Ntirenganya on the journey of the Salax Awards

Emma Claudine Ntirenganya is the chairperson of Ikirezi Group that is responsible for organising Salax Awards, which recognise Rwandan artists based on their annual performance.
Emma Claudine Ntirenganya. / Courtesy
Emma Claudine Ntirenganya. / Courtesy

Emma Claudine Ntirenganya is the chairperson of Ikirezi Group that is responsible for organising Salax Awards, which recognise Rwandan artists based on their annual performance. She is also one of the pioneer journalists of Radio Salux, whose passion is contributing towards improving the lives of Rwandans, particularly girls and women. The mother of two talked to Sunday Magazine’s Sharon Kantengwa on the journey and impact of the Salax Awards.

Take us back to when you started the Salax Awards

During my career as a journalist, my colleagues and I thought about creating something which could contribute towards reviving Rwandan music, especially after the unfortunate events that came with the 1994 Genocide. We created the Salax Awards to celebrate local artistes that produce inspirational music.

How has the journey been like so far?

The Salax Awards have made great impact on the musicians, organisers, media and other actors. For musicians, Salax Awards have enabled many like Tom Close, Miss Jojo, The Ben, Urban boys, Kamichi and Knowless, to name a few, to gain confidence, but also for the society to recognise their value.

We have also had some lows because of limited funding. For example, we are still not able to fix a date for the awards because we have not yet been able to secure funds lasting more than one round. We are not yet able to give significant financial prizes to accompany the awards, yet it’s one of our visions. Despite this challenging journey, Salax Awards is still alive and positioned to achieve greater results. We are confident that the future is brighter for us as organisers as well as for artists and other actors in the music industry.

What impact have the awards had so far?

The music industry has moved to another level. More people today appreciate modern music production just like we envisioned when starting the Salax Awards. We have given out more than 70 trophies, which has uplifted many socially and financially.

Why were the awards scheduled for last year postponed?

We postponed the awards because of the venue. We had scheduled them for December 23, which coincided with the festive season. Many hotels had been fully booked. We decided to move it ahead so that it is not constrained by the venue factor. We are now in talks with partners in order to secure the venue in advance before communicating the exact date.

Some people have been in disagreement with the results of some nominations; what considerations are in place to clear that?

Actually, our nomination criterion is clear. But those people’s reactions are in line with the challenge of managing expectations I alluded to earlier. We are in an industry that is highly emotive and it requires a lot of self-management. Giving awards means deserving ones get them and those who do not qualify do not. To improve Salax Awards, we are continually tightening the nomination criteria. This is in line with the objective I noted earlier--to promote excellence. We will soon publish the criteria on our website.

What are your final remarks?

I encourage the artistes to continue working hard because their work is very important to the Rwandan society. Music heals, comforts and makes people happy. That’s very important in our everyday life. I encourage Rwandans to continue to support their favourite artistes and showing them gratitude for their amazing work by continually voting them when occasions like Salax Awards come.

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