For those who attend music concerts, official functions and international events organised in Rwanda, often a band comprised of young, fresh and vibrant looking musicians charm audiences at such events.
During music festivals such as KigaliUp last year and the New Year homecoming concert of U.S-based Rwandan star The Ben, the same group mesmerized the audience with catchy vocals and exquisite skills on music instruments.
These are none other than students of Nyundo School of Art and Music.
On Friday March 17, the first batch of graduates from the school graduated after three years of intense learning and practicing. The graduates included 29 students (24 boys and 5 girls).
The inaugural graduation ceremony was marked by talent exhibition from both finalists and continuing students, through live performances with a mix of dances, vocals and playing a variety of music instruments.
Indeed, if there was anything to prove, it was the quality and thoroughness with which the students have been trained. Continuing students performed about 22 songs in a period of only 40 minutes, with each of them proving their talents on stage, one by one.
Dr James Vuningoma, the Executive Secretary of Rwanda Academy of Languages and Culture (RALC), told graduates to use their music talent to promote the country’s image, values, culture and language.
“Music can be instrumental in promoting the country, its culture and language. So, you [graduates] should use your talent to do exactly that,” he said.
Jerome Gasana, the Workforce Development Authority (WDA) Director General, also told graduates to use their musical skills commercially like any other business because music can be a lucrative industry.
“People around the world are getting rich thanks to music. So, you should no longer think of using these skills and talent you have for fun, but how you can turn them into a big business that can benefit not only you but also the country, in general,” he told graduates.
Jacques “Mighty Popo” Murigande, the school director, said that a lot of work was put in to ensure that what is churned out is nothing but quality and talent. The school started in March 2014 with the support of WDA.
“The journey has not been an easy one. We are happy to see the pioneer graduates, which is an indicator that our efforts were not in vain. This motivates us to do even better,” he said
He noted that only one school is not enough to nurture all the talents in the country, calling for establishment of more schools to develop raw talent.
“Our school has limited capacity to admit a big number of students and it hurts me when I see many young but talented people miss out on a chance to join during the selection process. If we had more schools, they would take up this talent,” he said
Graduates speak out
Among the graduates was Neema Rehema Umutesi, one of the most talented students at the school of music. She was among the nine students at the school who got the opportunity to travel to the U.S and Canada to attend different music festivals during the study period.
“It has been a great opportunity. My parents have been supportive. They gave me whatever I wanted to do better at school and I am glad that they believed in me and allowed me to pursue a career in music,” said Umutesi.
Umutesi is also grateful to the government for considering developing talent as a core in education where as in the past, talent development was not considered key.
She has had an opportunity to back up different renowned musicians like The Ben, Yvan Buravan, Charly& Nina, Patrick Nyamitari and Ama G the Black among others.
She also shared the stage with international artistes like Skyler Jett and Joe Blake during the KigaliUp Festival and also performed for dignitaries on several international conferences held in Rwanda.
The Rubavu-based school enrolled 360 students this year to pursue different art studies.
Of the 360 students, 76 are attending music classes where they get lectures on music history, basic music instruments, music entrepreneurship and copyright rules.