DJ Africano (real name Jean Ndizihiwe) started spinning discs while still a high school student at Groupe Scolaire De Nyundo. Today, he is a professional DJ with his own label, Africanomania Ltd, a company he set up upon return from South Africa, where he has been based for the last eight years. Moses Opobo caught up with him at the recent Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) opening ceremony at the Kigali Serena Hotel and had a chat:
Who is DJ Africano?
I am a Rwandan, Christian and God-fearing person who has been living in South Africa since 2002. I’m a DJ by profession, addicted to making people dance, an entrepreneur and Panafrican currently touring my motherland. I am a regular swimmer on Lake Kivu in Gisenyi, where I was born, and a basketball player back in the days (Generation Tam Tam).
I did my high school at Groupe Scolaire De Nyundo offering Mathematics & Physics. I studied at KIST before I moved to South Africa.
When and how did you become a DJ?
I became a DJ back in High School at Nyundo, I actually was a cassettes changer at school parties and house parties in the neighborhood.
Professionally it all started at New Light Night Club in Durban, South Africa back in 2005; that’s when I got a chance to touch a mixer in a club.
What do you like most about your job?
As a music addict I cherish the fact that I can party and get filled with joy as I make people dance while at the same time earn a living. Discovering beautiful cities, and learning about new cultures around Africa is amazing.
What are some of the places you have been to in the course of your work?
In Johannesburg where I currently stay, I have entertained in every top club you can think of (Hush, Moloko, Taboo, Sankayi, Latinova, Icon, etc…) In Cape Town I have entertained at Chez Ntemba (March 2013).
I was spotted in Johannesburg by Thierry (One of the organizers of Happy People), and he brought me to entertain at Happy People in Kigali on December 31 2010. I hadn’t been to Rwanda in eight years! I was again brought back to play at Happy People by Thierry in December 2011.
I have played at Bora Bora beach and Kiss Club, both in Bujumbura, at Room 101 in Lusaka, Zambia, in Maputo, Mozambique, at Chez Soleil in Goma in June, and at the We Are One Beach Party at Tam Tam in Gisenyi in August this year.
Currently I play every once in a month at K-Club in Nyarutarama, for Heineken.
What are the qualities of a good DJ?
You have to make everyone dance, from a two-year old to whichever age your crowd may have; whether they are Chinese or Russian, you must make them dance! Don’t drink and spin, period!
How do you rate the DJ scene in Kigali?
There is talent! I like the way the boys use professional DJ gear, it’s impressive considering how expensive the equipment is, and how low they get paid!
A word to aspiring jockeys
Master the art as a disk jockey, and have a vision as a young entrepreneur. Self-branding is key because a DJ has to be a role model; stay away from drugs, excessive alcohol and women, otherwise life will end prematurely; nightlife is full of temptations & dangers.