Singer Bahati on how brush with death shaped his career

HE had a close brush with death in 1998, when a bus he was travelling in was ambushed by armed bandits in the north-western district of Rubavu.

HE had a close brush with death in 1998, when a bus he was travelling in was ambushed by armed bandits in the north-western district of Rubavu.

He was among the few people, who survived on the fateful day when genocidal armed bandits killed over 70 people who were on the bus. Surviving this tragedy was to become the turning point of renowned gospel singer Alphonse Bahati.

“It was one of the most fatal attacks and, up to now I don’t know how I survived it. When the armed bandits stopped the Bralirwa bus that morning, they ordered us to separate along ethnic lines, but we refused. The response angered the attackers, who started shooting indiscriminately before setting the bus on fire,” the singer recalled.

“However, that attack opened my eyes and made me reflect more on God. I felt that the best way to thank God for sparing my life was to use my talent to talk about His love through my songs,” he added.

Ever since that tragedy Bahati has used his talent as a gospel artiste to touch souls through music. He has released songs like Ni wowe gusa, Singizwa, Ni inde wahisemo, Nshuti nziza and Birasohoye, among others.

The married father of four traces his musical journey back to 1996, in Bethlehem church in Rubavu, where he was a member of the choir.

A born-again Christian, Bahati’s story is a testimony of how inspiration and hope can take you places.

In 1998, shortly after surviving the attack, Bahati released his debut album titled Urupfu nari gupfa about the killings and how he survived. The song which was produced by local music producer Jean Uwimana has been a hit till today.

The singer-songwriter urges Rwandan artistes to use their talent for social good. He has organised several charity shows in Rubavu district, to support the families of the 1998 Bralirwa bus victims.

The singer also challenged relevant ministries to support the music industry and inspire young talented musicians to explore their performing and singing abilities to international level.

“Music is a special art. I had the passion for music since I was a child and that is how I ended up in music,” said Bahati.

Bahati attributes all his expertise and knowledge in the industry to family and friends who tutored him and enabled him to learn the skills without any formal training.

He has worked with several local gospel artistes including Aron Tunga, Aime Uwimana, King James and, Liliane Kabaganza, among others.

“What makes me happy is when I see young people venturing into the gospel music scene, in the pursuit of spreading the word of God through their songs,” said Bahati.

Bahati’s advice to aspiring artistes is to use their talents to transform society and the country, by spreading the word of God through their compositions and to live exemplary lives. In his career, Bahati has so far released three albums Hallelujah Hosanna, Shima Imana and Niwowe gusa Mana.

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