Meet Mulisa, the 11-year-old upcoming traditional musician

Jimmy Mulisa. / Dan Nsengiyumva.

It is not common in Rwanda for modern artistes to consider going into traditional music or ‘Gakondo’ given its complexity, with many opting for modern genres like Afrobeat and R&B.

But that is not the case of Jimmy Mulisa, the 11-year-old who is undoubtedly one of few young and talented traditional music enthusiasts that Rwanda has.


Born in 2009, the second born of four grew up seeing his father singing traditional music while playing guitar, hence falling in love with the musical instrument that he has mastered so well.


Mulisa started getting music lessons from his dad mid last year, thanks to his manager and guardian Edouard Harerimana.


“His father was a friend of my parents because we used to be neighbours in Ruhango district, Southern province- where I was born from. I knew that his father was talented, but because managing older people is not easy, I advised him to pass his skills to any of his children so that I can help them in my few means,” Harerimana explained.

According to Mulisa, he was the only one interested in learning from his dad. 

“I could see him teaching other people to playguitar, and pick the instrument when no one was around. One day he found me playing it, and decided to teach me how to play it whenever he was around,” he said.

He started with doing cover songs of renowned traditional singers like Sudi Mavenge, Francois Nkurunziza and Jean Baptiste Byumvuhore, whom he says are his role models.

The artiste also has his own songs. So far he has five written songs, of which one that talks about the New Coronavirus pandemic was released recently.

He says that, he writes for himself and then his manager and dad make some adjustments on what he has written.

Mulisa stays with Harerimana in Kinyinya sector, Gasabo district before he can go back to school. He is currently in his fifth year of primary, at a school located in Ruhango district.

His manager says that he wants him to first concentrate on his studies and do music as a side gig, before he can make it a career at an older age.

The young artiste who has been making TV appearances recently reiterates that his love for traditional music is here to stay.

“I can’t change to another music genre, because I love traditional music. I also find it more educative, through the life-changing message packed in all its songs, which is not the case with many other music genres.”

His craft has appealed to many on social media who are amazed by his skills.

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