8 November 2012

Rwanda: Inside the Dark Meet the Girl Behind the Switch - CFM's Dj Makeda World of Witchdoctors

When you go out to most dance clubs in Rwanda, you expect to see a young man, wearing baggy clothes, playing the latest hits, encouraging you to shake your bones. However, if you go to a few clubs, you will spy a young, beautiful, frizzy-haired DJ doing HER thing. Makeda, 25, is her name.

Born in the US and raised and educated in Jamaica, Makeda Mahadeo 25, daughter of the Aloys Karahamuheto aka Bongoman and Ann Marie Witter, holds a degree in Literature.

During her 2010 summer holiday to Rwanda, she discovered that, despite searching, she couldn't find a dance club that played the kind of music that she loved.

"When I had just come to Rwanda I often went out but everything was just boring. It was only until one day I asked my friends, who owned DMH club, to allow me to DJ just once a week. The night is still memorable to me, not because of my own music selection, but because of support I got from the audience that night. I realised that I shared a lot with people who were in the club. That became my first step as a DJ", she recalls.

Since Makeda didn't have a music industry background, yet it was something she was interested in pursuing, she travelled to Nairobi where her knowledge was sharpened by frequenting different occasions and events. One of her father's friends exposed Makeda to different styles and taught her the basics of mixing.

When she came back to Rwanda she started working as a DJ at the Legacy Wine Bar at Mille Collines, a gig that she quit after a while. Presently, she MC's at different events and does a radio show at Contact FM, called the 'Switch', which airs Monday through Friday starting from 1pm to 3 pm. She is also a founding member of 'K-Team', an events management venture.

When she started her DJ gig, Makeda faced sexism; many people refused to believe that a lady could spin, but as time went on she proved the naysayers wrong.

"The so-called challenge of being a female DJ gave me publicity because many people would come to find out who that lady behind the music was. They always ended up enjoying themselves and, invariably, next time they would invite more friends to attend shows I was performing in", she says laughing.

Makeda refused to be held back by cultural constraints, especially because her parents and other family members supported what she is doing. "My father was an open minded Daddy. Whenever I would approach him with good plans about life he would just give meguidelines about life and he would give you his blessing", she remembers. "Things have changed; we need to focus on future", she says

The simple advice Makeda has for her friends and fans is to go where their hearts direct. "When you start thinking of what people may think of you, it's your future you are ruining. All the while, the people you are trying to please are enjoying the style of life they are living in", concludes.

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