A hitherto little-known Sylvie Ingabire has been on people’s lips since last week when she appeared on stage as the emcee when the eighth edition of Primus Guma Guma Super Star kicked off.
Meeting her personally, Ingabire poses a humble personality but it seems her sophistication is compensated on stage.
She replaced radio personality and emcee Anita Pendo who graced most of the past road shows and has proved to be the new force to reckon with thanks to her bubbly, energetic and charming persona.
Claim to fame
Ingabire never saw her life taking this direction even though she has had quite some experience in the field and a natural attraction to the microphone.
She got her first emceeing job after completing high school in 2007. It was then that she knew what she wanted to do; cheer crowds.
“I love speeches and my friends will tell you if I don’t give a speech at any event, I will not be happy. My mother always told me that I was a bubbly kid who always had something to say.”
“I do not like sitting and being idle and therefore I set out to find a job. My first gig was with MTN in 2007 and travelled upcountry promoting MTN products,” she says.
Her biggest break came when she was appointed events manager during an expo, at one of the local breweries in 2008 before she quit the job three years later to pursue a Bachelors degree in Business Administration, with a major in marketing at Cavendish University in Uganda.
“Emceeing is something that enables me to express myself and show what I can do. We have a lot of emcees but people want to know what makes you different from others. I knew that my strength was my fluency in English, French, Swahili, and Kinyarwanda.
During that time, I was working night time, doing bar promotions until the manager came to me and asked me to be the events manager. It was an assurance that I was meant for this.”
Moving on to Uganda, she couldn’t carry on with emceeing due to the language barrier with the local dialect. She returned back last year, upon graduation, and she has since been working hard to boost her career. Remmy Lubega, who organises the Kigali Jazz Junction gave her a gig in March this year where she co-hosted with popular events host, Georgie Ndirangu, who she says has since been her inspiration.
The feedback from people pushed her further and was immediately approached by Joseph Mushyoma, CEO of East African Promoters (EAP), the firm behind the Primus Guma Guma Superstar contest.
“He was abit skeptical because they wanted a good replacement for Anita Pendo and someone who could relate to the crowd. My performance at the road show was sort of a trial and even though I was nervous at first, I quickly connected with the crowd,” she says.
Ingabire has a passion for dancing and was once a professional dancer with music group Bad boys although her mother discouraged her from dancing publically. She gets the talent from her grandfather who was intore (traditional dancer) for the king.
While in Uganda, she formed a dancing group of young girls, doing choreography for her local church, until they began performing at events. She is however, a shy person when it comes to meeting people one on one.
“It scares me, I love to impress people and I hate disappointing people. To me it matters how I present myself but the moment I step on the stage I quickly become myself.
“My abilities in public speaking and dancing have aided me while on stage because not all emcees are necessarily comedians, although we need to be able to entertain. I don’t think I can make people laugh but I dance to show people that I am already in the party,” she says.
Her biggest challenge is having to prove to people that emceeing is something she loves and that she doesn’t take drugs to perform on stage.
She strongly believes in coming across in an interesting, entertaining and informative way and was inspired mostly by Anita Pendo who she says she has known for a long time. She also admires Arthur Nkusi’s work who she hopes to work with to learn the comedy part from him.
“My approach is dancing but I will not dance forever,” she says.
Her advice to young people: “nothing is small as long as you know what you want. Follow your dream and stay focused. Get out there and expose yourself, because no one will know what you are capable. Even if a gig is for free it will pay off.
Some people will appreciate you while others will be against you. You just have to learn how to appreciate them and learn to approach people differently.”
Ingabire envisions her future as an international MC, exporting her talent to other parts of the world.
“I don’t want my emceeing to stop here in Rwanda. Whatever it takes, I am very eager to keep learning about emceeing. I have seen organisers bringing in emcees from other countries and I believe that we too have the potential to export talent to other countries.”
Quick facts about Ingabire
She was born in Burundi, but came back to Rwanda in 1995.
She attended many schools like La columbiere and SOS for primary, went back to Burundi for one year and later joined St. Joseph, Kabgayi where she also got involved in sports like basketball.
Upon completing high school she went to Uganda mainly to learn English and also studied for a certificate in tourism. She graduated last year from Cavendish University in Uganda with Bachelors degree in Business Administration.
Their views about Ingabire
She has been in this field for a long time and she knows how to connect with her audience and is confident with the microphone. I have known her for a long time and I know that she has the talent for the mass market.
Emceeing is something that requires, passion, experience, energy to grab the attention of the audience, and above all authenticity and relevance which I think she can be able to learn. I encourage her to seize the opportunity as well as other talented women because the industry needs them.
Remmy Lubega, CEO RG consult
She did great during the road show and we were impressed. So far she is what we need for outdoor events because it is not easy to entertain over 2,000 people, yet she was able to do so with ease. We hope to continue working with her, because she knows how to connect with the crowd.
Joseph Mushyoma, CEO East African Promoters
I have worked with Sylvie and I know her to be knowledgeable, knows how to command attention from her crowd and bring life to the room. I enjoyed working with her, because she knows how to command her audience.
Georgie Ndirangu, events host
She is good and definitely a good replacement for Anita Pendo because she carries the same vibe of entertainment. I would however advise her to use her own style because I believe that she has a personal touch. Such big events tend to dictate on the approach which may force her to mimic Anita’s style. She needs to be herself and be more creative.
David Bayingana, Entertainment reporter