Local gospel singer Aline Gahongayire has found herself in the middle of a storm after a video of her emerged seemingly denigrating Rwandan media, in what many condemned as misplaced pride for the ‘Ndanyuzwe’ singer.
In the video, Gahongayire is captured talking about her high profile divorce in 2017, noting that after months of speculation in local media, she broke the news of her divorce on Voice of America (VOA), in Washington DC, adding that she could only do it on VOA or BBC, not the likes of local radio station Isango Star, which are not at her level.
Since 2015, reports in local media suggested that the singer had parted ways with her then husband Gabriel Gahima, but she would not deny or confirm the reports until 2017, when the court officially granted the couple the right to divorce.
The remarks infuriated many, mainly journalists who weighed in, reminding her that if it was not for the local media, she would not be where she is today, with some calling for her music to be muted.
The debate drew in dozens of commentators, mainly on social media, with many calling out the ‘Be Blessed’ show presenter on Rwanda Television (RTV) for being too proud.
The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Olivier Nduhungirehe, also weighed in on the debate, pointing out that Rwandan media is fit to serve Rwandans regardless of their status, adding that it is not right for anyone to denigrate local media, especially someone purporting to be “God’s servant”, who should be meek as the Bible demands.
The official also went on to defend Isango Star, pointing out how the private TV and radio station is one of “the best and professional media outlets in the country.”
“Last month I was hosted to a talkshow on Isango Star, which was professionally conducted and well researched. In my day-to-day duties, I have been hosted by different Rwandan media outlets, and to me they are better than VOA, BBC, France 24 or any other foreign outlets (on Rwandan issues),” Minister Nduhungirehe posted.
Gahongayire’s comments were met by disapproval, with the Rwanda Showbiz Journalist Forum (RSJF), a platform of showbiz journalists, condemning the singer for looking down on local media, which promoted her to becoming one of the most known gospel singers in the country to date.
“Showbiz journalists have played a big role in promoting local artistes and their music. We call upon Rwandans to pay no attention to Gahongayire’s remarks in the videos circulated on social media platforms,” reads part of the statement signed by Joel Rutaganda, the legal forum representative.
Attempts to get a comment from Gahongayire over her latest scandal were futile, as she rejected to speak to this newspaper. “No comment, thank you,” she texted back on Sunday.
Emmy Nsengiyumva, a local showbiz journalist, said the singer might be holding a grudge against some local media outlets, for the stories they might have published about her private life.
“I don’t think she said all that inconsiderately. I honestly think she said what had always been on her mind, and wanted to unleash it. Also, I think that all the media coverage she has received in the past about her music as a gospel artiste, made her think that she is a top superstar, thus can’t associate herself with “ordinary” people. That’s wrong! I wish to advise Gahongayire to apologise to the local media for defamation,” he said.
Another journalist, Irene Mulindahabi from Isango Star radio/ TV, wondered why the singer doesn’t run to VOA when she releases new music, or when she’s organising concerts, instead of always contacting the local media.
The singer is yet to publicly comment on the remarks, which have left local media angry, with some radio stations vowing to ‘archive’ her music until she categorically apologises.