As an Art and Graphic Designer, Mukama S Damaur shares an intimate relationship with the local music industry. So much so that many people have actually come to believe he is a musician.
This view is further perpetuated by the fact that Sadu Vybz, his artistic moniker actually sounds more like the stage name of a Pop or Dancehall musician. Well, he is anything but.
So why did he choose to ditch Mukama S Damaur, his given name, for the more fancy Sadu Vybz, I ask the 21 year old:
He starts off with a chuckle, then retorts that; “well, when I was a young boy I used to love the art work of one of the best African video directors, Sasha Vybz from Uganda and I grew up liking his work, that’s how the name came up.”
His graphic design journey started way back, as a little boy growing up in Kigali:
“I used to play a lot with Paint software, drawing terrible things you know, and I didn’t know that one time it would grow from that into a lifetime career. I kept searching more about it by watching tutorials and behind-the-scenes because I was so curious to know how they made all those great movies and cartoons and definitely I didn’t know that one day I could be in a position of a graphic designer.”
Yet today, he is just that –something that was a distant pipe dream while growing up.
He describes graphic design as; “the art and practice of planning and projecting ideas and experiences with visual and textual content”:
“Actually this form of communication can be physical or virtual, and may include images, words, or graphic forms.”
As Sadu Vybz, his name is synonymous with the monthly Kigali Jazz Junction that happens every end of month at the Kigali Serena Hotel. Vybz is a senior Graphic Designer at RG Consult Inc, the company behind the monthly jazz gathering.
“He is a very humble guy, and very talented too,” remarked Remmy Lubega, the Executive Director of RG Consult. “All that he was waiting for was someone to believe in him, and for me it was a new experience tapping into the unknown.”
With that job description, he is in charge of crafting all the promotional materials that go into creating visibility and hype for the jazz concerts.
Ordinarily this is a behind-the-scenes job whose architect would have lurked in the shadows, but Sady Vybz’s story is an exception. Somehow his name resonates with the jazz event, and reverberates across the local music scene.
It therefore came as no surprise when, at the September 2016 edition of the Jazz Junction, he received an award certificate in honour of his outstanding graphic design work from former Ugandan High Commissioner to Rwanda, Richard Kabonero.
Sadu Vybz is the first born in a family of three boys that all share the father’s name –Mukama. He attended SOS Primary School in Kigali, before proceeding to EFOTEC Kanombe secondary school for his O-levels. He moved to SOS high school for A-levels, where the graphic designer in him reared its head once more:
Upon completing senior six in 2013, he embarked on his first job at a studio called Color Play in the Southern Province. He quit in 2015 to enroll at the Adventist University of Central Africa (AUCA) where he did Software Engineering, but soon relocated to the University of Kigali and switched to a new course – Information Technology.
While at university, he landed his second job at a company called Rabya Ltd, and credits this place for giving him a core foundation in graphic design.
“This is where I got all the career basics, experienced new materials and many other things until I found not only the job experience but also my talent and I had a great passion in it.”
His professional portfolio is a buffet of colorful corporate brands, having worked on projects for Bralirwa, Skol, ENGEN, BPR, Kigali Serena Hotel, Qatar Airways, and KLM, among others.
So what does his typical work routine look like?
“I love Mondays”, he starts; “mostly because the day flies by in a flash. On a given day, during the early hours you will find me speaking to the clients, finding out – proactively – what their priorities are for the week, meeting with the team for half an hour to communicate the clients’ needs and organizing the team schedules around the client’s priorities.
I do this on Monday so that the rest of the week is well organized and we can effectively use our team’s time in exceeding client’s expectations and avoid Friday evening surprises. The rest of the week goes into delivering the product(s), updating the status with the client, answering emails and calls from our global teams,” he explains, adding:
“My role involves extensive management responsibilities and staying organized is not an option.”
“As long as you have passion and targets in what you are doing everything will be gorgeous. The secrets I’ve learnt is first to be passionate, respect your work and love what you are doing. I think with these you can find what you want to achieve in any carrier you are in.”
Ask him what else he does, apart from graphic design, and his answer will surprise you:
“I am also a philosophical art photographer and I play cricket,” he says simply.
He started playing cricket while still a student at EFOTEC, where he was in the school cricket team, and later in Kicukiro with some of his school cricket-mates. He even attended a recruitment camp for selection to the national cricket team.
Before venturing into graphic design, he was a roving wedding and party photographer.
“I liked not just to take a picture but I always wanted to take an image that I will write a story about, an image with meaning, not just a pose,” he explains the philosophical art photographer side of him.
He would like to see many more young people with passion for art and graphic design take after him, although he still acknowledges the prevailing bottlenecks:
“Here in Rwanda we still suffer from a lack of equipment and great graphic design institutes and personally I wouldn’t have gotten t where I am today without searching for things on my own and discovering more online. Still, I’m sure that if we had more schools and advanced trainings in this country perhaps I would be on another level.”
He also decries the low levels of trust in local graphic designers by prospective clients:
“Most of the companies still believe that we don’t know anything, in fact that’s why it’s kind of hard and rare to hire you when you are competing with someone else from another country and that’s true because how can someone believe that you are good yet you are competing with someone who studied the same thing when you didn’t?”