From spoken word forum to music recording studio

Wednesday January 13 2021
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Tuyisenge with some of the musical acts during one of the sessions at the Umushanana Records in Kimironko. PHOTO | ANDREW. I KAZIBWE


To arts enthusiasts and particularly poetry, Olivier Tuyisenge alias Umusizi Tuyisenge is a name making waves for his craft. The artist has lately embarked on music production.

It is a Wednesday mid-morning when I make my way to Umushanana Records, a music recording facility that is located a few metres from Mount Meru petrol station in Kimironko, a suburb in Kigali.

Just like most studios, it is booked, with a recording artist closely paying attention to Tuyisenge, who is directing him what lyrics to sing. Unlike before, this is happening to be one of Tuyisenge’s new office activities he is seen enjoying.

Rarely had poets moved beyond their stage spaces. The few have been seen balancing their careers between film and theatre, but Tuyisenge stands out for his shift into entrepreneurship.

Venturing into the music studio business was inspired by his unpleasant experience as a traditional artist. Just like any other artist, Tuyisenge is one of the very few acts who a few years ago took a bold step and embarked on booking for studio time to record his poems.

Here, he had a taste of the pain, “I had witnessed the struggle that many talented traditional artists were going through while seeking to record their songs,” he said. Tuyisenge recalls some incidences when his booking was cancelled and replaced by a secular musician, who producers deemed holding urgent projects.


This showed him the reality of how traditional acts weren’t of priority to most recording studios. Having invested over Rwf4 million in equipment which included speakers, traditional drums, piano, guitars, and other traditional instruments, he doesn’t regret the venture.

Tuyisenge takes pride in his first commissioned project dubbed Impundu Zangye, a collaborative song project by Ange and Pamella featuring the legendary traditional musician Cecile Kayirebwa, which was a success. To him, this was a mileage, which not only lured in more traditional musical acts but also an earning. Other prominent musical acts that have been recorded from the studio included Masamba Intore, Deo Munyakazi and Ibrahim Cyusa.

Tuyisenge affirms how projects by traditional musicians have been successful in terms of revenue. Known through performances of poems which include Inda, Ndaye Rwantambi, Ntiti, Ngoga Ingaji, Nkundira Ngutume featuring Natasha Muhoza, Tuyisenge is also a writer to some musical projects, while his craft as a poet stands out for his unique delivery in Kinyarwanda language.

With his poetry career spanning over 15 years, after completing his advanced level education at Group Scolaire Kigeme A Secondary school, in Nyamagabe District, where he studied physics, chemistry, and mathematics, he recruited as a theatre writer and director by Radio and TV 10 before his admission to Mount Kenya University for a pharmacy course in 2015.

Tuyisenge recalls how 2015 exposed him to more experiences as he decided of putting his studies on hold to pursue his poetry passion. The same year he joined Transpoesis, a poetry competition, where after winning the Nyararumaga Award, he became a performer and arrtistic director for the competition, which further motivated him into following his path.