23 December 2012

Rwanda: Mako Nikoshwa Live in Concert

Mako does Afro-beat music in a country dominated by a few hip hop singers, and many wannabes and pretenders. That has been his unique selling point since his return from Uganda, where he cut his musical teeth: It has also been his major shortcoming, to some of his critics at least. Such critics contend that Mako should drop what they term his "Afro-beat pride" and join the band wagon of urban hip-hop fusion artistes in Kigali.

Not that Nikoshwa is having any of that. He is a proud man and a musical purist too. He believes that it is his music that will lead him to where he wants to be musically, not the other way round.

2012 has not been a very busy year for the pencil-thin and gruff voiced vocalist, and the most probable reason is that he is trying to put his house to order. In a way, he is going back to the drawing board, re-inventing self. And asking some tough questions along the way: questions like the people's perceptions about Rwandan artistes.

"Most people still take young artistes as wannabes who are diluting the local culture with concepts adopted from foreign musicians. They think that local artistes can perform for booze and food, so many of them are still despised," he laments.

Where he used to do pure Afro-beat, Mako is now trying to forge a middle position which embraces both culture and modernity in his sound. The best testimony to this shift is the remix of Nkutekerezaho, on which he teamed up with producer Washington Ebangit. This tune is groovy and cranky, and the day the two decide to make a video clip for it, it may become an East African club anthem. It is that good. Maybe Mako even needs some bit of pressure from fans; pressure to out a new song, pressure to shoot a video for a song-he needs to be put on his toes. And maybe he has not been working very well with the local radios, and so may also have to look into that.

Nikoshwa's eyes are now set on putting up at least four mega concerts every year. "It is time to show my countrymen that in Rwanda, there are some artistes who are doing music professionally, as opposed to wannabes, who are the majority."

To kick start the venture, the singer will be live in concert at the Hotel Le Pyrenees in Ijali on December 24. He will be joined by his musical peers, Rafiki, Holy X and Alpha P Black. He will be backed by the Orchestre Ambiance live band act.

Mako says: "My fans have been wondering if I'm planning to leave music. I'm not leaving music. I want to change Rwandan music by changing the game."

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