Several Rwandan artistes will today take part in a memorial concert aimed at supporting elderly genocide survivors, mainly widows of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
The event organised by singer Dieudonne Munyanshoza commonly known as ‘Mibirizi’ and the Association of Student Genocide Survivors in Rwanda (GAERG/AERG) will take place today at Kigali Serena Hotel.
Munyanshoza, known for his genocide commemoration songs, will be marking 20 years since he recorded his first genocide-related song in 1995. The event will bring together different artistes including Maria Yohana, Aline Gahongayire, Tonzi and Eric Senderi among others.
“We wanted to do something that will impact on the lives of the aging genocide survivors mainly widows. What we will raise from CD sales between now and June will be used to support them and their households,” Munyanshoza told The New Times.
According to the singer, the event is free but those who will attend will be required to buy a double CD pack with both audio and visual, at a price of Rwf10, 000, which will go to the cause.
“It is a cause me and members of GAERG and AERG thought would make a huge difference in the lives of these elderly and lonely people, some of whom lost their entire families. Focus will be on those living in rural areas,” said Munyanshoza.
According to the President of GAERG Charles Habonimana, the drive is part of their campaign to make a difference in vulnerable lives of genocide survivors.
“We have been doing many activities in line with supporting needy and vulnerable families of genocide survivors and we believe this activity will also impact on the lives of ageing genocide survivors as we tell them that they are not alone even as old age catches up with them,” Habonimana said.
According to the organisers of the Kwibuka concert, music has played an integral role in commemorating, encouraging and comforting genocide survivors with the likes of Munyanshoza dedicating their entire musical career to genocide commemoration songs.
“Music has played a positive role in conserving the memories of the genocide. Today there will be more than 20 artistes who will not only be singers but also poets, visual artistes, actors and all. Each one of us will be doing something in memory of genocide victims,” Munyashoza says.
According to a survey done by GAERG/AERG, some genocide survivors have since aged, finding themselves leading lonely and isolated lives, with no one to help them when sick or in need of physical support, despite receiving support from the government, including houses.
These include people who survived the genocide when aged 50, meaning that today they are 71 years old. Yet some had their families wiped out or survived with one or two more people.
Some have since lost their loved ones who survived.
According to GAERG members, it was found that some of the elderly survivors do not require financial support alone but also physical support to help them access different services like accessing their bank accounts among others.
The drive will see the youth take up the task of identifying the elderly survivors and supporting them in their daily lives.
“We encourage every Rwandan with a heart for our elderly people to come and attend this concert and support this cause,”
“Every penny that will be raised from selling these CDs will go to this cause. Also it is an opportunity to experience the importance of music in the commemoration period,” said Habonimana, adding that the youth under GAERG/AERG will continue with different activities during the commemoration period.