You don’t have to be a doctor to be successful, says Muhiire

Today, Muhiire is a prominent fashion designer and artist in town. He is the proprietor of Inkanda House of Fashion and Art, which is located in Gikondo.
Some of Muhiire’s models. Saturday Times/Ivan Ngoboka
Some of Muhiire’s models. Saturday Times/Ivan Ngoboka

Today, Muhiire is a prominent fashion designer and artist in town. He is the proprietor of Inkanda House of Fashion and Art, which is located in Gikondo.

WHEN HE WAS still a kid, his dream was to become a medical doctor. He was so passionate about medicine that he never, at any one time, imagined ever doing something else.  But in the early stages of his adulthood, he realised that he had a terrible phobia for blood. So, he had to painfully acknowledge that with his phobia for blood, medical practice was not meant for him.

Fortunately, overtime, Patrick Muhiire was able to overcome his obsession with the career. Now his second dream was to become a respected tycoon in town. And this time he was determined to live his dream. So, after secondary school education, he enrolled for a three-year degree course in Business Management at the National University of Rwanda (NUR) just as a stride to make his newfound dream a banging reality.

On completion of his course, he immediately landed a job as the marketing manager of Dancing Pots, a prominent local organisation that aims at uplifting the lives of people in the countryside through pottery. He served with loyalty for considerable time before it occurred to him that like medicine, marketing, too, was not his calling.

However, his career life started smelling “redemption” in 2008 when he tried his luck at fashion design. Charity begins at home, so they say. True to this saying, Muhiire tested his fashion design skills during his sister’s wedding.

He reminisces:  “We went to almost all bridal shops in Kigali but we couldn’t find the designs we wanted, yet it was about a week left to the wedding day. So, when I got home, I got creative with available material and after a few days, I was able to pull off the creations, to everybody’s amazement and admiration.”

He says that after his sister’s wedding, he started receiving overwhelming orders for his designs to the extent that balancing his main job as a marketer and his new obsession with the fashion world became exceedingly difficult. So in 2009, he gave Dancing Pots the boot and decided to concentrate on his new career as a fashion designer.

This latest incident of self-discovery washed him with forgotten memories of one of his favourite childhood pastimes – plaiting mum’s hair, hand-tailoring her clothes and drawing. He was reminded that all this happened before he got “kidnapped” by the medical practice obsession. So, this inspired him to try his hand at art, too. And when he did, he wasn’t disappointed.           

Today, Muhiire is a prominent fashion designer and artist in town. He is the proud owner of Inkanda House of Fashion and Art, which is located in Gikondo. Speaking with an unusual composure and in a courteous tone, his character portrays a neat-fusion of sophistication and exceptional “down-to-earth-ness”.   

He says: “One thing I love about art and design is that I don’t have to use a lot of mental or physical effort to pull off a creation. Everything just seems to flow, which fills me with gratitude that my work also doubles as a hobby.” He adds that striking a balance between art and fashion comes naturally for him since both are related; they involve tapping into imagination and sketching.

Muhiire and his work have impacted positively on a number of souls. For example, he has more than once picked young people from the streets and recruited them as models or helped them enroll in beauty pageants where they get paid hefty sums of money, besides building reputations for themselves. He particularly looks out for people who are little-known and vulnerable.

He has also lent a hand in founding of beauty pageants in learning institutions such as Kigali Institute of science and technology (KIST), the National University of Rwanda (NUR), the School of Finance and Banking (SFB) and Kigali Health Institute (KHI). He was also one the main organisers of the 1st edition of the Kigali Fashion Week last December, which turned out a great success.    

However, despite his success, he is perturbed by the fact that most people in Rwanda don’t understand or appreciate the work of artists and fashion designers. He says that they have a misguided perception that fashion and art are for vagabonds or idlers, so most times artists and fashion designers don’t get the treatment and respect they deserve.

His other complaint is that he sometimes spends a lot of money crafting an item, only to discover after some time that some unscrupulous people around town have produced a similar product after copying his idea, which makes his works lose value.

Muhiire is not the futuristic kind of person, so he concentrates his energies on the present. According to him, it’s the present that determines the future.

And on a last note, he advises young people to concentrate on their passions and avoid falling for the demands and expectations of the public. To be successful, he argues, one doesn’t have to be a doctor or lawyer.     


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