AMIN MUHIRE is a professional traditional dancer and trainer of the RwaMakondera Children’s Dance Troupe in Kigali.
He spends most of his time passing on his skills and Rwanda’s cultural heritage to the younger generation through training them in dance and playing traditional instruments.
In an interview with The New Times, Muhire explains why Rwanda’s Traditional dance and music is a treasure that society needs.
“I’m lucky to be part of a rich heritage and I’m glad it has fed me,” Muhire says.
“I started training people when I was still in secondary school. When I joined Kigali Independent University to purse a Bachelors Degree in Law, I run out of money in my second year, and I thought the only way I could contribute in building my nation was through using my talent to improve the lives of disadvantaged children” he says.
RwaMakondera, founded by Colin Sekajugo of Ivuka Arts Studios is a group of children from disadvantaged backgrounds who are placed in an artistic community that nurtures their talents and gives them a platform for self-expression.
Clarisse Umutoni, a 14-year-old dancer with RwaMakondera Dance Troupe, says she has learnt not only her cultural roots, but a talent that she can use in the future.
“I’m happy that teacher Muhire has trained me into becoming a talented Rwandan Traditional dancer and I have been able to go places, like Holland and Britain which I didn’t dream of going to,” Umutoni says.
Muhire traces his dancing and use of ancient Rwandan traditional instrument skills to his forefathers who were dancers and traditional musicians.
Muhire’s first instrument was a guitar, which he played at the age of five.
“When my father bought me a tiny wooden guitar and told me to always greet him in the morning by playing the guitar,” he recalls.
“I want to pass on the cultural education I attained from great men such as my grandfather Tarsis Kanimba, the late celebrated Cultural singer Mzee Athanase Rwagiriza Sentore and Michael Ngabo, to Rwanda’s children,” Muhire explains. This way he can keep the cultural torch burning, he says.
He also trains Ingazo Junior in Mutara District (Eastern Province) and Inyenyeri Dance Troupe in Remera Sector which is made up of university students.
He spends most of his time with RwaMakondera and trains the two other troupes at least twice a week for 12 hours to dance Intore, Amaraba and other contemporary dances.
Among his challenges as a dance trainer, is maintaining the indigenous Rwandan dance styles. This he says sprouts from the fact that there are fewer people involved in promoting culture.
The 28-year-old Muhire was born in Masisi in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. As a child born in a foreign land with a refugee status, he faced several challenges and violence in his life.
“While growing up, I was physically abused by my peers for being Rwandan. Being the third child in a family of four, others being girls, we opted to carrying sticks around so that we could defend ourselves from fellow students who bullied us for being refugees. My eldest sister was beaten by a teacher at school and when she was taken to hospital they didn’t attend to her and she later died because she was a refugee,” Muhire sadly said.
Due to the unfair treatment he faced as a refugee, he says that he made the decision to become a lawyer as a child—even though this didn’t work out.
“My childhood dream was to make sure that justice prevailed but my focus was short lived since I didn’t graduate as a lawyer. However I’m happy that I get to teach Rwandans our cultural traits that define us,” he says.
“When you do something that you love, it sustains you and today I’m reaping from my talent.”
Dish: – Beans and cassava with a glass of milk.
Music: – Rwandan Traditional music
Sport: – Karate
Quote: – ‘Hard work pays’