“I was amazed when I first heard him imitating President Paul Kagame. I couldn’t believe it was not the President but this young man. I only realized it when I saw His Excellency sitting in the Public watching David perform.” This is how Sarah Uwizeye, 20 years, a Fourth year student at the Adventist University of Central Africa, describes David Ndahiro. He is famous for imitating the President.
Ndahiro’s celebrity moment was last year when he got a chance to perform in front of the President in person during an annual youth event at Serena Hotel, Kigali.
“After the show, the President sent someone to call me. When we met, he hugged me and laughed,” says Ndahiro with a proud smile.
Ndahiro knows that he was born in Uganda but does not exactly know his birthday. His parents died when he was young. Ndahiro was left behind under the care of his paternal uncle who later married his mother and had three other younger brothers and a sister.
They left behind a miserable life in Uganda, and in 1995 started a new life in Rwanda, the country of their ancestors.
“My uncle had joined the RPA/RPF liberation struggle in early 1990s. He died in the war. When we arrived in Rwanda, I and my siblings were placed in an orphanage called “Gakoni”. There I grew up,” remembers Ndahiro.
By the time Ndahiro left Uganda he was in Primary Four and so he proceeded to Primary Five in the Adventist school in Rwanda’s Eastern province.
“I, thereafter, joined secondary studies at APECOM College. It was a strange world for me in which I often felt inferior and isolated due to my orphanage background. That is where I started imitating the President,” explains Ndahiro.
There were a number of factors that led to his inferiority complex. He had to leave the orphanage with only a few clothes in a box because he could not afford a suitcase, like other parented students had.
“When I left for school I was given five exercise books, two pens which I was instructed to use for the whole year plus a mattress, one bed sheet and a blanket. I was quiet in class due to my poor status,” he recalls.
It took Ndahiro a year to make friends. He also started to enjoy sports like volleyball and swimming. At the same time he realized he had a talent for imitating. He entertained his classmates with his imitation of President Paul Kagame.
Ndahiro became popular in the whole school. Students in the upper classes admired him and invited him to perform during free hours. Ndahiro changed from an isolated boy to a popular figure.
“Senior five and six lads would buy me tea and food. Others bought me clothes and even a suitcase. I shifted from a shabby room to a nicer one. Life was good for me,” recalls Ndahiro.
But then Ndahiro started to have problems again. During his sixth year at school, with only two days to his final exams, he was arrested by the police.
“I stood right where the headmaster usually stood to address the school and started imitating the President. All students burst into laughter. The discipline master arrived with some police officers. I was arrested and spent one night in a police cell,” Ndahiro narrates.
The Police commander found no basis for his arrest and released him the following morning. The discipline master had threatened to expel Ndahiro but he survived expulsion after he pleaded for forgiveness. Ndahiro sat for the exams.
Unfortunately, Ndahiro’s results did not secure him a government sponsorship. Ndahiro, who had always dreamt of doing a Law course at the university, opted to join the Army. He served four years.
“During my time in the Army, I heard a rumour that the orphanage where my siblings lived, was about to be closed. This affected me greatly. I filed a demobilization request which took some months to get processed,” he says.
However, the orphanage did not close but his siblings still left the orphanage to pursue higher education.
In the meantime, Ndahiro got a job and enrolled at INILAK in 2006.
“I pursued my dream course, Law, but had to quit again because I lacked money. In 2008, I managed to enroll again at the same University,” he explains.
He is inspired to imitate the President because of the way he feels about him.
“I like him very much and I am inspired by his words,” Ndahiro explains adding that President Kagame is his role model. And that he would like one day to be a Parliamentarian.
The Minister of Youth Protais Mitali is a fan of Ndahiro.
“The young man has a brilliant talent. The only problem, is that in our country, we treat it with less value. If he is enabled he can achieve remarkable progress.” Says Mitali.
Ndahiro currently works with TRUSCOM Company that deals with cleaning, construction and general merchandise. He has been performing his imitations for fun but considers developing it into a profession.
The charming and courageous Ndahiro cherishes especially two things in his life. The first one was the surprising permission to leave the Army at his young age. The other one was meeting with someone who knew his father. The man shared stories with Ndahiro about his father’s life and death. Ndahiro recalls his mother’s last words as the saddest moment in his life.
She said, “My children love GOD and live with HIM”.