The price of being a celebrity - Rwandan stars speak out

Of course who doesn’t want to live the glamorous life of a celebrity? Who doesn’t like recognition, and to receive VIP treatments, wear designer clothes, appear on red carpets, sign autographs and rub shoulders with fellow A-lists? Unfortunately, sometimes roses have thorns and sometimes they seriously hurt. Find out how!
Jean-Paul Samputu
Jean-Paul Samputu

Of course who doesn’t want to live the glamorous life of a celebrity? Who doesn’t like recognition, and to receive VIP treatments, wear designer clothes, appear on red carpets, sign autographs and rub shoulders with fellow A-lists? Unfortunately, sometimes roses have thorns and sometimes they seriously hurt. Find out how!

While there are people who would die to be world famous, despite knowing that there are a lot of negative things involved in that, that doesn’t apply to everyone in this business.


For example, we don’t think that the likes of Lindsay Lohan, Kanye West, Ryan Gosling, Robert Pattinson, Chris Brown and Britney Spears enjoy the parts [of fame], as opposed to the other way around. And we totally get that, after all who wants to be harassed by the paparazzi everywhere you go and to make your privacy a public affair?   


Perhaps if there was less paparazzi and media madness, maybe these celebs could actually be more at ease going out in public. This way, they could also have more opportunities to interact with fans in public without feeling so pressured. 


Being in the limelight can be very exciting, but sometimes the novelty wears off, and the whole business becomes very frustrating. However, this doesn’t only happen to showbiz personalities in the developed countries because everywhere celebrities are confronted with pressure from the public, yet they also deserve to live a normal life.

The New Times caught up with a few local celebrities and this is what they had to say about the challenges they face regarding their status.


Jean-Paul Samputu is a musician, songwriter and peace activist. He observes that despite the beauty of being famous, it affects one’s normal lifestyle. 

“Can you imagine I was recently invited to a club by a friend but when I got there, I was unable to be with him because I was flocked by so many people who wanted to take photos with me. 

“I took over 50 photos and was very exhausted but people still wanted more and I could not say no to them because they’re my fans and this was an opportunity for them to interact with me.”

Samputu says this prompted him to stop going to clubs. He added that he also had to forego using motorcycles as a means of transport, despite his love for motorbikes because of his status in public.


Tom Close is a renowned R&B star and Primus Guma Guma Super Star 2011 winner.

The Salax Award winner says: “I miss my old life sometimes but nothing much has changed. I remember I used to enjoy going to cheap movie cinemas and watching movies translated in Kinyarwanda but now I go to Century Cinema at KCT.

‘‘The most frustrating thing when you’re a celebrity, you can’t live an ordinary lifestyle. For example, when I walk downtown, I hear people whispering to each, “Isn’t that Tom Close? Have you seen him? What is here doing here….as if I’m not allowed to walk in town like other people.”


Denis Nsanzamahoro, aka Rwasa, is a film star-cum-journalist.  

‘‘For over ten years now, I have been into the film industry and this surely makes it hard for me to leave a place unnoticed. 

“When you are in this business, all you have to do is not complicate yourself. For example, I have a car but it doesn’t stop me from walking around town and sometimes, if necessary, I grab a motorcycle. 

“However, I can’t board public taxis because I am not sure whether I would enjoy everyone in the taxi looking at me…including the taxi driver.” 


Charlotte Umulisa is a model and head of the modeling department at Ikobe Beauty Company.

She says that society does not understand their profession. 

Umulisa explains that with her kind of work, people always ask a lot of questions which is annoying some times. For example, someone asks you why you do what you do and you wonder whether they can’t come up with sensible questions.


Aurore Mutesi Kayibanda doubles as Miss Rwanda and Miss Pan Africa Music Festival 2013 (FESPAM). 

The 21-year-old is a second year civil engineering student at the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology.

She says: “I am now a public figure and there are obviously very many things that I used to do before I was crowned Miss Rwanda that I can’t do now. Some of these things include not hanging out in any pubic place, buy clothes or items from the hawkers on the street and going to nightclubs, among other things.

“I am supposed to conduct myself in a more professional manner and be exemplary in whatever I do because there are very many people out there who look up to me.” 

The beauty queen adds; “though I was famous even before I became Miss Rwanda, as a model, the attention I receive as a Miss Rwanda is too much. I am always going to be stopped whenever I am out, whether on an official event or when I am out with my family or friends. People want to greet me and take photos with me and sometimes others want me to get involved with their projects.

“Sometimes when I want to buy something from the supermarket or elsewhere, I will ask someone to go there and buy it for me. However, we have to expect that because once you’re a celebrity there are certain things you’re obliged to avoid for the sake of your status.”


Aline Gahongayire is a gospel musician, actress and fashion designer.

She says…”Sometimes it's not cool to be on this side of the world. I remember before I rose to fame, I would use public transportation to visit my friends but now I found myself unable to use public means. Instead, I would take a cab if my car has a mechanical problem. 

“The moment you’re seen in the bus park, people will begin staring at you, calling you and sometimes come to hug you.

“There are even restaurants I used to go to that I can’t go to now, unless I am with a group of my old friends  just to disguise myself. 

“I still miss that food, especially in Nyamirambo and I miss buying clothes, shoes and bags from the vendors in town. I really don’t like to be the centre of attention yet sometimes you have nothing to do but only to smile to whoever calls your name”.


DJ Kadir is a renowned DJ and he has been in the business for more than ten years.  

Although DJ Kadir doesn’t consider himself as a celebrity, he confesses that sometimes he doesn’t like the attention he gets from people, especially girls in the nightclub when he is spinning away.


Francis Iraguha is a fashion designer and CEO of Francis Zahabu Ltd. He says that he enjoys being a celebrity in the fashion scene, though some times it’s too demanding and he has to work extra harder.

“In order to earn this household name you have to be unique in whatever you do. As a fashion designer, I have to be devoted to fashion clothing and be able to create unique and high fashion. When I attend an event, people pay attention to what I am wearing. So, I have to always be very particular while picking what to wear before I leave the house to avoid any fashion disaster”.

Subscribe to The New Times E-Paper

You want to chat directly with us? Send us a message on WhatsApp at +250 788 310 999    


Follow The New Times on Google News