Patrick Nnaemeka Okorie, popularly known by his stage name Patoranking, is arguably one of the biggest artistes on the African continent. On his third visit to Rwanda, he attended the third edition of the YouthConnekt, and held a concert on Wednesday night. Saturday Times’ James Peter Nkurunziza caught up with him to discuss issues concerning African youth, his music journey, and his experience in Rwanda.
What has been your experience given the fact that you have been to Rwanda three times now?
Well, I should say it has been a really amazing experience for me. Every time I come here, there is a very big change, especially in the infrastructure here. I have been here three times but never got the chance to walk around and see the different areas because I would only stay for a day and leave but I’m here for two days. I have just returned from the genocide memorial site and it is such a touching experience.
The Nigerian singer reads profiles of victims at Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre in Gisozi.
You came to attend the YouthConnekt Africa 2019, what do you think the youth have gained?
I think the youth, from different countries across Africa have had the chance to draw inspiration from fellow Africans who have really become successful and this is a sort of motivation for them. When someone is going through a hard time but listens to someone who went through the same and was able to find their way out of it, it helps them become optimistic and hustle their way to the top.
What do you think are the main challenges African youth face today?
One of them is them having little access to the people they look up to. You see, the people many youths look up to made a lot of mistakes on their way up and if youths would learn and listen to them, I am sure they would learn a lot.
Patoranking signs a visitors’ book after touring the KIgali Memorial Centre
The Rwandan government has helped its youth solve this as currently, Didier Drogba and myself are currently here to inspire them and I hope they learn from us.
Drawing from your own experience as an artiste, I understand it wasn’t easy making it, how did you manage to succeed ?
It was easy in the start. No sponsor, looking for a record label and having to do a lot of stuff all by myself. I had to keep on working, I had to keep on believing in myself and always telling myself that I am the best even when I wasn’t heard. I had to keep a positive attitude and that is what all youths should do because had I quit, I would have never made it.
Is there anything you know about Rwandan music?
I definitely know Meddy, as he is such a very talented guy and it is because of that that we are hitting the studio very soon to do a song together. I do not know a lot of Rwandan artistes, I want to be honest, but I also knew the Urban Boys way back in the day.
What are some of the things you can’t wait to tell your people in Nigeria about Rwanda?
I love the fact that it is clean and the people here obey the laws of the country. The people are law abiding citizens and this is something you do not find everywhere. Even people in Nigeria are law abiding citizens but there is much more discipline here.
You held a concert at the summit, tell me about it?
I have been to many countries in Africa and outside the continent. However, it was my first time having to perform at a concert that has many people from across the world as in many of the concerts I do, it is people from mainly those countries that attend but here, it has been a mixture of races, origins and different ages and it was a very big moment for me.
Having been to the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre, what do you learn from the history of Rwanda and what lessons should people derive from this?
Like I told you, it is the first time I have been to different places in Kigali and I managed to visit the Genocide Memorial Centre. It is such a very saddening experience and my heart goes out to people who lost their loved ones.
However, it is a lesson to all people, not only in Rwanda, but across the world to always love one another regardless of our origins after all we are all humans and we can’t be the same. Differences in skin colour, language and origin should not divide us but instead bring us together as we have a lot to learn from each other.
Read the full story: Patoranking reflects on Rwanda visit