Nigerian pop singer Yemi Alade, who was scheduled as the headliner for the Festival International Nuits d'Afrique, will not be able to close the 36th edition of the festival this Sunday.
The singer's visa was denied by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada earlier this month.
Suzanne Rousseau, the director and co-founder of the festival spoke with MTL Blog, sharing that Alade received a standard letter stating that there is no proof that she has enough financial means to go back home.
"They're worried that she would stay in Canada," Rousseau said.
According to the organizer, visa procedures for African artists are complicated and are now taking longer than ever before. Rousseau believes that this is due to the closure of many Canadian embassies in recent years, as well as the implementation of additional steps in the visa process.
Suzanne stated that this year is one of the worst when it comes to visa requests. "It's very complicated to get the visas ready on time."
For many seeking visa approval, your file must first be sent to a visa center. "It's not even the embassy at first. You have to get your biometrics done," Rosseau shared. This sometimes even requires a visit to another country, which not only prolongs the process but can cost a lot of money as well.
Not only was Alade's visit to Quebec cancelled but her entire group of musicians had their visas denied as well.
The Festival International Nuits d'Afrique organizers were left scrambling to find a replacement. Luckily, Sampa The Great, an Australian rapper with Zambian roots, was added in as Yemi Alade's replacement.
"For reasons beyond our control, Yemi Alade will not be closing the festival but Sampa The Great, another equally bright star of African youth who is shaking the planet with his multi-influenced music and rhythms [will be performing]," the festival wrote on Instagram.
Yemi's cancellation, which was first reported by Le Devoir, will hopefully bring light to the ongoing issue surrounding the visa process for African artists.
Suzanne Rousseau told MTL Blog that she hopes the Canadian Government can remedy this problem as "they're not making it easy for all African artists to come here."
Considering Montreal is a musical hub with countless year-round festivals, Rousseau hopes the government can get their act together and makes the visa process more practical.
This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.