Jason Derulo thrilled by his experience in Rwanda
Jason Derulo’s recent trip to Rwanda fulfilled one of the R&B singer-songwriter’s long-standing dreams: to visit Africa.
On July 27, the 22-year old Haitian-American singer traveled to the continent for the first time to perform in the finale concert of Rwanda’s Primus Guma Guma Superstar Season II competition.
“When I heard that Rwanda was the first place in Africa that I'd be going, I was excited,” said Derulo. “I always looked up to the people of Rwanda for how they overcame adversity in such a short period of time.”
On July 28, Derulo performed to tens of thousands of fans who packed Amahoro Stadium’s main parking ground in Kigali and, crowded the length of the streets outside.
In addition to singing his most popular hits “Whatcha Say,” “Riding Solo,” “Fight for You,” and “It Girl,” Derulo also showcased dance sequences that elicited impressed cheers and applause from the masses.
“I've performed in a lot of places but the amount of love I felt here was just unparalleled,” said Derulo after the concert.
Derulo wrote his first song when he was eight years-old and has been a presence in the music world since age 12, when he started composing for major artistes including Diddy, Lil Wayne, Danity Kane and Sean Kingston.
In 2009, his debut single, “Whatcha Say,” sold over five million digital downloads and reached number one in the U.S. and New Zealand. Since then, Derulo has released two studio albums and garnered numerous awards and accolades as a breakout artiste and talented songwriter.
The accomplished artiste’s recent neck injury in January of this year required him to cancel all tour dates, but fortunately, his smooth recovery allowed him to retain his concert in Rwanda.
Derulo’s concert in Kigali followed performances by the final two contestants of the Primus Guma Guma Superstar Season II competition, Jay Polly and King James. The finale concluded with King James emerging as the winner of the competition.
When asked what advice he could give to aspiring artists and musicians in Rwanda, Derulo emphasised work ethic.
“There are many people around the world, who have the same desires as you and what will make you different, what will make you stand out, is how much work you put into it – whether it be you wanting to be the best performer, the best basketball player, the best doctor,” he said, “Work ethic is everything.”
Derulo’s two-day trip to the country was marked not only by the nationally televised concert, but also by a visit to one of Kigali’s public hospitals, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Kigali (CHUK).
The singer, who had been staying at the five-star Kigali Serena Hotel just two blocks from the hospital, heard about the work of Solid’Africa, a local non-profit organisation that helps and supports vulnerable patients in local public hospitals.
“Before I left, I wanted to touch the people of Rwanda one last time, and I thought visiting a hospital was the perfect place,” said Derulo, in an exclusive interview. “I know that healthcare is free for most [Rwandans in the hospital] but the food is not.”
Prior to his visit to CHUK, Derulo posted on his Twitter (@jasonderulo) a quote that had resonated with him during his visit to Rwanda: “Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. – Plato.” Within minutes, his post had garnered over 4,000 Facebook likes, hundreds of comments, and hundreds of retweets from his millions of fans.
Just hours before his flight back to the United States, Derulo joined members of Solid’Africa at CHUK to serve lunch to hospital patients during their monthly Solid’Sunday event.
As he ladled food onto plates and bowls, the singer smiled and waved to patients who sat up in their beds and reached out to him.
“The visit was powerful and heart-wrenching at the same time,” said Derulo. “It's always difficult to see people that are sick. And I know every day they don't get the nourishment that they need.”
Derulo expressed his admiration for Solid’Africa and the dedication and drive of its members to improve conditions in public hospitals.
“There's a lot of pain in the world, there's a lot of pain here and in Africa, and you don't really realise your blessings until you see the other side,” said Derulo.
“I want to be a part of what Solid'Africa is doing,” he added.
Derulo will spend the next two and a half months in Australia taping the upcoming dance show, Everybody Dance Now. On the show, Derulo and his squad will prepare for and engage in a dance battle against another team led by R&B star, Kelly Rowland. Although Derulo has many projects ahead, he feels inspired and moved by his two days in Rwanda.
“I can't wait for my next trip to Africa,” he said. “I'm excited to come back.”