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Visual impairment not stopping Mwitende from pursuing his musical career

Alexandre Mwitende visited The New Times' head office in Kigali recently. / Photo by Gad Nshimiyimana.

Alexandre Mwitende is one of those people that embody the saying that ‘disability is not inability’.

The 44-year old has stood out to make a mark in Rwanda’s music industry, without letting visual impairment stand in his way.

 

Though he has not been quite in the limelight, Mwitende, who plays a bevy of musical instruments, has been steadily doing music as a trainer, instrumentalist and musician - generally performing other peoples’ songs.

 

Mwitende boasts skills in playing various types of guitars, drums and the piano; exuding an aura of confidence and passion, defying the thinking that disability is inability.

 

He has often been performing to audiences on occasions like public celebrations, weddings and other events until recently when he decided to add something new to his work, going to the studio to record his own music.

So far, he has recorded two songs and looks to record more as he hopes to make the most of his talent.

“My music, prior to launching my career as an artiste, has been earning me money, but I can't say that it has been much. If I play instruments in traditional events or performances, or train people, I am paid. But this is just a little money to support me and my family,” he says.

Mwitende hopes that launching his own career will take him to places among which he dreams of holding a concert in Canada or Belgium,

“It is possible because the songs are available, the mind to compose them is available, and I am also around,” he says.

His two songs so far ‘Reka nkuririmbe’ and ‘Urukundo’ were done with the support of gospel artiste Tonzi through her institution that takes care of people with mental disabilities.

Mwitende became blind at less than five years of age due to natural conditions. A few years later, he joined a musical school in Gatagara, where his talent for music was discovered and the teachers helped him to nurture it.

He says disability is not inability, and encourages people to be confident that they can work and be productive.

“There are many people who think that people with disabilities cannot do anything. That's not true,” he says.

“What can't a blind person do?  They can be leaders; they can be musicians and more as long as they have gone to school. And going to school is possible. Nowadays we are studying and even reaching university level. Having a disability is not inability,” he adds.

He says that being blind or having another kind of disability does not mean that you are unable to go after your dreams.

“You are able to work like others. I am a musician, and I won't stop because it is where I earn a living. I have a family, I have children for whom I take care of, I reside in Kigali and all of this I got is supported by my music,” he said.

hkuteesa@newtimesrwanda.com

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