Tribute concert for legendary musician Minani Rwema due

Sylvain de Joie Ifashahayo, the concert coordinator, speaks during a news conference. Looking on is fallen music legend Minani Rwema’s wife, Jackline Umuliza. Photo by Eddie Nsabimana

Last year, Rwandan Diaspora students organised a concert to honour legendary musician Anonciata Utamuliza, who was best known by her stage name Kamaliza. The concert was in recognition of her contribution to the Rwandan music industry and to nation building in general.

This year, the students are back with a similar mission and have organised a concert to pay tribute to another legendary musician, Minani Rwema. The concert is slated for August 24 at Kigali Serena Hotel.

Dubbed Umurage Nyawo, the concert is part of the students’ ‘Critical Thinking for Peace’ initiative that aims at educating and inspiring Rwandan youth to become patriotic citizens.

The musicians honoured in these concerts are selected based on how influential their music was in shaping and building Rwandan society.

Rwema, who died from a liver disease in 2008, built a remarkable reputation, thanks to his songs with messages that appealed to people of all ages.

He composed wedding songs, some described the beauty of the country, and, he used his talent in a comical manner and made people laugh.

He was popular for songs like Sur La Terre, Mpore Rwanda, Amahoro, Kigali Nziza, Malaika and C’est la Vie, to mention a few.

Sylvain de Joie Ifashahayo, the event coordinator, said Rwema’s songs and background will help build the young generation.

“Rwema’s songs hold messages that we, the young generation, need to hear and draw inspiration from. It’s a pity to hear that the young generation do not know a musician like him, but at least let’s give them a chance to know these legends through this platform so they are not forgotten. The initiative is here to stay because Rwanda has had many legendary people who can inspire the young generation,” he said.

Jackline Umuliza, his widow, fondly remembers the Sur La Terre singer and says the initiative comes at the right time, as she too had a vision to make a public dedication to her deceased husband.

“I take time to remember him but in small ceremonies. I hoped that one day, I’d organise a big event like this, and make it open to all those who loved him. Now the dream has come true. I am really thankful that there are people who had the same idea,” Umuliza said.

“I want to thank the organisers for this initiative and encourage them to continue helping us remember our loved ones in an open manner, this is the biggest gift for me. The rest, be it financial support or anything else, is an addition,” she added.

Umuliza said of her late husband, “He was a patriotic citizen and fan of culture and, most importantly, he was a friend to people of all ages. The message I have for the youth is that they should embrace culture and patriotism.”

Various artistes are lined up to perform and a number of the fallen music legend’s songs will be performed in honour of his legacy. The artistes include Knowless, Mani Martin, Jules Sentore, Ange and Pamela, Andy Bumuntu, and Audia Intore.

The concert will also be graced by renowned traditional musicians Masamba Intore, Maria Yohana Mukankuranga, and Jean-Marie Muyango.

A documentary on Rwema’s life will also be screened during the concert.

Entrance is Rwf5, 000 for regular seats, Rwf10, 000 for VIPs and Rwf20, 000 for VVIPs. Part of the funds expected to be raised from the concert will be given to Rwema’s family. The rest will be used to fund the initiative’s other activities.