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Meet Niyokwizerwa, the visually-impaired music sensation

While for most artistes the journey to the top is a long one, it took just one song for 19-year-old Bosco Niyokwizerwa to make a breakthrough on the music scene, the visually impaired artiste releasing his first song that went on to dominate headlines despite his disability.

His song ‘Ubigenza ute’, loosely translated as ‘How do you do it?’ asks question to people who make it in life and simply forget the people they struggle with in the past. By press time, the song was nearly gaining 218,986 views in just a few days.

Niyokwizerwa believes the song sent people’s tongues wagging not just because of his magic voice and the melody of the song but also the message it carries.

“I drew inspiration from people who leave their villages to look for a better life in town but they immediately forget where they came from.”

“The song asks people questions on how they behave in a similar situations. I just don’t need them to give me an answer but to think about it and get the answer for themselves,” he told The New Times in an exclusive interview.

The Kicukiro-born singer, the fourth in a family of eight, lost his sight at 12 after his parents struggled to afford malaria treatment due to financial constraints, leading to blindness in the processs.

Niyokwizerwa says music is part of his life. Courtesy

However, visual impairment did not stop him from embarking on music having realised that he can make the best out of his singing talent which he had from his very young age. When you ask him how he does music when he is visually-impaired, his adage is disability is not inability.

“The way I do music is normal like any other artiste because losing some parts of the body can’t be a problem as long as you have the brain to think and the heart to do something right,”

“It does not take any other effort. With help and support, I am able to make the best out of my talent with discipline to make sure that what I am doing makes sense. That is how I am going about it,” he says.

His skills on the guitar are impressive but what is more amazing is that he learnt playing guitar from his Burundian friend three years after he became visually impaired. His plan was to grow and develop his talent to another level.

His talent attracted the attention of his now manager and showbiz journalist Irene Mulindahabi who decided to take him to ‘Uno Music Studio’ to record his first song ‘Ubigenza ute’ which he released earlier this week.

From the day it was released, the song became a hit thanks to an inspiring message it carries besides the melody it is produced with.

“I can’t explain how amazing it is for people to receive my music in a positive way. I think they are touched by the song because the message it carries relates to their lives. I have a feeling the message in the song is inspirational for many,”

He says no one inspired him to do music but the life he and his parents went through did. He can just draw lessons from American singer Stevie Wonder, his favourite singer.

“I am inspired by my life experience because I endured a lot of difficulties since I was born but, at least now, I can feel the hope that tomorrow will be better than yesterday,” he says.

With his first song now trending, Niyokwizerwa now sets his sights on embarking on a professional music career as his management is now looking to take him to a music school to develop his talent and professional skills at the same time.

“I want to do music the professional way because I have the talent but I need to study so I get what it takes to do formidable things in music. With the package, I will be able to do music that inspires not only Rwandans but people from across the world and,” he says.

Message to PWDs

What hurts Niyokwizerwa most is that he can’t see his parents with his own eyes. That remains his biggest wish in life though it seems impossible. However, he is confident there is a better future despite his visual impairment.

He urged persons with disabilities to make the best of their talents because disability is not inability.

“I am sure, despite disability, we still have the brain and confidence to achieve big things. I encourage fellow persons with disabilities to be focused and use their brain and confidence to show what they are capable of and I believe there is hope for a better future if they don’t give up. Focus on your purpose then everything will be alright,” he said.

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