Based:Rwanda

MC, musician and journalist, Lion Imanzi, as known to many, is notably one of the few celebrity MCs to stay in the limelight for many years.

As he reminisces the genesis of his career, to him it is one that was not planned for, but rather what destiny could bring together.

Imanzi’s father being a Rwandan diplomat to the United States, saw the MC began his education in the United States before switching to Belgian schools after his was father transferred there. His family later moved back to Rwanda where the young Imanzi studied High school. It was in secondary that he studied sciences which he performed well and chose to pursue at the request of his parents. This wasn’t however where he felt he belonged.

“As a child, I felt more like an artist as I loved to draw, paint and sing. Somehow, I felt like my life would eventually take a turn because in those days parents had selected paths that they had wanted one to take for them to succeed in life. I understood why they wanted me to be a scientist, which I followed and fared well but somehow I knew I had to come to arts and I did,” he says.

He started off initially as a lead singer and part of the Galaxy band back in the 90s mostly doing renditions of stars like Michael Jackson and Bobby Brown, because of his proficiency in Kinyarwanda, English and French.

“It comes off as a surprise to many people today but all through my youth I was very shy and could not express myself in public or talk to people and look them in the eye but when I became a performer, it gave me all the confidence that I needed. I enjoyed because it helped me express myself artistically but also helped me in my personal life,” he reveals.

Lion Imanzi at his first gig as MC during Miss Rwanda 1994 beauty pageant (December 1993). Jacques Ndagirintwari, the organizer of the beauty pageant went into panic mode until Imanzi chose to take up the job. This was the first time he was to step on stage as emcee.

“Asked why he took on such a ‘big’ job he had never done before, he responds; “I take my life like a sponge. You may do things around me and it may seem like I am not paying attention but I am and if necessary I can step in and do the exact job you are doing.”