Fred Iyakaremye the presenter of Iby'Iwacu, a local music slot that airs on Radio 10 every Sunday from 11:00am-1:00pm. The 22-year-old talked to Moses Opobo about the show’s dedication to authentic Rwandan music and the plague of giti (bribes) in the local broadcast industry …
What is your radio show, Iby'Iwacu all about?
Iby'Iwacu means ‘our things’ or ‘our origin’. The concept of this show is to teach or encourage artistes to do our original Rwandan music, and this is something completely different from Kinyarwanda music.
By Rwandan music I mean music that can show where you are from, for example Kinimba, or Umushayayo and so on. This is not to say that artistes must resort to old music, but modernise their music without leaving their originality.
I feel sad when I see artistes who imitate other cultures as if we don’t have our own!
A good example is the youthful artistes who want to sound and look like American, Jamaican, West African, and Congolese artistes. I don’t know why they imitate other cultures, instead of showing pride in their own culture, which is even better. That is why most of them can’t cross borders with their music, because you can’t export to someone what they already have.
I started the show as a way to encourage artistes to do live music as opposed to play back, because play back is not music. I wanted to give a voice to artistes who sing authentic music because many radio presenters don’t play that kind of music anymore. I think even some presenters try to be more of foreigners than Rwandan. It makes me laugh at these people who don’t want to be themselves.
How is the show organised?
There are two parts; in the first one, I host an artiste who can sing live using music instruments like the guitar, keyboard, and percussion. The second hour is dedicated to debate, and here I bring a music expert, producer, artiste, and anyone who has a relationship with local music or who can comment authoritatively on it and we share with the listeners. So far, I’ve worked with a number of artistes, like Cecile Kayirebwa, Kidum, Makanyaga Abdoul, Mavengesoudi, and big producers like Arontunga, Alpha Rwirangira, Jody, Peace, and many others.
Is it true that presenters take giti (bribes) from artistes to play their music?
Giti means corruption in music. It’s commonly seen when someone pays a presenter to have their song played, or when a woman offers sex for the same reason. It is the biggest problem we have in our music industry at the moment, because it means that artistes with good music but who can’t pay for it to be played are ignored. So in the end, good music is shelved away because some presenters and journalists are unpatriotic.
What needs to be done?
The Ministry of Sports and Culture should put in place laws to protect every musician. Many artistes believe that the ministry only takes care of football, but don’t forget that music is bigger than football. It can bring prestige and revenue to the country, and provide jobs as well.
Even the first national symbol, the national anthem, is a song.