Local deejay on showcasing Africa’s heritage through music and art

In 2018, Kevin Rugamba, a.k.a K’Ru, founded Pineapple Undertones- an edutainment platform that seeks to uncover, explore and promote African musical traditions by preserving its past and documenting its present.

His idea was inspired by a fascination for African music and culture, however he was also pushed by a need for Africa to take greater ownership of its future.

 

For K’Ru, although this platform was founded two years ago, the inspiration was a long journey that stemmed from a passion for music, an interest in African culture and pan Africanism. 

 

“It started out of my passion for deejaying and it’s been mainly about a curated set of mixes and live DJ sets, exploring a wide range of African musical genres but also exploring how Africa exists in the diaspora,” Rugamba says.

 

The platform has since grown to encompass workshops that have been designed and delivered at universities, as well as conservations that emerged during lockdown when he leveraged Instagram live sessions and invited various guests that are of African origin to discuss the songs that make them proud to be African.

He explains the idea behind the name of his platform noting that his choice of a pineapple fruit connotes a deeper meaning. 

“The pineapple as a fruit represents warmth and hospitality and is also considered a regal fruit. So, I chose this fruit to symbolise our African music and culture. And the ‘undertones’ imply the traits and identity in our music, which I hope can enable us to have a more conscious appreciation for the wealth and the potential of our music. This will play a big role in growing our economies and making us wealthier societies,” he adds.

He appreciates how society has welcomed his initiative.

“It’s nice to see that there are many people that are taking to it by appreciating the music and conversations. I wanted to foster a community, but it has exceeded my expectations and people are appreciating the content,” he says.

Exploring more with visual art

Art, for K’Ru, means different forms of expression in one. This is why he wants to be as versatile as possible in the different ways to express his beliefs, his feelings and the different ideas to communicate and inspire others beyond just using words.

As such, he has also explored art through graphic design, a skill he has been deliberate about developing in the past couple of years.

“I hope that there are more opportunities in the future because I believe in being versatile and being curious about learning new skills,” he says.

As the Community and Culture Lead at the African Leadership University, he had the opportunity to co-curate the murals at the university’s new campus that depict various forms of African heritage and culture.

“That was very exciting because it was a new area I was exploring, and learning to express the richness of our culture and heritage visually as opposed to curating a playlist.”

“Though music has been the core form of art that I have explored so far, I have always been curious about other disciplines, whether its visual arts, graphic design, paintings or fashion. I have had the opportunity to explore these other art forms.”

“With the murals,” he adds, “it was an opportunity to showcase that we have a lot of history, rich culture and wherever you go around the campus, you have an opportunity to discover more about our past and imagine a future that includes Africa. All the implementation was done by local artists.”

Emerging murals have been part of the growing art scene in Rwanda. Seeing how much the city has appreciated the murals gives Rugamba hope that local talent will be given the opportunity to showcase more of their art around the city.

“I have had the opportunity to meet various street artists and curators and I know it’s still emerging, we still don’t see it much around but when you see it there is some really nice work out there.

The mural project at our new campus opened my mind to explore this new space to develop experiences in visual arts with murals and street art. I am very impressed with the local talent and I am looking forward to working with local artists to carry out similar projects and different skills because I do believe that it is a medium of expression that has a lot of potential not just in this city but regionally,” he says.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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