He’s soft spoken. It’s almost hard to hear him over the music coming from the school chapel. Once he starts to display his art work, it’s clear that he doesn’t have to be loud. His talent speaks for him.
With nothing but a pencil and a simple art book, Divin Carel Mugisha has made impressive replicas of different landmarks and personalities using photos from the internet. He has drawn Bob Marley, the renowned reggae artiste (RIP), the Taj Mahal palace of India, the residential house of the American actor Ice Cube and many others.
As Fadala Musa, an English teacher, proudly displays a portrait made by Mugisha, he remarks, “This is the most accurate depiction anyone has ever made of my face!”
An unbreakable spirit
It’s easy to assume that a 19-year-old who displays such an impeccable artist skill must have had made many years of practice. Mugisha is quick to dispel this notion. “I have loved drawing for as long as I can remember but I have never received any sort of training,” he says.
Although his parents have gone to extra lengths to provide for him academic exposure, Mugisha says that his interest in Art did not register well with them since it is not a mainstream career.
Boniface Onyango, the Principal of Riviera High School, believes that this attitude, which is displayed by most African parents, is responsible for talent export in Africa. “We are not doing enough to retain talent. When someone has a unique skill, it’s only a matter of time before they leave the country because there are better opportunities out there,” he explains.
An S.6 student, Mugisha’s combination is Physics, Mathematics and Computer. His academic life is his priority. He only draws in his free time. However, he says that the lack of opportunity and lack of inspiration have not deterred his love for art.
“I draw every chance I get. I draw during the day when I don’t have lessons to attend. I draw during prep time. Sometimes I draw when I’m chatting with my friends,” he muses.
A self-marketing artist
Initially drawing his strength and inspiration only from his love for art, Mugisha now enjoys the support of his fellow students and the school administration.
He now has a slot on the school notice board where his drawings are displayed. Onyango thought to free up space for the talented student because “this is our little way of encouraging him to pursue his talent.”
Before that, Mugisha’s way of marketing himself was drawing portraits of his fellow students and drawing the things they challenged him to draw. “Do you charge for your drawings?” “No. Hahaha. I see it is an opportunity for me to practice,” says the young Burundian.
Although he has a calm and humble aura, Mugisha is keen on creating awareness about his artistic skill. He says that he is aware of the fact that artists only become successful when people know about their craft and that he wants nothing less than to become a renowned artist.
An inspiration to others
Mugisha is hell-bent on being a successful artist. He has reservations because he has limited knowledge and exposure to the industry. Still, his fellow students continuously draw inspiration from his unbreakable spirit.
Yvan le Chercheur, an S.6 student and Mugisha’s friend says, “When Divin sets a goal, he works towards it. As a dancer, this encourages me to stay committed to my talent.”
Similarly, Phionah Teta, an S6 student says that because of Mugisha, she has been encouraged to explore her talents and let everyone know about it.
Didier Ngabo, another student commends Mugisha on being a self-marketer; something he says will take him far. It is this very aspect that Tracy Tata an S3 student finds admirable. “Asked how much Mugisha’s art pieces should cost, Tata smiles and says, “Not less than Rwf100,000. He is very creative.”