Despite having toured the world already several times, the Congolese bands Kasaï Allstars and Konono N° 1 have been refused visas by several European countries, so disrupting a number of major festivals and bringing their agent to the brink of bankruptcy. The group first had problem renewing their passports in Congo, and were then sent on a labyrinthine chase for visas and paperwork from the French, Belgian and UK embassies (where they were to play). At the end of the day, these proved unsuccessful and the tours have been cancelled – over 25 dates in all.
It’s hard to understand how bands that have already toured in Europe should be kept out like this. They are performing musicians, contribute to European taxes, are signed to European labels and keep families fed at home. The Congolese authorities also have a lot to answer for.
Meanwhile, the agent that has been promoting them tirelessly over the past few years is faced with non-refundable airline tickets of €18,000.
Other performers routinely suffer similar problems. The Nigerian singer Seun Kuti had to cancel a promotional tour in April as the Slovakian authorities were too slow in approving the Schengen visa. The cruel irony is that he was not even slated to visit the country.