Singer Eric Mucyo first set foot in his home country Rwanda in 1995, a year after the genocide against the Tutsi. His parents were refugees who fled to the Democratic Republic of Congo following the 1959 pogroms, and it’s where the singer was born.
Known for his Gakondo fusion genre of music, Mucyo was just ten when he came home. He reveals that remembering the tragic events of 1994 inspires some of his musical works, including his latest project, Inkovu which is enjoying ample airplay.
Tell us about Inkovu
Inkovu is a Kinyarwanda word which means scars. The content of the song is all-encompassing for everyone that is a Rwandan.
I was not born here but I lost many people in the genocide. That’s why I can’t forget. The song basically says we should remember every time we see the inkovu.
There are many kinds of inkovu. There is the physical inkovu that people bear on their skin, but there is also the inkovu that is inside the heart and many times when we see those inkovu both of the heart and of the skin, we start to remember many things. We used to have wounds, but now these wounds have turned into scars on our memory.
It maybe our family, our friends, our neighbors, so the song is to remind Rwandan people and to tell them let us use those inkovu to act as a bridge for future generations.
Any other genocide-themed songs?
My first song about the genocide is called Twubake Iwacu and it was recorded in 2014.
In the song, I was basically reminding Rwandan people about their history and particularly the history of genocide in Rwanda and how before the genocide we were living together as one.
Then with colonization division came between us. So it was basically to remind people about that time even though they were not born but we have the history.
As a singer, what does the genocide commemoration period mean to you?
During commemoration I just try to remember what happened. Many times it gives me inspiration for how to contribute in rebuilding my country. I try to share my experiences of life with young people and remind them about the importance of being patriotic for your country.
Away from the music, who is Eric Mucyo?
Interestingly I studied Sociology at ULK, Gisenyi Campus. After graduation I came to Kigali to look for a job. I went to the Mille Collines Hotel and quickly made contact with the resident band. I was taken in and put on a two months trial, after which I was given my first performance contract.
I worked at Mille Collines from 2007 until 2012 when my contract ended and moved to the Golden Hills Hotel in Nyarutarama. Currently I play on Friday evenings at the Kigali Serena Hotel.
In 1998, I recorded a music album, Tuze kukuramya with my cousin Faycal Ngeruka, Codo Ngabane, Ndagiyimana Peter, Shyaka Raoul, Baby Gasana, and Muhozi Alain –seven people in total. Together, we called our group Brothers, because we lived like a family.
We have a band called 3 Hills which is made up of me, Hope Irakoze, and Jackson Kalimba, and so far we have released three joint songs and a video. Currently each of us has individual gigs but we also make time for joint performances.
Our mission is to see how we can also export our music to the outside world especially in Africa.
Tell us about your style of music - Gakondo fusion
It’s a mix of our local music styles with Western musical influences like Hip Hop, Rn’B and Blues. The idea first came to me in 2009 when I thought of how to come up with an original product that would define who Eric Mucyo is to his fans.