Zimbabwe is a beautiful place - Akon

SENGALESE-born R&B superstar Akon has said there have been a lot of misconceptions about Africa in many parts of the world.

The American singer, who jetted into Harare on Thursday afternoon for a show yesterday alongside dancehall maestro Sean Paul, told journalists that the continent had often been projected as underdeveloped and backward.

“I think there have been a lot of misconceptions, too, in a lot of places in Africa. But when you land in these places you never really see what they are talking about,” he said at a press briefing.

“You never get to see the misconceptions that are as far as the place being underdeveloped.”

He said, as he arrived in central Harare, he struggled to see the bad things that had been said about Zimbabwe in the Western world.

“As far as I can see akon and I haven’t seen anything that contradicted the positive things that I have heard before,” he said.
Akon said African people were mostly the same everywhere, despite their situations.

“Everywhere in Africa that I have been, pretty much has always been the same. It feels like you are in the same place. Everyone has the same energy. All the people have been extremely humble. Even in the areas that have seen a lot of conflict, when I get there, I don’t feel it,” he said.

He paid tribute to thousands of fans, who earlier thronged Harare International Airport and his hotel in down-town Harare.

He promised to give them a show of their “lifetime.”
“We are very excited. This is an incredible moment for us. We have been trying to get to Zimbabwe for a long, long time. We always end up bumping heads with unreal promoters.

Sometimes you hear that Akon is coming but we never knew that we are coming. It is really funny because Africans, we are like that, we are the ultimate hustlers. This time it was real. A call came from Zimbabwe and it was a real call with some real people doing some real business,” he said.

Hundreds of his fans besieged the airport, although most of them could not even see him due to tight security.

He was sneaked out of the airport through a back entrance and was driven away from roaring fans in a top-range Rolls Royce Phantom.
He was immediately driven to one of the oldest, notorious and densely populated township of Mbare.

His 20-strong entourage followed behind in stretch limousines.
As the kilometre-long convoy got into the city centre, several people lined the streets, waving at him and calling his name while he peeped through the sun-roof.

At the hotel, there was a near-stampede as his fans jostled to catch a glimpse of him. But security personnel whisked him to his room on the 10th floor of Meikles Hotel, where he later emerged on the balcony and waved at the multitudes below.

The show promises to be one of the best, if not the best, according to organisers - Zimswag.

Analysts say it should be bigger than the 1980 Independence concert where reggae legend Bob Marley performed, and even the 1988 Human Rights concert when Zimbabwe hosted Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Sting, Peter Gabriel, Tracy Chapman and Youssou N’Dour.

Zimswag also say the show should surpass other shows that have seen American R&B stars Joe Thomas, Tevin Campbell and Horace Brown as well as reggae maestros Luciano, Maxi Priest and Sizzla Kalonji performing in recent months.
It should be so, owing to the amount of preparation that have gone into the show both in terms of logistics and hospitality.

Akon travelled with his private chef, and his 20-member entourage say they’ll not want to eat anything other than fresh baked fried/grilled fish, roast beef, chicken mix of white or dark meat, roast turkey, spaghetti or lasagne, baked macaroni and cheese, fresh steamed vegetables, fresh maize, greens, spinach and rice.

For the dressing room hospitality backstage yesterday, Akon and his band members had requested bottled water, half of which must be chilled and the other half at room temperature, top-end liquor, Hennessy, which is a firm favourite of American celebrities.

Organisers had to ensure there was fresh juice and “10 pounds of sweet juicy carrot plus four stalks of celery” for Akon.
He also wanted to be served with Red Bull energy drink and various Coca-Cola products during the show.

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