Ikobe is a five member Band based at the National University of Rwanda and has firmly assimilated itself into Rwanda’s music scene. Samuel Kamanzi, one member of the Band talked to The New Times’ journalist Paul Ntambara about Ikobe’s music style and future plans.
What is the meaning of ‘Ikobe’ and why did you choose that name?
Ikobe is a Kinyarwanda word meaning “a cry of joy” typical of Intore (Rwandan male traditional dancers). Ikobe is a cry of celebration, and a way of expressing joy. We chose this name to keep the spirit of celebration in our music.
How many songs have you recorded since Ikobe Band was formed?
The group started in 2006, during the celebration to mark the Francophone Day at the University Centre for Arts. We have released four songs; including “Abahizi”, “Mbese Muraho”, and “Afrika ni kwetu”. All our songs have received massive airtime on the local FM stations and we are planning to release our first album this year.
What is unique about your music?
We play acoustic African music with a strong Rwandan influence. We don’t have a band leader; this leaves each member of the group to freely express and share their love through the music we play.
Ikobe Band is comprised of four members; Thierry (percussionist, singer), Moise Mutangana (guitarist, singer), Emmanuel (guitarist, singer), and Tharcisse Biraguma (singer).
Tell us about your success performances
We have performed in various places and at different functions. This year we were honoured to perform during the Imbuto Foundation meeting before President Paul Kagame and a host of government dignitaries.
We have also performed during the Arts Azimuts Festival II that attracted artists from different African countries like Burkina Faso, Mexico, France, Cambodia, Senegal and Chad.
Furthermore, we participated and emerged second in a music competition; ‘Decouverte de Musique d’Afrique Central’ organised by the association ‘Le Reve Africain’, which was attended by participants from DRC, Burundi, Gabon, Congo Brazzaville and Angola.
What future plans do you have for Ikobe?
Our plate is full. We are going to participate in the Mundial Music festival held in Holland in June this year. We want to promote Rwandan music and Rwandan artists by creating a structure where we can exchange knowledge about music, especially from the older generation.
What is your perception of Rwanda’s music industry?
Rwanda’s music industry is quickly growing as a result of the many emerging artists.
That is a good sign for the music industry but we still have a lot to do. However, the industry still lacks professionalism and we need strict laws on copyright protection. There is also a need to put in place distribution channels for music.