FEATURE : Comedy slowly but surely picking up in Rwanda

A lady came up to me on the street and pointed at my suede jacket. ‘You know a cow was murdered for that jacket?’ she sneered. I replied in a psychotic tone, ‘I didn’t know there were any witnesses. Now I’ll have to kill you too.” That is one of the many hilarious stand-up comedy lines that have left people with tears of laughter in their eyes. 
One of Atome’s comic faces
One of Atome’s comic faces

A lady came up to me on the street and pointed at my suede jacket. ‘You know a cow was murdered for that jacket?’ she sneered.

I replied in a psychotic tone, ‘I didn’t know there were any witnesses. Now I’ll have to kill you too.” That is one of the many hilarious stand-up comedy lines that have left people with tears of laughter in their eyes. 

Another line which was directed to journalists went …’Please, if you ever see me getting beaten up by the police, please, put your video camera down and help me’.

There are lots of other rib-cracking moments that many people are enjoying today courtesy of the new style of comedy that has graced the world.

He gallantly stood up when everyone else was sited and took up the floor which was previously used by leaders who had been addressing a congregation which included President Paul Kagame.

Here he was dressed in the ceremonial Imbuto Foundation T-shirt. He started off by enthusiastically greeting everyone then went on with the same funny antics and hilarious lines.

The content seemed not coherent but he connected the whole show jumping from one topic to another in a way that made everyone laugh hysterically.

He started off with an attempt of making the audience realise how we venture into difficult voyages by speaking foreign languages like French and English. He seemed to be advising people to speak the local language.

From there he trickled to development and how people in villages express themselves when asked to report on how they are impacted by government programs. Anyone who could perceive the language he was using couldn’t help laughing.

Though I knew him by only his stage name of Atome, I came to discover that he is called Diogène Ntarindwa.
Off stage he is a composed down to earth young man who likes meeting and chatting with people. 

Another up coming stand up comedian is Mr Bean but this one doubles as a radio presenter and it is where he does his thing.

The difference between these two is that while Mr bean’s comedy is entirely to make people laugh, Atome’s comedy is more educative, and focuses on Rwanda’s social-economic and political issues.

Mid November Atome once again pulled it off when he staged a comedy show in Serena where many people including ministers and the first lady attended the show.

In this show in which Atome mimicked the Minister of Culture and sports Joseph Habineza in a way that threw people in a laughing frenzy, VIP’s paid Rwf20, 000 while the rest paid 10,000.

The theatre and film industry in Rwanda has been largely influenced by the genocide in one way or another but the advent of comedy in Rwanda attempts to melt the melancholic and timid cloud that hovers around the political and social phenomena in Rwanda.

People both in Rwanda and outside tend to view Rwanda only in the genocide perspective and many potential investors in the film industry have turned down proposals of doing comedy films reasoning that it doesn’t fit in Rwanda’s profile. This is a terrible oversight.

Eric Kabera the founder of Rwanda Cinema Centre in an earlier interview voiced this oversight saying it is wrong to have a narrow view of the Rwanda society especially centring it on the genocide at a time when it’s recovering from it.

However during a telephone interview with Kabera mid this week, he sounded optimistic and revealed that there are a number of comedy films in the pipe line and some like ‘K guy’ which depicts life of an illegal local brew (Kanyanga) smuggler are out.

“We have started doing non-genocide movies among which include Africa United which depicts the journey to the World Cup in South Africa. We have comedy movies we are working on and some are already out,” he noted.

“It doesn’t mean we have stopped doing films about our past but we have to balance it with those depicting other aspects in the society,” he added.

Kabera pointed out that he is involved in training of actors to feature in comedy movies and this will take comedy acting in Rwanda to a relatively higher level.

There are other comedians like Kanyombya who have become popular in Rwanda’s local comedy and it is visible that with these new talents coming up comedy will grow and become a source of income and entertainment its supposed to be, just like in other parts of the world.

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