Guitar Tales: The unique power of Bolingo’s guitar

One of the rising stars of Rwandan music, Deo Salvator explains why this young musical polymath deserves all the plaudits.


Image: Press

When you purchase through affiliate links on Guitar.com, you may contribute to our site through commissions. Learn more

Being regarded as a ‘guitarist’s guitarist’ is a rare honour amongst the community in which we live and work – indeed for some, to be a musician whose chops are held in high regard amongst your peers is the ultimate accolade. I couldn’t help but thinking of the ‘guitarist’s guitarist’ maxim when I sat down to write about Bolingo – a rising star of Rwandan music who is one of the most talented and accomplished guitarists I’ve ever heard.

His beautiful melodies and impeccable choice of notes have captivated audiences not only in Rwanda but around the world, while as a guitarist I can have extra appreciation for Bolingo’s versatility as a musician, and the way he seamlessly blends different genres to create a sound that is entirely his own. It’s no wonder that he has quickly become a household name in Rwanda, and a source of inspiration for aspiring guitarists.

Musical beginnings

Rukundo Patient Bolingo, or Bolingo Paccy was born in Rubavu, Rwanda in 2001, and grew up in a family with a strong passion for music. Bolingo’s father, who was an accomplished pianist and guitarist, played a pivotal role in introducing him to music at a young age by teaching him his first chords and exposing him to music in church where he sang in the choir. In addition, Bolingo’s family’s involvement in the national ballet Urukerereza also helped shape his love for music.

Initially, Bolingo’s goal was to become a pianist, but he became drawn to the guitar due to its portability. In 2017, he participated in the Nyundo Music School Competition upon the urging of a friend, showcasing his impressive skills in drums, piano, and bass. Despite his parents wanting him to finish electronics school first, Bolingo couldn’t deny the calling of his heart and he entered the Nyundo school in 2018.

Image: Press

At first, Bolingo found it difficult to find his footing at music school, feeling both overwhelmed and lonely. However, he managed to overcome this by writing a song about his experience, which was received well by the audience. This encouraged him to continue composing music on the guitar and gave him the confidence to perform among other music students.

Bolingo went on to form the Umuriri Band, which started as a class band optimistically named ‘Huge Band’. They performed shows at school and eventually went on to make a film that you can find on YouTube. Bolingo was the composer, writing and arranging songs for them. After graduation, Bolingo and his bandmates decided to live together and build a studio in their new home.

Home projects to big things

With the tools of a studio now at his fingertips, Bolingo started working on his debut album, Umucancuro – a fusion of modern Gakondo, afrosoul, jazz, blues, and gospel, with all the songs focusing on a story of a man who left his family to find himself. The album was finally released in January 2023 at an event at L’Espace in Kigali – it was a record that signalled the arrival of a major new talent, and in no time at all the music industry in Rwanda has taken notice.

Despite the buzz around him, Bolingo remains humble, and especially conscious and reverent of the musicians who have paved the way for him to do what he loves in this fashion.

“As a guitarist, I highly appreciate Popo,” he tells me, referring to Mighty Popo: the founder of Nyundo Music School and Kigali’s Up Festival. “He’s a very great source of inspiration for me and has taken the time to incorporate traditional music and put it into the guitar. I thank him for the great curriculum that not only tackled international music but also reminded us of our roots and shed light to freshen up our vision for our music career! Hat’s off to him for also creating the platform and network for us.”

Image: Press

Bolingo’s experience at Nyundo Music School not only gave him a clear vision for his music career but also gave him his first teaching experience when he’d cover for Pastor Aimable Teacher in music theory and vocals for one semester.

Bolingo Paccy is one seriously talented musician you don’t want to miss out on. His passion for music is intense, and he’s dedicated to his craft, always pushing the boundaries of traditional music to create a unique sound that’s pure magic. His music is not only a treat for your ears but also an inspiration for aspiring musicians. With big plans for his career, Bolingo hopes to collaborate with other talented musicians and use his music to inspire positive change in his community. Follow him on social media and check out his YouTube channel to stay updated on his latest releases and gigs – trust me, your music playlist will thank you!

Follow Bolingo on Instagram @bolingopaccy.

Related Artists

Related Tags


The world’s leading authority and resource for all things guitar.

© 2024 Guitar.com is part of NME Networks.