Rafiki Mazimpaka: life in a musician’s world

He is no stranger to you, even if you are not a regular radio listener. But fortuitously, I met and got to know him beyond the musician he is and the celebrity he has become.

He is no stranger to you, even if you are not a regular radio listener. But fortuitously, I met and got to know him beyond the musician he is and the celebrity he has become.

Even with awe and marvel written so conspicuously on my face, when he opened the door for me into his house in Kicukiro, he tried so hard to make everything appear normal.

Not more than twenty minutes after my arrival, three boys and one little girl joined us.

They had come to visit. They were aged between four and seven.

More pleasantries were exchanged and I kept wondering why young children found pleasure in coming to his home.
Could it be because they freely watch TV or was it an issue of curiosity?

On both accounts, I guess I was wrong.
"I am congenitally incapable of hating children." he told me when I asked him just how many kids visit him.

Looking around his house armed with information about his job and career, Rafiki presented to me a picture of a man at the pinnacle of the famed Kilimanjaro Mountain and introduced him as Mr. Beanman.

“This is my hero.” He said, adding, “He is my mentor.”
“I strongly disagree with your interpretation of success," he had told me in an earlier phone conversation before the visit.

“Success is a collective and not an individual thing.

These days you will see it if from someone's academic papers, material property and the glamour in which they present themselves and for me, this is not success”.

He went on to lecture.
Success can only be a fantasy in our minds and hearts. Or at least that is what many people have lived to tell.

But not for Rafiki Mazimpaka commonly known for his Igikobwa fame. For this coga style musician, triumph was his long childhood desire.

With this twist, my interview on his success just did not hit the mark and so our talk strayed to music.

“Five years ago, I sat isolated in the school compound and made a startling decision.

I thought if I surely worked hard to improve my talent, I would be a great musician without uncertainty.” he narrated as we relocated from the living room to the study
Luckily, his God overheard him and since then he has never looked back.

The young man’s life started its road to such prominence that on 3rd November, in Kampala, he lifted the Pearl of Africa Music award as the best Rwandan male artist.

A first born child in a family of six, Rafiki was born on 25th December 1983 in Goma, a town at the Congo/Rwanda boarder.

This is where he grew and went to school up to senior three before his family moved to back Rwanda.

“When the Genocide eventually ended in 1994, I could not wait to come back home. My heart rejoiced and wished it would never happen again”, stretching to reach out for his cup of tea, the enthusiastic, soft-spoken Rasta man recounts.

 Soon after reaching home, Rafiki enrolled again in school and joined Derniere evangelization choir in Kicukiro; a bright star was just beginning to shine down on him and this marked the beginning of fame for the then budding musician.

He did some work outside music but identified his talent while he was still young.

He had discussions with various people and heard their chronicles.

These were his greatest and only source of inspiration to start his music carrier.

“At first I used to act comedy, and then I later realised that I could also sing.

I weighed people’s opinions and worked hard in everything.

I was born a hard worker.” the youthful superstar narrates.

After his senior six, Rafiki tried to put together his first song “IGIPENDE" at SH studio here in Kigali.

It was later released at Contact FM studio and his life took another turn.

His passion for African musicians and reggae music in particular is evidently untamable.

He picked a DVD from his huge collection of mainstream Classicals and then we heard a soothing sound track of Lucky Dube’s One love.

From an earlier interview, such music is the source of Rafiki’s relaxation.

Dressed in a black armless bearing Bob Marley’s portrait, he points at Lucky Dube’s picture across the wall and laments his assassination saying, “he was a great singer a true African nationalist and statesman. He is one person I will surely miss that’s why I can’t stop playing his music.

May his soul rest in eternal peace.”

Rafiki will attend an Afro-Caribbean peace festival at Saint Martin’s carnival village from which he will proceed to Jamaica on the invitation of home boys Morgan Heritage and Lion Dee.

He didn’t hide his thrill for being the only African alongside Uganda’s Jose Chameleon who will attend the Charity event to take place on Saturday 8 December 2007.

“Am so happy and I think I deserve it. We must show that our continent is no longer a dark one.

This will be yet another chance to prove our ability. Chameleon is a great songster and with him Jamaica is going to quake,” explains the passionate champion.

Rafiki has demonstrated to the public that the unfortunate things that happen in this world don’t take him by surprise and that he does everything in his reach to stop these regrettable events from affecting his future.

He has condemned Africa’s constant wars in his song Christmas in Darfur together with Daddy Casanova who he describes as a great critic and I guess the 'wind beneath his wings'.

“I didn’t like it when Thierry left for Barcelona but Fabregas and Van Persie will make us forget him.” he said of his favourite team stroking his lengthy dread locks and staring up at the ceiling as if trying to remember every single detail of that fateful day.

When I had finished having dinner with him, he walked me to the gate and as we strolled out, I asked whether he has a girl friend.

“I hope to get one soon but as for now am single and not searching. I am still comfortable this way,” he replied.


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