On first sight, Ismail Nduwimana, commonly known as Adjobalove in showbiz circles, is just one of those dread-locked Rasta men in town. It is very easy to associate him with all the stereotypes linked to Rastafarianism.
Yet there is more to this soft-spoken Reggae artiste than his physical appearance could probably portray. Indeed, masked under the dreadlocks is a soft voice of a man who has dedicated his music career to preach love, peace and unity. This theme runs through all his songs.
Understandably the Burundian national, who made 39 in April, has had his music influenced by his troubled childhood which he attributes to insecurity in his home country.
“The civil war that started in 1993 is still continuing and has shattered peace in Burundi — a country that was once peaceful and beautiful. Death and human sufferings is all over the place — occurring everyday and the trauma of these terrible experiences have taken and continue to take their toll on me, my family and country as a whole. I lost my father, mother two brothers and one sister in the war,” Nduwimana says.
His sad background and the insecurity in his home country became an inspiration and the genesis of Nduwimana’s music career.
At the start of the civil war in Burundi, he fled to Tanzania where he started pursuing his music career with the help of celebrated Tanzanian musician called Justin Karikawa.
In 1996 the reggae artiste moved to Rwanda and founded a band called Adjobalove and Friends Wailers through which they composed and sung songs of peace in different languages such as his native Kirundi, Kinyarwanda, Kiswahili as well as English. The idea was to spread the message of peace to a diverse audience as possible.
Nduwimana is famed for songs like Aha turi hari abandi, Ubumenyi Bwiza, Amani lazima izingatiwe na watu wote, I respect you; you respect me; Fata umwanya Igihe Kizobabwira.
As a result of the good message contained in his work, his music was well received by the public and this earned him sponsorship from government ministries and non-government organisations who hired him to do music tours across Rwanda and Burundi
In 1999, the messenger of Rastafarian roots, reggae and rock music got opportunity to perform alongside celebrated artistes at the time. They included Jahgen, Karamuheto, Ben Rutabana Jean Paul Samputu, Maveregaye Sundi, Christophe Matata and Natty dread among others. This happened in different concerts and different times.
Every musician’s dream is to grace some of the world’s biggest concerts or perform in different countries and Nduwimana has lived to see this dream come true.
In 2007, he travelled to the USA and performed at the World Beat Concert in San Diego. He later joined Mira Costa College in Oceanside, California where he studied music technology in a bid to help better his music career as well share the knowledge acquired with fellow artistes in East Africa.
It was while in California that Nduwimana’s journey of becoming a professional and international artiste, guitarist and a music composer began.
Equipped with enhanced skills, he founded another band called the New Way and performed various concerts in southern California, Miami (Florida), Washington State, Portland (Oregon), Las Vegas (Nevada), Dallas (Texas), Buffalo (New York).
In 2012 he went back to Burundi but was not well received. “I opened up an office, the Adjobalove Project Open Microphone Live Music, but I was mistreated by the Burundian politicians because I refused to be part of their selfish interests of divisionism. Divisionism is contrary to my interest of promoting peace and love. I was arrested and my car and musical equipment were confiscated,” Nduwimana narrates.
He later sought refuge in Rwanda where he is currently based and has performed as well as organized several concerts such as the USA Independence Day at the American Embassy, Never Again to preach against genocide ideology as well as tribute to Bob Marley and Lucky Dube — both renown Reggae legends.
Nduwimana’s message of peace and love is inspired by Jah and his experience in Africa’s history. “Having seen people die, hungry orphans, and children in the streets due to disease; these healing messages bring hope to build for a better future as one, one love, one heart, one world, together in one destiny.”