Meet Kigali’s leading emcees

Emceeing is one of the most important roles at an event, but for a long time, this was more of a ‘side hustle’. However, this has since changed. Choosing the right emcee for a particular ceremony has become crucial, and being the host and facilitator of the event, an emcee can either make or break the ceremony.

Competence and a unique persona are some of the traits required for one to be at the top of this game. Hosts in Rwanda have picked a leaf and below are some of the popular figures making an outstanding reputation in the world of emceeing.

Sandrine Isheja

She is a radio presenter at Kiss FM and does emceeing for corporate events mostly. Her journey started way back as a student at the former National University of Rwanda where she used to host concerts held at campus.

She emceed at album launches and award ceremonies and now also does corporate events, such as MTN’s 20-year anniversary, and the previous two RDB Business Excellence awards as well as Government events; the ‘Kwibohora 25’ concert including the previous FESPAD, and many more.

She says her journey has been constantly evolving and that some of her best highlights include the recent Kigali International Peace Marathon, noting that it was her first time to cover a sports event, and the Youth Connect Africa Summit 2018 because it was her first international event.

Her worst memory as an emcee was during FESPAD 2018 when she announced Sauti Sol and the audience had to wait for them for almost an hour and consequently didn’t show up.

Isheja notes that this career comes with challenges, however, it’s her professionalism that’s aiding her survival.

“I always show up on time and deliver as agreed upon with the client, my composure; determination and discipline make me a considerable emcee for corporate events. Also, I have noticed that my eloquence in Kinyarwanda is an advantage that got me many gigs,” she says.

Anita Pendo

Pendo has for years been a prominent figure on the entertainment scene. She is a DJ, TV and radio presenter as well as an emcee. She is famous for her unique act with entertainment shows.

Her energetic and lively presence on stage has won her many gigs as an emcee. The mother-of-two has hosted different events such as Primus Guma-Guma Superstar, Miss Rwanda beauty pageant, and Summer Kids Festival among others.

Friday James

James’ journey as an emcee has been characterised by exponential growth and lessons. As an emcee, he has learnt that every stage has its audience, vibe and challenges.

“It’s always a tough task to weave through with balance. However, when you love doing it, you always find a way out,” he says.

James, also a news anchor with Rwanda Broadcasting Agency, notes that a milestone in his work as an emcee is every completed task commended and lauded by the client.

“Whether a stage is big or small, it doesn’t matter because the reverence is the same even though preparations may vary depending on the assignments,” he says.

He has served in African Union of Broadcasters (AUB), World Economic Forum, Transform Africa, Smart Africa, Miss Rwanda, IMSAR (Improving Market Systems for Agriculture in Rwanda), Pitch AgriHack, University of Rwanda, Never Again, ‘I am the future’ music project, weddings and more.

James notes that Miss Rwanda pageant has been one of the greatest highlights due to the large audience.

“My creativity and coordination worked spot on. I also enjoyed serving with AUB and Transform Africa, I met people that appreciated my work and opened more opportunities for me,” he says.

The mistakes he made during his first days working as an emcee taught him a lot, he says.

“I have called people mister when they are doctors, wrongly translated French words to English, called a wrong person on stage. I have had to interrupt big figures to keep time. All these experiences have only shaped me better,” he says.

James has come to the realisation that emceeing is the only job one can never be prepared enough for—anything can happen— and one has to rely on fast decision making, improvisation and creativity.

He hopes to keep on growing as he builds a brand in the world of emceeing.

“I think every MC has got their style. I try to maintain my down-to-earth personality, sense of humour, dynamism, flexibility, creativity, spoken languages and dress code. However, I am not yet where I would like to be. I want more opportunities, big and small to learn and serve more.”

Sylvie Ingabire

Though fairly known in the industry, Ingabire possesses a unique touch when it comes to hosting events. She started hosting events right after high school way back in 2007 and since then, she has never looked back.

Last year, she took the industry by storm when she was selected to be the host of the eighth edition of Primus Guma-Guma Super Star. Her robust and cheerful act added colour to the event.

Arthur Nkusi

Among the many hats he wears, Nkusi says working as an emcee has been an interesting journey for him.

Starting from just hosting school events to now doing corporate/high-end events is something he says he always feels proud of.

“In this field of hosting events, you normally find people put in categories.  In my journey, I have passed through every category, from emceeing on advertisement tracks on roadshows, to big concerts, hosting dinners and corporate events. I find all this as a big achievement, I can say now my brand has grown to being trusted with all kinds of audiences,’ Nkusi says.

He notes that his best moments are always with big concerts, because then he gets to use all his talents since the limits are few.

The worst moments, however, have been when he hosts an event that is not well organised, and he ends up being the event organiser. “And such events end up paying late.” (laughs)

He recalls hosting an award ceremony where the organisers had not prepared the awards. They had brought them at the venue one hour after the event had started and had forgotten to put them in the right category and order. He had to stop the show for a few hours.

Nkusi believes that his artistic skill spice up his performance as an emcee.

“I use all my talents when emceeing. I have done theatre for about 15 years now and being an artist has given me an upper hand when it comes to audience management. I also organise events, so I tend to give help to the organisers with ideas on having a great event.”

He also considers that being a public figure helps sometimes, because he doesn’t have to spend much time familiarising himself to the audience.

“Another thing is that I have done all sorts of emceeing so any event is safe with me.”

Makeda Mahadeo

She is a media personality, deejay and also does emceeing for events. With a distinct and sophisticated style, Makeda does corporate events and entertainment as well.

Lion Imanzi

Lion Imanzi has hosted music album launches, Primus Guma-Guma Super Star and also emceed for the Miss Rwanda beauty pageant. 

He has been on the scene for a very long time. Imanzi has hosted for music album launches, Primus Guma-Guma Super Star and has also emceed for the Miss Rwanda beauty pageant. He is skilled with languages as the emcee is fluent with Kinyarwanda, French and English, and this has given him the advantage of hosting for a variety of shows. His dynamism and charisma make him stand out as an emcee.

editorial@newtimesrwanda.com

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