Guitar maestro reminisces his past

For Dodos Rukema, being an entertainer is all the life he knows. The 43-year-old was born in Gasabo District and went to Kabuye Primary school in Jabana before joining Nyundo School of Arts in the Western Province, where he studied for only two years.
Singer and guitarist Dodos Rukema plays a guitar outside his house in Karuruma, Kigali. (A. Agaba)
Singer and guitarist Dodos Rukema plays a guitar outside his house in Karuruma, Kigali. (A. Agaba)

For Dodos Rukema, being an entertainer is all the life he knows. The 43-year-old was born in Gasabo District and went to Kabuye Primary school in Jabana before joining Nyundo School of Arts in the Western Province, where he studied for only two years. 

As he recalls, back then at Nyundo Arts School, they used to study subjects like; Fine art and sculpture, carpentry but they had no option for music. “In my family, most of my relatives were artistes and actually some of them were in orchestra Shizirungu which used to perform in Rutongo in Gasabo district.”

Rukema was passionate about singing since he was a little boy and, because his siblings were older than him and into music, he developed the passion for performing on stage.

“At Nyundo I learnt how to play the guitar and the piano. After school I joined a small orchestra, Amizero band; we used to perform in Rutungo in Karuruma in 1993,” says Rukema.

Some of his songs include Ikaze Mugeni, Mukunzi Wanjye, Urwa Gasabo ruraneje and Ahonajishe, among others.

He worked with many renowned singers in Gakondo band, such as Alex Nyirinkwaya, famous for the Hotel Kiyovu track. Back in the day, his early initiation to music was singing in church choirs.

After the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, Gakondo band was dismantled and only two of the eight former members survived the massacre. But the memory of performing never left him and he was happy when in 1998, live band groups started to perform Igisope.

According to Rukema, in 2013, the surviving members of Orchestra Impala decided to revamp it. Orchestra Impala is comprised of members; Paul Sebigeni aka Mimi La rose, Fidele Jacal, Duiedonne Munyanshoza, Sulieman Gasirabo, Dodos Rukema, Emmanuel Niyonshuti, Olivier Sibomana, Tinte and about six girls. When they were starting out they looked for musicians they knew back then.

“After some time I left Orchestra Impala and joined a smaller band where I go for festivals and live band performances in countries like; Uganda and Kenya, in live band performing money can be got but the problem is that these days because of the commemoration period it is not the right time for hosting live band performances,” he adds.

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