How the first ArtRwanda-Ubuhanzi auditions went down

The inaugural auditions of ArtRwanda-Ubuhanzi talent search show went down last weekend in Kayonza District, Eastern Province.

A total of 429 youths thronged Midland Motel in Kayonza District, as early as 6a.m seeking to try their luck on the new talent show launched recently by Imbuto Foundation in partnership with the Ministries of Sports and Culture, and Youth.


The project, which kicked off on September 8, is aimed at identifying and supporting young talented Rwandans in the creative arts industry.


The judges will be looking for creative young adults in six different categories, including plastic arts, dance and music, fashion, acting and drama, cinematography and photography, and literature and poetry. 


The auditions in Kayonza were characterised by tears of joy for those who made it through and sadness for those who failed to convince the judges.

It was a day of fun and sheer talent exhibition and one of the contestants turned up with a home-made helicopter, only that it couldn’t fly.

For the judges, Eric Kabera of Rwanda Cinema Centre, Jean Marie Vianney Kabakera, an artiste, media personality Sandrine Isheja, actor Jones Kennedy Mazimpaka and singer Danny Vumbi, the turn-up was overwhelming.

Some of the contestants brought with them already made art and fashion pieces, while others simply came to display their talent and skills right in front of the judges. In the end, some got ‘Yes’ and others ‘No’.

Marie Grace Ishimwe, who got five ‘Yes’ approvals, cried tears of joy as she exited the hall, after mesmerising the judges with her voice, as did Yvette Muhorakeye.

“I can’t believe I have made it to the next stage. I will do my best to continue up to the national level,” said Ishimwe. 

Similarly, Samuel Ndayishimiye, an amateur photographer, made it to the next stage after he exhibited captivating photos which wowed the judges, hence getting a nod from all five.

But Théoneste Munyabugingo’s non-flying ‘mini-chopper’ – made out of metal bars and tarpaulins – could not convince the judges to give him the green light.

Upcoming ventriloquist Patience Karani Uwiringiyimana, aka Papa Golizo, also got a nod from the judges for his Puppet art skills.

The highlight of the day came from Clarisse Nyirabera, 31, a visually impaired poet, whose amazing poem blew away the judges.

Also to make it through was 22-year-old Jean d’Amour Umukiza, a talented digital painter who stunned the judges with his work of art, earning ‘yes’ from all five judges. Diane Muberarugo, 18, also made it through after exhibiting traditional dance moves.

In fashion, Samadu Akumuntu and Divine Mizero impressed the judges, while visual artist Emmanuel Munyengabe also pulled through.

According to judge Kabera, the first audition proved that there is hidden talent among Rwandan youth, and a talent show like ‘ArtRwanda-Ubuhanzi’ will go a long way in unearthing and developing this talent.

“From what we have seen, what the youth lack is a platform and this is what exactly ArtRwanda-Ubuhanzi has come to do – to give them an opportunity.

“Today, we have been able to see how talented young people are,” he said.

The ArtRwanda-Ubuhanzi roadtrip auditions will be held across the country in September.

Besides Kayonza, auditions will be held in five five other selected sites; Rubavu, Musanze, Rusizi, Huye and Kigali.

According to the organisers, the project targets young Rwandans aged between 18-35 years who are required to register at the selected sites and perform in any of the six different categories: plastic arts, dance and music, fashion, acting and drama, cinematography and photography, and literature.

On each site, a team of five recognised judges will select the contestants within the six categories, and the best will advance to the next phase. 120 contestants will be selected from all six sites, representing the six categories. From the 120, 60 contestants will be selected during pre-selection phase.

To take part in the auditions, contestants present their Identification Cards. They are also required to present their original work.

Each week, the selected performers will receive challenges, giving them an opportunity to showcase their talent, and the least successful will be eliminated.

Throughout the project, contestants will be mentored by industry experts and receive advice on how to transform their talent into sustainable employment opportunities, in an effort to support their artistic development and future career aspirations.

The project is aimed at nurturing young and little-known Rwandan talents, as well as contributing to the reduction of youth unemployment, which slows down national development.

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