Rwandan filmmaker, actor Rwasa dies after short illness

Denis Nsazamahoro passed on Thursday. / Courtesy

Rwanda’s film fraternity and the general public are mourning the sudden death of celebrated film director, producer, and actor Denis Nsanzamahoro, also known as ‘Rwasa’ that occurred on Thursday afternoon.

The news of his death was confirmed by Alex Muyoboke who has been taking care of the film star at the University Teaching Hospital of Kigali (CHUK), where he was hospitalized since Monday after suffering complications from diabetes, to which he succumbed.

“Yes, it is true. He died Thursday afternoon. He had been in the hospital for very few days before he passed, away” he told The New Times.

Nsanzamahoro had established himself as one of the most celebrated actors the local film industry has ever had since he launched his professional career in filmmaking 20 years ago, having successfully starred in popular films, from locals like Rwasa [where he derived his nickname] and Ay’Urukundo, among others, as well as several commercials.

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His talent earned him acting roles in the film Sometimes in April, which features filmmaker Idris Elba in 2003, and 100 Days, produced in 2003 by British film director Jack Hughes.

The last film in which he starred is Petit Pays, produced by Gael Faye in June this year.

Tributes for the filmmaker and producer continue to pour in from friends and members of the film industry as well as celebrities who were shocked by the death of Rwasa who was one of the pioneering and outstanding actors in Rwanda.

The state minister for East African Community, Olivier Nduhungirehe, eulogized him saying he was a young and talented film star.

“A producer, a director, an actor, a friend and a former classmate in primary school (APE Rugunga), Denis “Bulldozer” Nsanzamahoro passed away today. Young and talented, his sudden death leaves all us in shock and pain. May his soul rest in eternal peace,” he tweeted.

Willy Ndahiro, who has known Nsanzamahoro for over 14 years, told The New Times that Nsanzamahoro’s death came as a shocker.

“I did not know he was hospitalized, I only read the news about his death in the media and find it too hard to take in. It really hurts to lose a character like Nsanzamahoro.”

“Dennis was my friend. He has been a good partner in filmmaking as we have been fighting together for this industry’s development. I have known him for a long time and I will have fond memories of him as one of the biggest and most talented actors Rwanda has ever had,” Ndahiro said.

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Ahmed Harerimana, the Secretary-General of Rwanda Film Federation, said the death of Nsanzamahoro deals a huge blow to the film industry.
“I acted in the same film with Nsanzamahoro, Rwasa, but I hadn’t shared a stage with him. He was an actor I looked up to,” he said.
“Denis had grown from the main actor to a leading actor. He was a role model and inspired many to join the industry after the Genocide against Tutsi.”

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