After a grueling six-month competition, the curtain was closed on what has been a successful inaugural edition of East Africa’s Got Talent.
At the end of the day, the winner had to be announced, it was Ugandan duo Esther and Ezekiel Mutesasira who took the crown, bagging $50,000 along the way.
Who are these two youngsters who’ve taken East Africa by storm?
The brother and sister were born in Uganda. Esther, 14, and Ezekiel, 11.
Their journey in the musical world started years back. Esther recalls singing at home in front of the mirror, away from the public eye. She, however, was noticed by her aunt. “My aunt kept telling me I have a gifted voice,” she says. Esther, not truly convinced by her aunt’s conviction, kept her talent at bay and continued singing in seclusion.
“One day, in 2017, during my usual solo performance in front of the mirror, I was oblivious of my aunt’s presence. She hid somewhere and had a great vantage point from where she took video footage of me singing. She later showed me the video as evidence of what she always told me; how great a singer I am,” Esther narrates.
After seeing the video of herself singing, Esther was in awe of her voice. From then on she inclined to the idea that maybe her singing voice is above average, and exploring just how far it can take her might not be such a bad idea.
Ezekiel’s case paints a different picture. His talent was obvious from the start, and he wasn’t ashamed to show it. “I’ve always loved singing,” he says, adding “I used to imitate popular artistes I see on television. If it’s a woman singing, I would not only want to sing like her, but also copy her looks. I’d rampage my mum’s bedroom, get a wig and high heels and start singing.”
Ezekiel mentions his mother as his role model and inspiration for singing, for Esther – legendary musicians such as the late Whitney Houston, Celine Dione and Beyoncé have always been the precursors that ignite her singing prowess.
So, since childhood the siblings’ singing ability was spotted and elevated. “Thanks to our aunt’s belief in our talent we are here today as East Africa’s Got Talent winners,” says Esther, “she believed in us even when our parents didn’t put too much focus on our talent in music,” she adds.
It was their aunt, Gladys, who registered them for EAGT when calls for entry were made across Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda.
A journey that started six months ago came to a climax this past weekend with the siblings emerging victorious from an extraordinary list of talents hailing from different parts of the East African region.
Their start was auspicious enough to mark a beginning of many great moments to come. “I was confident from the beginning that we would do well,” says Ezekiel.
For Esther, making it all the way to the finals and actually winning the contest seems surreal. This is because since childhood she has always had stage fright, it explains why she’d sing all by herself at home before being persuaded to further explore her talent. She credits EAGT for helping her overcome her inhibition and fear of public exhibition of her talent.
Even before registering for the talent show, Esther was beguiled by the allure of celebrity-hood, she admired so much to one day become a celebrity. Joining EAGT with her younger brother meant a start in the quest for stardom.
When the duo first got on the EAGT stage and started singing, the judges, a panel that included Vanessa Mdee from Tanzania, Jeff Koinange from Kenya, Gaetano Kagwa from Uganda and Makeda Mahadeo from Rwanda, were all taken by surprised and visibly impressed by what they’d just witnessed.
From then on the two acts would continue putting one impressive show after another, culminating to the final showdown at the grand finale.
On the final day, the pair’s exemplary rendition of Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey’s smash hit ‘When you believe’ – based on 1998 DreamWorks musical animated feature ‘The Prince of Egypt’ – swept the audience and the judges off their feet, and was enough to seal victory.
To win the grand prize on the final day, Esther and Ezekiel had to fend off competition from other acts including; Intayoberana Cultural Dance Group (Rwanda), Comedic Dance Group (Uganda), Dance Alliance Network (Uganda), Jehovah Shalom Acapella (Uganda), Janella Tamara and Spellcast (Kenya).
Speaking on their emotions before they were announced winners, the duo admitted to having been scared, with Ezekiel saying he had to hold his sister’s hand for comfort.
The success at the talent show has made the names Esther and Ezekiel resonate in East Africa.
Following their victory, Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni sent his congratulatory remarks via social media, following in the line of the hundreds of applauds the duo have since received.
Their journey in music has just began, and they have a lot more in store to share with the world.
Speaking to The Beat during their visit to Tanzania after being crowned winners, Esther talked about how she plans to give back to the community, saying she owes all the success to the support she and her brother received from the public.
With both still in school, their new journey in the limelight will have to work around their school schedule. They are well-prepared for what lies ahead.