Rwandan DJs on challenges they encounter at their job

Disc jockeys, also known as DJs, play a vital role in ensuring that you get happy when you go out or when you attend a party. They create the mood and bring the fun to the house.

Their job cannot be underestimated, as they perform for live audiences with different tastes and make sure you have great time, whether you are in the nightclub, watching TV or listening to a radio broadcast.


In period of the pandemic, they have ensured that they keep you entertained online with live Instagram and Facebook performances. They also generate mixtape, remixes and even produce their own songs as it has been in recent times.


Like any other job, it is never a lap of luxury as they meet challenges that affect their work and many do give up after a short while in the craft. Those who hold on tight to their profession tend to make it and become household names.


However, it is not that easy, given the society perceptions, family and life pressures, as some may fail to monetize their skills. The New Times spoke to a number of DJs, who opened up about the thorny side of their work.

Arnaud Shema, aka DJ Toxxyk, is one of the most popular DJs in Rwanda. He noted that it is DJs that carry the whole party on their shoulders, from MCing, DJing and making the mood.Although they are not recognised sometimes by the audience, their role can’t go unnoticed when music is not good. It takes an effort to turn on the music and impress everyone.  

He said that the new coronavirus left many DJs jobless as clubs were closed, yet they have families to cater for and bills to pay. He referred to the current situation he referred to as ‘survival mode’, where you have to be extremely creative to earn something in these times.

Unlike other jobs where people can work from their homes and still get paid, for DJs, it can’t work that way. Even when efforts are put on entertaining the audience online, through social media live performances, no penny comes out of it, DJ Toxxyk stressed.

“Unfortunately, DJs are not yet back on their feet, even when restaurants and hotels were allowed to open up to 8pm, following health safety guidelines to curb the spread of Covid-19, we are not yet being hired since music is not allowed,”

“I for one have tried checking out bars, although they play loud music, when you ask for a job or come up with a proposal, they still won’t hire you,”

“If motorcycles and other workers were allowed to resume work with some precautions, even DJs deserve such a chance in order to survive. Things have been difficult for most of us,” he stated.

Esther Brianne Gateka, known as DJ Brianne stated that female DJs still face a challenge of being viewed by man as prostitutes while men are always proposing to date them since they meet them in nightclubs.

She stressed that there is no harm for women to Deejay late in the night and should be given the proper respect they deserve because it is work like any other work.

DJ Marnaud, born Arnaud Gatera Mugisha, said that one of the challenges that DJs face is that people don’t take them seriously.

 They forget that everyone was born to fulfill a certain task, which is why some people are pilots, doctors, engineers and others are sports men and women, pastors, comedians, musicians and the list is endless.

“What one can do, others might not do,” DJ Marnaud added, pointing out that deejaying is not as easy as many people think.

 He also said that DJs deserve respect as not everyone has a talent to entertain people every weekend or even weekdays.

 “A DJ can entertain people from Wednesday to Sunday, meaning that they work during night shifts, spending more than five hours standing. This is where passion comes in. You can’t do that when you are not passionate about what you do,” he said.

DJ Marnaud points out that deejaying is a profession that puts food on the table for many and sustains families.

Hilde Flora Nyirimbabazi, aka DJ Princess Flor, highlighted that the hardest bit about deejaying is working at night as it affects one’s social life.

According to DJ Lenzo, alias Lenz Ayingana, being a disc jockey takes a lot of effort, for instance, opening up to the crowd, it doesn’t matter if the crowd has 10 people or a million.

DJs are expected to do the hard task of embracing the crowd, engaging the audience and keeping up the high energy levels, at the same time. In addition to creating the atmosphere and getting the audience excited and dancing along.

“Unfortunately, there are no schools or institutions in Rwanda that teach this profession. In case a person wants to study a course in deejaying, they either go abroad or study online,”

“Those without means end up giving up on studying what they want to do in life and that is a big problem to the future generation that wishes to do deejaying as their career,” he pointed out.

DJ Lenzo also carried on that deejaying can’t be on another level because there are no jobs for the new crop of deejays especially because event organisers and places use the same deejays, making it hard for new and upcoming ones to find work.

Most TV stations or Radio stations where they should be working don’t pay for their work, under the pretext that they gave them a platform to promote themselves. This has hindered upcoming DJs to grow in this profession.

Sonia Kayitesi, aka DJ Sonia, explained that DJs encounter challenges especially regarding the costly equipment used in deejaying, such as digital sound mixers, turntables, laptops, hard disks, among others. This means skills can’t be perfected, and it mostly affects upcoming DJs.

“Since DJs are always playing loud music during performances, scientifically, loud music has been proven to have an effect on the human body. Chances are they’re likely to develop hearing problems, but there is nothing one can do since this is all about work and entertaining people,” she said.

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