Rwandans mourn SA’s Lucky Dube

Yesterday was a dark day for Rwandans following the news of the death of their friend and reggae superstar Lucky Philip Dube. Youth, Culture and Sports Minister Joseph Habineza said the government and the people of Rwanda were deeply saddened by the untimely death of the reggae king.Lucky, 43, was killed in a car hijacking attempt in Rosettenville, Johannesburg in his native South Africa on Thursday night. Almost all radio call-in shows were yesterday dedicated to Lucky’s lifetime with callers strongly condemning his assailants and demanding that justice be delivered.
Lucky Dube performing at Amahoro National Stadium, Kigali,  during the 5th Edition of the Pan-African Dance Festival (FESPAD) on August 12, 2006. The reggae superstar was shot dead on Thursday night in Johannesburg, South Africa. (File photo)
Lucky Dube performing at Amahoro National Stadium, Kigali, during the 5th Edition of the Pan-African Dance Festival (FESPAD) on August 12, 2006. The reggae superstar was shot dead on Thursday night in Johannesburg, South Africa. (File photo)

Yesterday was a dark day for Rwandans following the news of the death of their friend and reggae superstar Lucky Philip Dube. Youth, Culture and Sports Minister Joseph Habineza said the government and the people of Rwanda were deeply saddened by the untimely death of the reggae king.Lucky, 43, was killed in a car hijacking attempt in Rosettenville, Johannesburg in his native South Africa on Thursday night.Almost all radio call-in shows were yesterday dedicated to Lucky’s lifetime with callers strongly condemning his assailants and demanding that justice be delivered.

Lucky visited Rwanda three times since 1994 – in 1996, 2003 and 1996 – and in all his performances, he drew thousands of wild fans who especially liked his songs that preached unity and reconciliation – which well fitted in Rwanda’s society that was recovering from years of divisionism that climaxed with the 1994 Genocide.

“As Rwandans we have lost a great friend. It is such an irreplaceable loss to Africans,” Habineza said in a tribute to the late Lucky. “He was an idol and great Pan-Africanist.”

 “No wonder another reggae vocalist, Alpha Blondy sang that ‘most enemy of Africans is an African’ because we can see what has happened,” Habineza said, adding that Lucky’s life was terminated in a disgraceful way.

He said Dube was a friend of Rwanda and as such the country was considering sending condolence messages and flowers to his family and South Africans in general.

Rwanda’s reggae legend, Natty Dread Mitali, said “we are in a terrible shock…we do not know how to handle this situation. He was a freedom fighter and a peaceful man.

I really wonder if at the end of all his good works, he deserved to die in such a gruesome manner.”

“He was such a great down-to-earth and generous man to say the least. We Africans have lost a true pan-Africanist. He was my good friend and role model, with whom I performed in many countries in Africa, Europe and Asia. He was such a great and inspiring artiste,” he added.

“I respect him for his great contribution to the Rastafarian community the world over; he has kept the reggae tune alive.
He has been a widely respected and liked person.”

The host of Natural Contact (Bass Culture Sound) programme on 89.7 Contact FM, Emmy Ngabo, said: “For me, it’s extremely unfortunate that Lucky has not lived to enjoy the fruits of his sweat. He labored to unite Africans and other races in other parts of the world through his musical lyrics.”

“He was a true peace ambassador who deserved to stay. Most of his hits preach unity, tolerance and reconciliation. Ho contributed significantly to the fight against the racist Apartheid regime in South Africa, and the release of Nelson Mandela,” a grieving Ngabo recalled.

He cited Lucky’s songs ‘Freedom’ and ‘One People’ as among those in which the fallen musician reached out to conflicting societies worldwide, and which particularly contributed to liberation movements on the African continent.

The local Rastafarian said Dube had wiped the tears of many following the mysterious deaths of reggae founders Bob Marley and Peter Tosh.

But Ngabo added: “Just as the saying goes, ‘Rasta Never Die’ Lucky is no longer with us physically but his spirit remains with us. We shall always remember and honour him.

In fact, this makes us grow even stronger and not to be intimidated as Rastafarians.”

He said Rastafarians were not undisciplined people but rather “we are nice people because our culture prohibits us from doing wrong things.”

Lion Imanzi, the production manager of Contact FM, also a Rastafarian, said that he hardly believed Lucky had died the first time he heard it from friends.

“Not until I read it from the internet. It is a huge tragedy. Dube was still young and had many projects to undertake and accomplish.”

He condemned his assailants and called for justice.

“I can’t imagine the kind of trauma his son (who witnessed as his father was being slaughtered) is going to go through.”

He said he did not believe that all the fallen reggae greats were victims of robbery, adding that there could be a hidden agenda behind their deaths. “Let’s wait, time will tell.”

Imanzi said the Rwandan Rastafarians would soon meet “to discuss what we can do. We are going to convey our condolences and dedicate many hours on the airwaves to reflect on the lifetime of Lucky Dube and lessons we should draw from his life.”

He said that a concert would also be organised by local musicians in commemoration of Lucky Dube.

Local artistes said that Lucky had promised during his last visit in 2006 in Kigali that he would return to the country to “accomplish his dream for Rwanda”.

“He always identified himself with us because of the similarity of the history of his country and ours,” a local Rastafarian said.

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