There was mayhem at the Harare International Airport Friday afternoon after Jamaican dancehall king, Sean Paul touched down aboard a British Airways plane as hordes of fans breached the security cordons and scrambled to touch the mega star.
“Akuuya! Akuuya! (He’s coming! He’s coming!),” a fan cried out as Sean Paul approached the terminal exit.
As soon as he stepped out, the screaming fans pounced on the unsuspecting star who was surrounded by four bodyguards.
The international superstar had to be practically thrown into a Quantum (Kombi) which was closest before being whisked away to a local hotel where he was booked together with Akon who arrived on Thursday.
Sean Paul arrived at the Harare International Airport at 2pm but could only be let out of the VIP lounge at 3:20pm when his entourage of about 15 people (including his dancers) and luggage were safely allocated vehicles parked at the entrance of the departure bay.
Meanwhile, police in Harare said yesterday they had put in place watertight security measures ahead of the Akon and Sean Paul concert at the giant Harare National Sports Stadium tonight.
Police spokesperson James Sabau yesterday assured Akon – real name Alliuane Badara Thiam – and Sean Paul’s fans that logistics were in place and the police were prepared for the big show.
“Right from the beginning, even before their arrival, we had activated our security system and everything was well in place before their arrival. During their stay, and even on their departure, everything will be in order,” Sabau said.
“We will never be found wanting because our security system is water-tight,” he said. A book makers’ dream, tonight’s show, has been described as one of the greatest ever musical concerts to be staged on Zimbabwean soil.
In anticipation of record-breaking attendance, the organisers, Zimswag, settled for the giant stadium to accommodate the two musical stars’ fans, some of whom are expected to travel from as far as South Africa and Botswana.
Sean Paul – real name Ryan Francis Henriques – promised not to let the crowd down.
The show is set to find a place in the country’s entertainment attendance record, beginning with Bob Marley’s 1980 independence concert that saw 100 000 people filling Rufaro Stadium.
In 1981, South African pop band Harari had a gig at the same venue, with an attendance of 42 000 people.
Another huge crowd puller was the Reggae Sunsplash featuring Jamaican Reggae stars, Joseph Hill of the group Culture, Ijahman Levi and Eric Donaldson.
These are the biggest crowds to date for any musical concert ever held in Zimbabwe, matched closely by Reggae superstar Gregory Isaacs, who performed at Rufaro in 1988 to an audience of 40 000, among other shows.
NewsDay established that the cheapest tickets – which were valued at $25 – had long sold out. The most expensive ticket, for the Golden Circle, is going for $100.
Zimswag, which partnered Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, embarked on an intensive marketing and advertising drive that probably has no precedence in this country.