DARIUS Rurangirwa also known as JAH BONE D, a Rwandan artiste living in Switzerland tells a story of marginalization as the most challenging thing, blacks in Europe face.
He observes that many Africans who come to study or to settle in Europe, are often shocked to realize that far from being a thing of the past, racism is still very much current a reality.
The Sunday Times’ Stephen Rwembeho met the charming artiste in his home village in Kavumu, along Lake Muhazi and they had a chat.
When and why did you go Europe
I went to Switzerland in 1998. This was after the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi; most of us were nursing the aftermath of the genocide. My relatives and children were killed. I was also tortured during the arrests of the so called accomplices of RPF. I hated the environment and was kind of traumatised, so when a chance came for me to change the environment, I never hesitated.
What do you make of life in Switzerland
Life in Europe generally is not easy. For many Africans who are trying to make a living, the cost of racism is very high. Every evil is black! We are marginalised and treated as if we are not equal human beings. This is the sad reality! We live realities of inequality in spite of the monumental achievements of human rights in Europe. You won’t feel it until you live in a white dominated community.
Do you sometimes enjoy life in Swistzerland as a musician
It is a developed country, so I accessed modern music instruments and renowned world musicians. It is this environment that enabled me to launch three albums; Intashyo and Le Belle.
I have three more albums, Love campaign with 12 Reggae songs, all prepared in Switzerland. So, the country facilitated me in advancing my music talent.
What kind of music do you play and why
I play Reggae because I was inspired by Bob Marley. I have had most of my music life in Switzerland. I managed to perform with famous Jamaican Reggae musicians like Rico Rodriguez, a renowned trombonist.
I also gained a lot of experience from the likes of artistes Yannick Noah, Skatelites and Lee S.Perry.
I actually draw my experience from black Africans’ lifestyle living in Europe. The kind of life prompted me to sing about love, peace and justice because it is lacking in the world.
Music makes us earn a living and when we are broke, we just go on streets and play music for money. Life may be tricky in some cases, so I play music to earn a living and spread the gospel as Bob Marley did. I see Bob as Jesus; he talked about love and peace.
You are a Rasta from the outlook; tell us about Rastafarianism and some people’s perception against it
It is unfortunate a lot of people do not understand what Rastafarianism is about. They relate it to drug abuse!
It is very wrong to see anybody with dreads as a marijuana smoker. When people with skin head take drugs, any arrest attempt wouldn’t spare people with dreads. We keep our hair to connect and differentiate us as Rastas. So, the negative attitude towards Rastafarianism is just ignorance.
Do you intend to stay the whole of your life in Switzerland or you will at some point think about retiring in your home village
I have actually developed nostalgia. I have had the opportunity to make choice, I would return to Rwanda tomorrow. So, for sure I can see myself in the near future back in my village along the beautiful Muhazi Lake. I used to enjoy fishing and hopefully I will do it again.
But of course, there is the other side, I am married to a Swiss woman and we have two beautiful children, a boy and a girl. That kind of relationship is not so easy to do away with. I will thus see how things will unfold, but I will certainly be back in Rwanda.
What do you do apart from music
Music takes most of my time; I am either composing or rehearsing or performing. But the little time I get I play with my babies.