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newtimes - 25 days ago

Kwibuka27: Music incited masses, music bore the brunt of the Genocide

MUSIC played two contrasting roles in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. On one hand there were musicians like Simon Bikindi, who composed hateful songs calling for the extermination of Tutsi, while on the other hand, music, especially played on Radio Muhabura, gave survivors a glimmer of hope. The morale boosting songs and songs of patriotism composed by famous musicians like, Cecile Kayirebwa, Annonciata Mutamuliza, popularly known as Kamaliza, Intore Masamba and others presented a glimmer of hope that Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF-Inkotanyi) fighters were advancing and getting closer to rescuing them from wherever they were hiding. Legendary singer and poet Cecile Kayirebwa.  Even those who had fled from the killings to neighbouring countries relied on music to keep their hopes high, for music created a psychological state of mind that things will get better soon. Serge Rukundo, whose family was hiding at College Saint-André in Nyamirambo, recalls that often they would find a small radio and cram around to listen to Radio Muhabura at a very low volume, to avoid being caught. “The songs gave us hope that our saviours were on the way. They helped us to forget what awaited us,” Rukundo remembers. In a recent interview in line with Kwibuka27, Intore Massamba, said that music formed some sort of solace for him and others who had joined the RPF-Inkotanyi liberation struggle as morale boosters, even as the killings began, they often composed songs not only to sooth hearts and minds, but also to encourage people to hold on until victory comes. “Through our songs, some people simply made up their minds to leave behind their families which were in danger to join the liberation struggle,” said Massamba, who released a song “Amarira”, detailing the sad scenes he saw between Byumba and Kigali, as RPF fighters fast advanced to the capital to stop the killings. Renowned traditional musician Intore Masamba.  On the other hand, artistes like Bikindi composed songs that encouraged and incited Hutu to kill the Tutsi in his ‘awakening’ songs and also attacked the Hutu, who he thought were supporting or sympathetic to the Tutsi. His songs played massively on Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) and the national television and radio. His role in inciting the Genocide stood out so much so that in 2008 he was sentenced to 15 years in prison by the International Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda (ICTR) after he was found guilty of incitement to commit Genocide. Musicians targeted Beyond playing contrasting roles in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, the music industry at the time also bore the brunt of the kills as artistes who were ethnically Tutsi were also targeted. A list compiled by the Association of Rwandan Musicians (LIRAM) in 2013 shows that at least 14 prominent musicians were killed in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. Prominent among the musicians who were killed was André Sebanani, who was the front man of Orchestre Impala. He is remembered for songs like “Mama Munyana” and “Urabaruta”, among others. He was also an actor under the now defunct Indamutsa group. Also killed during the Genocide was popular musician Cyprien Rugamba and his wife Daphrosa Rugamba, killed with six of their 10 children on April 7, 1994. The last family group photo was taken inside their garden in January 1994. Rugamba is one of the most eulogised music legends in Rwanda, was also a renowned author, poet and leader of Amasimbi n’Amakombe. He was popular for his songs such as “Ubuhanga buhanitse”, “Inyigisho zo kubana neza” and “Ku muryango Nyarwanda”. Other Tutsi members of Amasimbi n Amakombe were also killed. Dieudonne Munyanshoza, a singer known mainly for his commemoration songs, describes Rugamba as a legend, whose songs had a profound impact on the people across all age groups. Dieudonne Bizimungu and his wife Agnes Uwimbabazi.  He was a great musician who inspired many. His songs were so educa he was an artiste of the people because all generations liked his music, to date, his music and the messages therein remain popular and relevant to our lives,” Munyanshoza says. Dieudonne Munyanshoza.  Also not spared was prominent musician Rodrigue Karemera, known for his love songs “Kwibuka” and “Ubarijoro”, among others was also killed alongside the majority of his family members. Three of his children, including Valerie Iradukunda, of the famous children’s song “Ihorere Munyana”. Other documented musicians killed during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi include, Agnes Uwimbabazi and Dieudonné Bizimungu, who were married, and often performed with Keremera, as well as Sadi Gatete, who was a member of Orchestre Abamararungu. Singer Rodrigue Karemera.  Also killed was Loti Bizimana from Orchestre Ikibatsi and famous for his song “Ntamunoza”, Eugène Rugerinyange of Orchestre Ingeli, Mimir Murebwayire, one of the few female musicians at the time and a member of Orchestre Les Citadins and Emmanuel Sekimonyo, famous for his stage name Manu Tabaro. Others include Saulve Iyamuremye, also a member of Indahemuka choir, Berchmas Rwakabayiza and Jean de Dieu Kayigamba, both members of Chorale de Kigali and Bernard Kalisa from chorale Ijuru. Read also:  Artistes commemorate Genocide through music Read also:  How music is helping Genocide survivors recover from trauma


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