I hate to sound like I’m always complaining about one thing or the other: I really don’t want to be ‘that’ guy but I really can’t help it. There is always something that draws my ire. This time its last week’s Mutzig Beerfest and the Blackberry blackout. Let me begin with the Bralirwa event.

The ‘Beerfest’ is a yearly event that Mutzig sponsors; one pays six thousand francs and in return you are promised as much beer as you can drink and a barbeque dinner. Having attended last year’s event and had a good time I was eager to repeat the experience. Trudging up to Juru Park I was welcomed by smiling attendants and well-armed policemen and women. After collecting a mug I walked to the first beer stall and what I saw wiped the smile off my face. At each and every beer booth I saw a heaving mass of humanity, driven mad by thirst. While I might be exaggerating a little bit, I’m not by that much.

There were winding lines of impatient customers and the beer servers looked extremely harassed as they were harangued by all and sundry. And while I sympathized with the servers manning the beer kegs, the Beerfest customers had every right to be angry. The event was poorly organized and it seemed as if the Bralirwa organizers were ambushed by the numbers. Except they obviously weren’t; they should have known that they would be dealing with thousands of people simply by counting how many tickets they sold. If they had done their planning well, they would have erected more beer tents to deal with the thousands and there would have been more toilets. Instead fights began breaking out at the beer tents and people started relieving themselves in the tall grass. It was disastrous.

But what’s really got my goat was the fact that Bralirwa (and the Mutzig brand people) haven’t made an official statement explaining the fiasco. I believe that we, the customers, should get an apology. People paid their hard-earned money expecting one thing and instead got something totally different. That is something akin breach of contract.

I’m however not holding my breath. It’s become something of a culture here to expect people to ‘ihangane’ (bear with it). I have no idea when this culture shall change. At least, MTN acted differently during the Blackberry server issues. They sent everyone on their network SMS’s apologizing for the blackout and I commend them for that. But is a mere apology enough? I think not. MTN customers pay a monthly fee of Rwf 20,000 for Blackberry Internet services and heaven help you if you forget to renew your monthly subscription, your services are cut off immediately. And that is the way it is supposed to be. I’m of the opinion that if there is an issue emanating for the service providers side then they should bear the responsibility to compensate the customer. Apologies aren’t enough. How about giving each and every Blackberry service subscriber additional airtime? MTN can certainly afford it and as a public relations gesture, it would be certainly welcome.

I might sound like a grumpy old man, but for too long I’ve felt underappreciated and taken for granted. And it’s the biggest corporations in the country who’ve disappointed me the most, despite the fact that they have huge resources. All I know is that I will not go to next year’s edition of the Beerfest unless there is some kind of reassurance that this year’s debacle will not ensure yet again.



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