Kevin-Antoine NIBARUTA was born in Tanzania in 1998. His family was back to Burundi in 2002. He grew up in Mutanga-Nord and Gasekebuye neighbourhoods in Bujumbura. He started drawing some Dragon Ball’s characters when he was in the primary school. In 2010, by the time he was starting secondary school, he finally decided to devote a great deal of time to drawing without putting aside his daily task of studying. Currently, Kevin-Antoine is busy with studies at Liaoning Shihua University in China. He draws only for his customers as he is not allowed to do it as a business in China for he still doesn’t have such a right.
People are not used to what we do. Sometimes we ask for reasonable payments, they think we’re asking for too much. They just don’t know how to treat an artist yet. This is partly the fault of promoters who don’t respect our dedication and effort at the same rank as all other Burundian talents
Akeza.net: Who is Kévin-Antoine NIBARUTA?
Kévin-Antoine NIBARUTA: I was born in Tanzania in 1998. I am a firstborn in the family of three children, two boys and one girl. My family came back to Burundi in 2002. I grew up in Mutanga-Nord and Gasekebuye quarters. In high school, I graduated at New School in Economic section. Nowadays, I amgoing on with my studies at the Liaoning Shihua University in China in the faculty of International Economics and Trade. I am a painting and drawing artist under the nickname of “Skull BoyK The Special”.
Akeza.net: How and when did you start drawing?
I might say that everybody starts drawing in their early 3 or 4 years. We all start by scribbling when we are toddlers and then some of us never quit that habit, making it a passion.
Skull BoyK The Special’s artwork. On the picture: Kirikou Akili, young Burundian singer. ©DR
Kevin-Antoine NIBARUTA: I might say that everybody starts drawing in their early 3 or 4 years. We all start by scribbling when we are toddlers and then some of us never quit that habit, making it a passion. I was quickly attracted by cartoons and later started drawing some Dragon Ball’s characters when I was in the primary school. I finally dedicated myself to it in 2010, when I was starting secondary school. I’ve met some of today’s best artists such as Shaquille Mugisha, Sage Ntirandekura, etc. who inspired me. We encouraged each other in following our passions.
Akeza.net: What were the challenges?
Kevin-Antoine NIBARUTA: Before, I was drawing just because it pleased me. But, as I kept on practicing, I wanted to step forward. I made my art a passion, a hobby. I am looking forward to making it my daily job.
Skull BoyK The Special’s artwork. On the picture: Sat B, Burundian singer. ©DR
I might say that things weren’t tough to me as such. However, our generation is new. People are not used to what we do. Sometimes we ask for reasonable payments, they think we’re asking for too much. They just don’t know how to treat an artist yet. This is partly the fault of promoters who don’t respect our dedication and effort at the same rank as all other Burundian talents. We also miss materials, not that we don’t have funds for them, but we just don’t get places where we can get them. We have then to import them. This mostly was the challenges I had to encounter.
Akeza.net: As you are studying abroad, how do you manage to keep doing your art?
Kevin-Antoine NIBARUTA: Actually, as I am a little bit taken by my courses, I unfortunately don’t have enough time for drawing. Meanwhile, I can draw for my customers as I don’t have the right to do it as a business here in China. I am therefore using social media namely Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube where I am publishing my work on all my accounts under my nickname “SkullBoyKTheSpecial”.
Akeza.net: What are you doing to keep your art alive?
Kevin-Antoine NIBARUTA: Painting is not an easy job. It’s box of talents to be explored and exploited so that the world might benefit from it. Focusing on that, I am on my side, now working on my skills, learning new ways of doing things, good ones.
I’d like to conclude that one of my foremost wishes is that African artists in general, and particularly Burundian artists might get the place they deserve in the society.
Interview by Melchisédeck BOSHIRWA