Carving career from mimicking

Monday January 20 2020

Julius Chita during one of his Emceeing gigs in

Julius Chita during one of his Emceeing gigs in Kigali. PHOTO | ANDREW. I KAZIBWE 

ANDREW I KAZIBWE
By ANDREW I KAZIBWE
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Gone are the days when mimicking was seen as a mere joke and fantasy to crack a joke.

Julius William Niyitegeka, 23, knows too well that this can be a ladder to riches.

Niyitegeka is a rising comic star, whose flourishing career is pegged on mimicking a talent, which has not only wowed many, but led him to dominate media space and boost to his current Emceeing career.

Born in Rulindo district in Northern Province, Niyitegeka, who is known as Julius Chita is the second born among five children.

His early life kicked off with schooling at Ecole Primaire Tumba Public at Rulindo, then later joined Ecole Primaire Gisozi 1 in Kigali.

He later at Groupe Scolaire Saint Famille before pursuing secondary education at College Saint Marie Reine Muhanga, College Saint Marie Reine de Kabgyayi at Gitarama and finally at St Joseph Integrated College, Nyamirambo in Kigali, where he pursued public works as an option.

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Currently, he is a second year mass communication student at Christian University of Rwanda.

Niyitegeka’s journey onto stage kicked off in 2005, while in primary school, where he was casts in plays.

“It was in a Christmas play, where I acted as Jesus,” he said.

He started being a mimic in secondary school, while at Kabgyayi where he could mimic the Monsignor Smaragde Mbonyintege, the head bishop of Kabgyayi Parish, other priests and teachers, “It was at a school day in 2012, when I performed at that function,” he recalls.

Mimicking these, he coincided them with various prominent Rwandan journalists like Ufitemana Marie Maurice of RTV, Deejay Adams of City Radio, Jean Butoyi and Francois Kanimba, the then Minister of Finance among others.

2014 paved way for his mimicking career, where for the first time; he performed in front of masses during musician Tom Close’s Album launch at Kigali Serena Hotel.

“It was scary, sckeptical at first, but it was of great encouragement from the audience,” Niyitegeka said.

Following this event, more followed, where he captured the attention of many including media, as he imitated several renowned Rwandan celebrities like musicians and various radio presenters But this came with caution from family as his parents were strict about his academics.

“They were so sckeptical about the mixing of performances with school, which was tricky,” he said.

Imitating more than 40 personalities including Uncle Austin, Eli Joe Rutamu, Meddy, The Ben, Nizzo of Urban Boys, Bulldog, Pacson, Theoneste Dusingizwe, Claude Kabengera, Ally Soudy, Mike Karangwa, Lucky Ninzeymana, Ziggy 55, Jerald Mbabazi and Michelle Iradukunda, Niyitegeka twists voice intonation and mood to identically match the original, hence convincing many into wondering how he does it.

In 2016, together with Nathan Mugisha, a colleague, they created Chita Magic Connect, a show which basically featured imitation of celebrities “I picked up interest due to the fact that I was motivated through performances,” he recalls.

In the space where he pioneered a new art, which was less known in Rwanda, and among the entertainment scene, it wasn’t an easy one to promote, which explains why he mostly ventured into imitation of renowned radio personalities, actors and musicians.

“Passion is a stronger thing, that with persistence, one can reach further,” he states.

Niyitegeka’s entry into broadcast media started when he took part in the Speciale Vacance, a talent competition by Isango Na Muzika, a radio programme on Isango Radio in 2014.

This contest, which attracted 32 youth, was successfully won by Niyitegeka, who then introduced his imitation slots featured alongside live radio programmes.

“This went on for some time and depended upon the time allocated by presenters then,” he said.

He further worked for other radio stations since 2015, among them City Radio, Flash Fm and Contact Fm.

In line with being relevant, Niyitegeka further ventured into Vlogging, where set up Chita Magic, a YouTube channel with currently has 42,000 subscribers, which features society and life stories In 2017, he performed at the Kigali International Comedy Festival, a popular comedy festival.

He further performed at the 2018 Seka Fest among other shows.

Here, he further adopted the Emceeing career, which today he does, especially at wedding ceremonies.

Niyitegeka’s mimicking career clashes with his emceeing roles, where he is contacted for gigs, which he has already been booked in advance by weddings.

“I turn down most mimicking gigs, since they appear late, and with little pay,” he explains.

As part of his imitation art, Niyitegeka hopes to grow to a greater stage performer, who can be related to regionally and internationally.

Motivated by Kenyan performances at the Churchill Show, Niyitegeka hopes to hit greater stages too.