15 March 2014

Rwanda: Meet Tom Close, the Musician, Doctor and Family Man


He has been around and has seen the music industry undergo different phases over time. Since hitting the limelight with his debut album Kuki in May 2008, Tom Close aka Thomas Buyombo has become a household name.

The singer with his wife.

Close is not only a talented musician but also a professional doctor. The New Times' Richard Mugarura interviewed him about what he stands for. Excerpts...

How would you describe your journey in the Rwandan music industry and what are some of the challenges you've faced along the way?

The journey has been tough. I must say, though it has been one of those experiences that certify that God is with you and carrying you through the tough times. Along the way challenges come up in every corner like lack of financial support, lack of professional recording studios among many others. These are just the same issues most musicians in the country face.

You are known for your 'electrifying' performances on stage. Do you have any special routine you go through before you get on stage?

I say my prayers first, and then let all the energy and prowess out when I get on the stage.

What are your thoughts on the state of Rwanda's music industry and what do you think should be done to improve the industry?

The industry, as you call it, is presently in a progressive state. If you had looked at it fifteen years back and compare it to the present, you'll see some undeniable improvement. I think the industry as a whole needs to broaden its horizons. For example more production, performances, recording, organising concerts... everything in fact needs to be considered.

Your song Amarira with General Ozzy and Roberto turned out to be a big hit in the region. How did you feel when you were contacted for that collaboration?

I was honoured to work with General Ozzy and Roberto. We [Rwandan musicians] need to move out of our comfort zones and look for experienced musicians who will help us gain professional music skills and have our music compete at the international level.

Of all the stage names, why did you choose Tom Close?

Back in the day as a little boy, I had two close friends in the neighbourhood, and we used to call ourselves "Close friends".

So we decided that we should add the word Close to our initials, and that's how I ended up with the name Tom Close. Basically I got that name before I became a musician.

Now that you are married, what has changed about you?

A lot of things have changed since I got married a few months ago. For example, I'm now more responsible and cautious than I used to be when I was single. Very focused and determined in everything I do because I now have a family to take care of. But most importantly, I'm the happiest man in the world because I married my soul mate Ange Tricia Niyonshuti. I love her so much because she means the world to me.

Tell us about your background?

I was born on October 28 1986 in Masindi District, Uganda to Edward Karangwa and Faith Grace Dukuze. I am the second born of the three children.

I had my primary education in Uganda, before we returned to Rwanda. In Rwanda, I enrolled at Kiziguro secondary school and then joined Lycée de Kigali, where I completed my secondary education.

I was later admitted at the National University of Rwanda, where I graduated with a degree in medicine. I am currently working at the Kacyiru based National Police hospital.

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