Rigging in Rwanda

ES:ME Entertainment Services’ Alex Wuerfel embarks on an inspiring trip to Rwanda to conduct training and lend his knowledge and support for AV Alliance partner, Rwanda Events Group.

While live events tend to take a backseat during summer in the Middle East, the quiet period provides a valuable opportunity to pursue training and travel that the busy events season often leaves little time for. This summer, ES:ME Entertainment Services CEO, Alex Wuerfel used the time to embark on a trip to Africa to provide training support for one of the company’s AV Alliance partners, Rwanda Events. 

The idea for the trip came about after an AV Alliance gathering in Dubai where Wuerfel met Rwanda Events CEO, Christian Gakwaya and discovered that there were ample opportunities for knowledge exchange and collaboration. “Christian and I got along well,” Wuerfel said. “We started talking about my experience and some of the stunning rigging productions we are delivering, and then the conversation turned to how we might be able to train his team in statics, mechanical advantages and PPE usage.”

According to Gakwaya, the Rwandan events market is growing and needs capacity building to sustain it. “One of the challenges we’re facing is how we can develop our technical rigging skills,” he commented. “We are in a market where the event industry is still new. We are the first generation in this business and most of our colleagues are self-taught young people. So, when we met with Alex, who brings such incredible experience, we were keen to build a synergy between both companies and see how we would start working together.” 

With a July dateline agreed, Wuerfel packed his rigging gear and jumped on a flight to Kigali. “The first few days were all about theory and checking what knowledge level the team had,” he said. “We did a test prior to the theory sessions to give me an understanding of the level everyone was at and help to ensure that we could lift everyone to the same level of knowledge.”  

Following the baseline testing, the Rwanda Events team were put through a carefully coordinated training agenda covering topics such as levers, pulley systems, and forces in triangles. “There were a lot of smoking heads with all the calculations and a lot of questions asked – but crucially there were lots of the right questions,” Wuerfel recalled.
“I was very impressed with the guys’ thirst for knowledge.”

Describing the course as “an opportunity for the team to understand how things can be done on another level”, Gakwaya was full of praise for the initiative. “It’s not that the guys don’t know what they’re doing, but often they might be doing something in an over-complicated way, so they got a lot out of listening to Alex’s experience and tips on how to make things function easily and safely,” he commented. 

As well as the training, Wuerfel supported the Rwanda Events team in setting up an international conference at BK Arena, guiding them in safe working practices. “The whole training and event were very successful and we’re already discussing the next steps so we can go deeper into things like slinging methods, material choices and of course have a few more days of PPE training,” he reflected. 

“The team really enjoyed the approach of Alex, which was more like an exchange of information than a teacher-student relationship,” Gakwaya added. “He treated our team with respect and even though he clearly has much more experience than them, he was willing to see their point of view and help them grow, because he saw their appetite. 

“The training has created more appetite for the team to learn and to explore more,” he concluded. “I think it’s going to be a continuous relationship. I hope Alex and his team come back again to Rwanda and we would welcome the opportunity to send some of our guys to work with Alex’s team and learn by seeing bigger events.” 

Photos: ES:ME Entertainment Services