He is a former street child that did all sorts of bad things associated with street life, including sniffing petrol. However, it has since been a miraculous makeover as Théo Uwiringiyimana is now one of Rwanda’s finest afro-fusion gospel vocalists.
He started singing at the age of 10 in church choirs and made his mark in the music scene in 2006, with his trademark hit ‘Bose babireba’.
Uwiringiyimana describes his music: “The soul of my music isn’t so much in the words; it’s in the way of singing.”
The song ‘Ikifuzo’, which was a hit like ‘Bose babireba’ is Uwiringiyimana’s first solo track. In the song, the singer-song-writer conveys a message of hope and comfort to needy and troubled people.
“I see the problems that many Rwandans suffer from and I can’t do anything (about it). It’s the reason I decided to sing so that I could give them hope that God is able and will protect them even in trouble,’ Uwiringiyimana said.
He added: “I have been down that road and I know how it feels.
The song ‘Bose babireba’ is about my past, really, and what is like to be brought up from very poor and unsustainable circumstances.”
The song talks about real issues in the society and a key song of his debut album.
His malleable voice is enriched by his talent, resulting in a unique, poignant sound which is velvety with subtle harmonies, yet also raw with groovy rhythms.
Born in 1981 in Ngoma District, East of Rwanda, Uwiringiyimana grew up alongside three siblings (a brother and sister), but his brother died when he was still young.
At the age of 18, Uwiringiyimana was forced to settle in Kigali as a street urchin – (Mayibobo).
“Life wasn’t easy, especially after the death of our mother because thereafter, our father disowned us,” Uwiringiyimana narrated.
“My sister and I had to look for the means to survive. She was adopted by our neighbour and since they could not take me in as well, I decided to come to Kigali and forge a livelihood,” he added.
While in Kigali, Uwiringiyimana met a Good Samaritan, who accommodated him in a bathroom, which was initially a toilet, but later he decided to go on street.
“I did all sorts of bad stuff street children do, including sniffing petrol and eating from dustbins,” he said.
Uwiringiyimana said: “Street life wasn’t better either. So I decided to start selling small items, like candies and matchboxes, before I ventured into music as a professional career.”
In Rwanda, the 30-year-old has already made an impact both in the gospel and pop music scene as a solo performer, sharing the stage with renowned musicians.
Uwiringiyimana has 60 singles and six albums and each album has 10 tracks. Some of his songs include: ‘Isoko imarinyota’, ‘Ntawebitabera’, ‘Ingoma yawe niyogere niyabana babantu yarogeye’ and ‘Mukunziwange.’
He intends to place his great wealth of experience at the disposal of all that desire to improve their music skills.
Uwiringiyimana, a resident of Gasabo District, is married to Chantelle Mushimiyeimana and they have three children together.