Gakondo musicians mourn Munyanshongore

Yahaya Munyanshongore performing at a past event. Courtesy

Traditional music stars have been left in shock following the passing of National Ballet Urukerereza’s longest-serving traditional singer and dancer Yahaya Munyanshongore, who died on Friday evening at Kibagabaga Hospital, in Gasabo District.

Sources told The New Times the singer succumbed to respiratory complications. He was laid to rest on Saturday, July 18, at Nyamirambo Cemetery.


Munyanshongore was the eldest and longest-serving member of the National Ballet Urukurereza, where he spent two decades. He was the brains behind his unique traditional music style ‘Intwatwa’ which has been the trademark of the ballet since he took it over.


He was also a crucial member of Gakondo Group since its inception in 2013.


His death shocked traditional music figures including musician Masamba Intore who described Munyanshongore’s death as a huge loss to Rwanda’s traditional music.

“We really lost a big dancer and singer in Munyanshongore. He leaves a lot of souvenirs for me during our time together at the National Ballet,”

“He was an amazing figure for the national Ballet and Gakondo Group and still had energy to perform despite his advanced age. He will always be remembered,” Masamba told The New Times.

Masamba said, as Gakondo Group, they are planning to organise a tribute concert in honour of Munyanshongore for his contribution to promoting Rwandan culture through traditional music.

His untimely passing means the 75-year-old won’t be able to finalise the album project which he and his Gakondo compatriots were working on over the past twelve months. it is expected to be released next year.

“I could not help but cry when I heard the news about Yahaya’s death. I spent the whole night listening to the songs that he recorded together with the Gakondo group as part of the album that we were preparing to release,” said singer Jules Sentore said.

Sentore added that he learnt a lot from the singer especially in terms of stage performance skills but pledged that he and the fellow young generation are ready to keep the cultural heritage alive through Rwandan traditional music.

Munyanshongore is survived by a wife and seven children. The Ministry of Youth and Culture pledged to support his family during these hard moments.

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