PROFILE: Rwanda’s longest serving Cameraman
Valence Rwamukwaya is one of the longest serving TV camera operators in Rwanda. He is the brains behind some of the documentaries, features and newscasts that are aired on Rwanda Broadcasting Corporation.
Born on October 10, 1956 in the District of Nyaruguru, Southern Province, Rwamukwaya is the last child in a family of seven.
The 56-year-old Rwamukwaya lost most of his relatives during the insurgences that befell Rwanda in 1959 before going to Burundi as a refugee at the tender of three.
“I have been in the broadcast industry since 1982. I first worked on Radio Burundi Channel Two (which broadcasted in foreign languages such as French, English and Kiswahili. I was first a presenter before becoming a producer,” Rwamukwaya explains.
As a child, he always wanted to become an economist but he did not achieve this dream, as he was a refugee.
“I spent two weeks in the Bachelors of Economics class while at the University of Burundi, but because there was no government sponsorship for foreigners, I was shifted to the faculty of Psychology and Science Education. As a result of social problems, I studied for only two years and instead of a degree I got an Advanced Diploma,” Rwamukwaya says.
A year later, he attained his Diploma and started job hunting. He then applied for a radio job after heeding to its advert on the airwaves.
Rwamukwaya recalls the challenges he went through.
“My brother discouraged me at first that it would be hard for me to get the job but I told him that I only wanted to test my French language skills,” Rwamukwaya explains.
The Radio station wanted to recruit five people, and close to 57 people came for the interview. The interview was about writing a composition and 10 people were shortlisted including Rwamukwaya, for the final selection.
“When the Director told me that they would not recruit me, I told him that I expected it because I was Rwandan and Burundians were given first priority. Two weeks later the same Director summoned me at the radio premises to give me the job since two of the finalists that were recruited had not come for the job,” Rwamukwaya said.
He worked for Radio Burundi for two years. He was also among the pioneer workers of Burundi Television in 1984.
“I had become a producer on Radio but when they were recruiting people to work on Television, we on radio where given first priority. We were trained for six months in show presentation, managing technical equipment and shooting documentaries. It was after the training that the French trainers said I would be the camera personnel given the good image composition that I was shooting during the trainings,” Rwamukwaya discloses.
He further adds that the other added advantage for the job besides his skills was his height.
“I loved the shooting process and the trainers also said that with my height, I was the best person for the Camera job. I worked for Burundi Television until July 1994 when I returned to Rwanda with my family,” Rwamukwaya said.
When he returned to Rwanda, he was hired as a reporter on Radio Rwanda from July 1994 till September the same year. When Rwanda Television was opened in October 1994, Rwamukwaya moved back to his most treasured profession because he enjoyed shooting documentaries and news clips.
Rwanda Television started airing shows on a daily basis in 1996. In 1998, Rwamukwaya took on a full time job as a Cameraman at the current Rwanda Broadcasting service.
Regarding the challenges he faces at work he said:
“My job has no fixed schedule and that affects my life. For instance, it can be hard to attend a friend’s wedding or even visit a sick relative in hospital. The other thing is the wide gap that is between the work load and the paycheck. The money could not be enough to cater for all the needs of the family thus I opt for side jobs during my off days,” he says.
Besides shooting documentaries, features and news stories, he is also a family man. He got married to Beatrice Mukakarangwa in 1989 and they are blessed with six children. Like most Rwandans, he cares for the children of his late relatives.
Speaking about the future, he said that the Great Lakes Media Center has done a lot to shape the journalism profession in Rwanda.
“When I compare journalism at the beginning of my career to its current state in Rwanda, I’m happy to say that more journalists are more ethical and comply with the rules and regulations that govern the profession,” he explains.
According to Vital Ndayambanje, Senior Presenter at Rwanda Broadcasting Service, Rwamukwaya is honest and very social at work.
“I have known Rwamukwaya since 1994 and he is a very positive and optimistic person because he is outgoing and always happy. He works really hard and he is skilled at what he does,” Ndayambanje said.
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