, and then you get the video and put it on your YouTube and then you walk away, now what happens? You get? Or you are not trying maybe not to make  your Instagram look weird because you don’t want to credit everyone. So, if you are going to collaborate, let it be an actual collaboration and beneficial to both of you. Don’t just ask people to work with you and you assume it is a collaboration, there has to be a give and take at the end of the day.

On how she juggled school and work, and tips to those who are in similar situations:

I don’t even know, cuz I cannot say I balanced school and work, the only reason I managed was because of my supervisor at the time. His name was Paul Kaheru. I remember Paul told me Afsa, I know you are not st*pid, so, if you fail at school, “I am going to fire you, because the only reason you are failing at school is because you are working, which means the job is the reason you are failing and you are not going to fail, on my watch”, so you better pass, so, every semester he would be like; “anha, any retakes?” I’m like no, and he is like “okay, you are safe”. Maybe find someone to threaten you as well. But no, I think it is also just like, I was doing evening classes, so I think that helped a lot, and also the people I worked for were very understanding about me being in school and also they were very supportive, say if I had an exam, Paul made a thing where a week or two before my exams, I didn’t come to work or I worked from home. The thing is, a lot of my career is based off luck, to experience good people, I’ve had a good experience working with amazing people. Maybe that also helped. So, maybe I may not be the best person to advise on how to balance. But I think, also, just decide, man, what’s the most important thing for you> is it the work? Or the school? Though sometimes you may need the job to fund the education, which again is something I didn’t I didn’t need, so again, I’m not really the right person to advise on that cuz I worked cuz I wanted to, not because of need. So, I think a person who has worked because of a need to work would be a better person to advise on that. `Also communication. I do believe if you communicated to the people you work with and explained to them your situation and be like “hey, I am here because first of all, yes, I do want like to work but also I have school”, I remember even with me, what I would do at the beginning of the semester, I would let Paul know “hey, on these and these days, I am not available after 4PM’. So, good communication is key, when working with people or even for yourself. So, I always communicated to my employers. I always communicated first of all my schedule, my classes, my exams ahead of time, and then also told them in case I needed time off,  if I needed to do some things. Be honest, and then communicate. Again, I will emphasize I’ve always been lucky to have good employers, so, they’ve always understood and supported in whatever way that I needed.

On the Future of events:

That’s interesting. I mean, the online concerts were great, it’s quite unfortunate we didn’t find a way to incorporate that in today’s events but I guess maybe the human need for connection was much bigger. I think really the future of events is smaller events, like there’s bigger concerts and those are great but I think we might be going into a place where people now have their own tastes. So, mass events, the mainstream mass events are going to be there, they’ll always be there, but they are going to be less. So, I think the future of events is really targeted/niched, everyone has their own taste, everyone has what they like, there are people who want like a party, they wanna rave, there are people who want a small concert, there are people who want a small acoustic live thing, specific genres, so we are no longer a follow-the-leader kind of audience, we are more, this is what I like and when I see what I like, I’ll go for what I like. So, I think that’s always good.

Afsa on if she weren’t an events producer, what career path she would take:

I think I have been blessed to be that. I think I would still be that, maybe in a different capacity. I was actually telling my partners at Malembe the other day, right now I am a concert produce, so I just produce the entire concert, but I think in a perfect world, I would probably be a broadcast producer. So, you see like at The GRAMMYs, there’s always the guy at the back who’s saying like okay “move the camera at the back” , do this, the sound, the music, run this effect, in the perfect world, I think in a perfect world, that’s what I would be because I am a very introverted person, so I prefer to work by myself, and not with like so many people, the life chose me, I didn’t choose it, so, here we are.

The Worst Pronunciation of her name:

I have heard every single pronunciation, I have had cutting down letters (I don’t understand how somene woulc cut down a four-letter name), letters added, I have had AFSWA, HASFWA, KASFWA, so many pronunciations. I think for me the funniest thing, being in a male dominated industry and this happened recently, there was a guy who I was working with for something, he kept calling me something on the phone but I couldn’t understand what it was, I just knew it wasn’t the right pronunciation, and then when he gave me a receipt after I paid him, I saw that he had written Mrs. Keith on the receipt. I realized he was calling me one of my Malembe partners’ names. In all my years, that is definitely the worst that had happened. He didn’t even bother to learn my name, he just called me a whole other person’s name.

Be sure to catch this chat on my YouTube Channel, and podcast. Do give Afsa a follow across her socials to check out some of the amazing work she’s doing for the creative industry. Cheers!