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Pharmacy degree, love of basketball & 'Nina Siri' success: The incomparable Israel Mbonyi

On March 10th, Israel Mbonyi will be marking 10 years since he released his first song. Get to know more about the celebrated Rwandan singer-songwriter through his biography.

Biography of Rwandan gospel musician Israel Mbonyi

Israel Mbonyicyambu, popularly known as Israel Mbonyi, is a celebrated Rwandan gospel singer, performer, and songwriter who has made significant contributions to the gospel music scene since he began his career.

Mbonyi was born to Christian parents in the Democratic Republic of Congo on May 20, 1992. His passion for music began to show from a young age, leading him to pursue it as his career.

While Israel Mbonyi has dedicated most of his career life to music, he holds a degree in Pharmacy which he obtained from India.


In a 2022 interview on RTV, he also confirmed having nearly completed studies for a masters degree in Public Health saying that it's a career option he would consider if he wasn't making music full-time.

Israel learned music when he was very young, receiving training from a music teacher in his childhood neighbourhood in Musanze, Ruhangeri City - Rwanda.


Out of a class that started with 30 students, Mbonyi notes that he was the only one who completed the course and learned how to play the guitar.

He released his first song 'Number One' on March 10, 2014, which also marked the release of his first album by the same title the same year.

The album includes eight songs, among them are 'Yankuyeho Urubanza', 'Ku Migezi', 'Nzibyo Nibwira', 'Ku Musaraba', 'Ndanyuzwe', 'Hari Impamvu', and 'Agasambi'.


Most of Israel's early musical releases were in his native language, Kinyarwanda, until 2023 when he ventured into singing in Swahili with his first release being his most popular hit, 'Nina Siri', on June 26, 2023.

The song introduced Mbonyi to a wide Swahili-speaking East African audience in Tanzania and Kenya, quickly propelling him to regional and international fame.

His fans, including former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, have mistaken him for a Tanzanian national due to the success of 'Nina Siri'.

"I've actually been watching this young man called Israel Mbonyi, he's Rwandese but he sings like a Tanzanian. He's very poetic when he sings 'Nina siri...' then 'jasiri..'" Kalonzo observed in an interview with TV47.


He followed up 'Nina Siri' with 'Nitaamini' in November 2023, 'Malengo Ya Mungu' in December 2023 and most recently, 'Sikiliza' in February 2024.

In addition to his music, Israel Mbonyi is known for hosting the "Icyambu Live Concert", an annual event that brings together people of all ages to celebrate the year's ups and downs with joy and reflection through gospel music.

The concert showcases a variety of Mbonyi's songs and often features other artists and speakers who contribute to the event's spiritual and celebratory atmosphere


As part of his branding, the live recordings from performing at concerts also double as his popular music videos on YouTube.

Mbonyi's work in the gospel music industry has been recognised with nominations and awards including Groove Awards Rwanda titles for ‘Male Artiste of the Year’ and ‘ Songwriter of the Year’ in 2017.

He also received nominations at the 2020 African Entertainment Awards USA and in 2023 he scooped the Male Artiste of the Year and Best Gospel Artiste of 2023 at Rwanda's local Isango Na Muzika Awards.


Mbonyi has also performed on continetal and international stages including in Tanzania, Burundi, Israel, Vancouver-Canada and in June 2024 he will be returning to Brussels, Belgium for his second concert at Birmingham Palace.

As a professing Christian, Israel Mbonyi draws inspiration for songs from his personal relationship with God, Bible reading and prayer. In a 2022 interview, he shared that he also listens to other musicians to get inspired.

He has also expressed that his approach to music is driven by inspiration rather than the pursuit of commercial hits. He emphasises the importance of singing from a place of inspiration, suggesting that his motivation comes from a deeper, more personal connection to his faith and the messages he wishes to convey through his music


Mbonyi's focus on inspiration over commercial success highlights his commitment to the spiritual and emotional impact of his work, aiming to touch the hearts of listeners and convey meaningful messages rather than simply achieving mainstream popularity.

Many of his fans are curious about Israel's private life, especially his romantic relationships but the artiste has largely kept that away from the public.

He has numerously confirmed that he is single but is interested in starting a family of his own.

His current net worth in 2024 is estimated at $50,000 though the figure is not officially confirmed.


Israel Mbonyi is also an avid reader of both fiction and non-fiction books and enjoys watching and trying to play basketball.

This content was created with the help of an AI model and verified by the writer.


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