Meet Tushabe, a passionate saxophonist

Many instrumentalists and instrument lovers will agree that the saxophonists are not quite as popular and the number of saxophonists in this country are not that many.
Stella Tushabe plays the saxophone mainly at church, weddings or for friends. / Sam Ngendahimana
Stella Tushabe plays the saxophone mainly at church, weddings or for friends. / Sam Ngendahimana

Many instrumentalists and instrument lovers will agree that the saxophonists are not quite as popular and the number of saxophonists in this country are not that many.

28-year-old Stella Tushabe is one of the few saxophone players the local music industry has been blessed to have.

Tushabe had never, in her life, dreamed of being an instrumentalist. At least not until the age of 23, when a beautifully played song, ‘The one he kept for me’, by Maurette Brown Clark, sparked her love for the instrument.

“The introduction of the song starts with the saxophone sound and it’s so beautiful. When I listened to it, I just told myself whatever this is, I have to learn it,” she says.

Though she had a strong desire to learn the instrument, Tushabe couldn’t afford it.

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Tushabe says she doesn’t get as much time to play her saxophone due to other work commitments. / Sam Ngendahimana

In 2014, however, her uncle who lives in the US came to her rescue.

“I asked my uncle to buy me the saxophone, which shocked him, because he knew I didn’t know how to play it. It’s amazing how he believed in me and sent it. When he sent it, I just looked at it and didn’t know what to do with it or even assemble it. It’s such complicated instrument and didn’t know how to go about it,” she recalls.

To accomplish her dream, she wrote on social site Kigali Life requesting for a saxophone teacher. Soon enough Kigali’s saxophone maestro, Herbert Rock ,was able to train her.

Her first public performance was at a wedding in August 2015, where she played the same song that drew her love for the instrument. Two years down the road, Tushabe has been playing the Saxophone mainly at church, daily devotions at work and at her friends’ functions whenever she gets achance to.

A marketer at Urwego bank, she says that she doesn’t play the instrument as often as she should because she doesn’t get enough time to practise with other bands, due to the demands at work.

“It’s a very expensive instrument because I have to spend around Rwf200,000 to buy accessories alone. It requires a lot of practice and emotional attachment and at the end of the day, the saxophone accessories, like the reed, can be worn out,” she says.

Her biggest challenge, however, has been people not believing in her, simply because “I am a girl.”

“Some of these comments from people can easily break you but I’ve chosen to be strong. I get many negative comments from people, who say the saxophone is for either men or white girls. It’s disheartening how your own people can want to pull you down,” she says.

She hopes to get more time to play the saxophone more for the fun bit of it, but also make it her profession. Music for her, she says, is addictive and she has plans of learning several other instruments.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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