As Rwanda starts her 14th Genocide commemoration, Massamba Intore, a local artist, has dishonoured the former Rwandan musician, Simon Bikindi for his participation in 1994 Genocide.
Massamba talked to The New Times reporter and vehemently castigated people who used their talents, to propagate the hatred that culminated into the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. He particularly fingered out, Simon Bikindi.
“An artist is supposed to be non-aligned; without a tribe and cannot therefore be identified as either a Tutsi or a Hutu.
Artists sing and perform to the whole public. For Bikindi, I am not a judge, but the fact that he is a suspect itself, makes him lose fame and popularity,” Masamba said.
He added that, “Bikindi had a significant influence in the Habyarimana’s regime. He had all opportunities to use his talent and fight against the evil that befell this nation, but instead, he did what was not expected of him.”
Massamba said that, as an artist, his main responsibility is to make the society better and heal hearts of the people.
“Artists have great influence in society and that is why, they can be very useful in building the nation. Like church leaders, artists have the capacity to ‘preach’ and tell people to reconcile”, he remarks.
He gave an example of good artists like, Cyprien Rugamba and Loti Bizimana with their popular songs; Nsigaye Ndumuzungu and Ntamunoza. All of them were killed during the Genocide because their songs had anti-genocide messages.
When asked about his role in the on going efforts to fight Genocide ideologies, he said that he sings about love, patriotism and development and is convinced that his messages can be used to rebuild the nation.
“I give the ‘never again’ messages in my songs. This is of course against the background that I participated in the struggle which stopped the 1994 Genocide, using my songs,” Massamba said.
Massamba called upon other artists, not to be used by negative forces who want to destroy the nation. Reminding them (artists) of their power and influence, Massamba asked them to be constructive and denounce the likes of Simon Bikindi, so that they may join heroes like, Cyprian Rugamba and Loti Bizimana.
Simon Bikindi who was born in September 28, 1954 is a Rwandan singer-songwriter who was formerly very popular in Rwanda.
He was born in Rwerere in the then northwestern prefecture of Gisenyi, the same region from which President Habyarimana and many other key figures in MRND party came.
At the time of the genocide, he was a well-known composer and singer of the popular music and director of the performance group Irindiro Ballet. He was also a civil servant in the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
Some months prior to the genocide, Bikindi allegedly consulted President Juvénal Habyarimana, Minister of Youth and Sports Callixte Nzabonimana and MRND and agreed with military authorities on the song lyrics” before releasing them to be played on the radio station, RTLM.
During the 100 days of genocide, Bikindi is alleged to have participated personally in the killings, both in Kigali and Gisenyi prefecture and helped to recruit and organize Interahamwe militias.
Bikindi is currently officially charged by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), with the following:
Conspiracy to commit genocide; genocide, or alternatively complicity in genocide; direct and public incitement to commit genocide, and murder and persecution, as crimes against humanity. This is a great shame that we artists regret and condemn the acts of Bikindi and others like him.