Rwanda Focus (Kigali)

Rwanda: Anita Pendo, the Four-in-One Entertainer

When it comes to the entertainment industry, there's a great variety of jobs. Some are radio presenters, others are DJs; there are MCs at ceremonies, and there are actors. Given the embryonic nature of some of those entertainment areas, it's not difficult to combine two of such activities, but to be involved in all four must be quite a challenge. Yet for Anita Pendo, it's all in a day's work.

From the start, Pendo was close to the entertainment sector since she comes from a family which has many members plying the trade. Yet that didn't make it easy to follow in their footsteps, because at the time (and even today) a girl in the limelight was still frowned upon by society. "It was a challenge but being the energetic person that I am, and with constant practice, everything just seems to fall in place eventually."

While her first passion was to become a radio presenter, by the time she finished her studies in 2005 radio stations were still few and far between, so finding a job in that field wasn't easy. Then her aunt Hope Azeda, the founder and owner of Mashirika drama group, convinced her to give acting a try. "I really had no passion for acting because I had never pictured myself on stage, but the more I practiced the bigger my passion became."

Later, with the proliferation of radio stations, Pendo also managed to realize her dream of being a radio presenter, and that work in turn resulted in people asking her to be the MC at their functions. That comes easy to her, because she says she loves talking and interacting with people - and Pendo is indeed what you might call a 'chatterbox,' making it rather difficult to end our interview because she couldn't stop talking.

The move to become a DJ in nightclubs was less obvious, because until recently she had an instilled dislike of such places. "Back in the village, there used to be end of year parties and one year, when I was 7, I was attracted by music and found a group of old people dancing. So I joined them, when suddenly I saw my grandfather. I ran for dear life, but later when he came home, he gave me a serious beating. From then on, I hated dance clubs."

Today, she has gotten over the trauma - she even went to Nairobi for a two-month training and now has gigs every weekend in various clubs. Here too, she had to overcome some resistance, especially from her mother who had serious doubts about this nighttime work; yet that, Pendo says, quickly turned into pride over how she is able to take care of herself.

Asked how she manages to combine all those jobs, Pendo replies that most of the time they don't overlap. "The acting and being an MC is not every weekend," she explains, although she admits that sometimes it's hard to get enough rest.

Yet she quickly adds that that is more than compensated by the gratification she gets from her work - and the money. Indeed, her finances have improved to the extent that she is now able to take charge of her siblings, and to save money to buy her own equipment. In addition, the acting with Mashirika has allowed her to travel to Europe, the USA and other parts of the world.

With such a busy life, it comes as little surprise that Pendo is currently single and not really searching - to be honest, any man wanting to try his luck will find her quite a handful. "I am energetic and when I'm determined to do something all the way, I'm unstoppable."

No guessing, then, what she will try her hand at next.

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