Thirty five years after the legendary reggae singer Bob Marley passed on, his legacy still lives on, thanks largely to the messages of love and unity that his music espoused.
In memory of this outstanding legacy, birthday anniversary celebrations in honour of the reggae legend have been held across the globe every May 11, the date on which he died in 1981.
In Rwanda, the celebrations have come to be synonymous with Mulindi Japan One Love, popularly known as Kwa Rasta in Kimihurura.
This year, the celebrations have been dubbed Bob Marley Festival, and for the first time, will run for three days, from May 11-13.
To headline this year’s event is the Lion Story reggae band from Burundi. The 10-member band first performed in Rwanda in 2012, at the KigaliUp Music Festival. They have since returned to Kigali for a few concerts, although it’s the first time they will be performing at the Bob Marley birthday celebrations in Kigali.
“This is a joint project between Mulindi-Japan One Love and Lion Story. We have known One Love before as a place that promotes peace and love, and the owner, Gatera Rudasingwa even has some charity projects he runs in Burundi. So we knew each other before,” explained Igirukwigomba Patience aka Passy, the band’s lead vocalist and percussionist.
“We have always performed at Bob Marley birthday concerts in Burundi, but since we are not in our country and can’t also perform there, we decided to hold it here because also many of our fans who are Burundians are living in Rwanda due to the insecurity in Burundi at the moment,” he added.
Performing as guest artists is the Rwandan reggae outfit Strong Voice, who are more familiar with the Bob Marley anniversary celebrations, having performed consistently at all of them since 2010.
“It’s a pleasure to welcome our brothers and sisters from Lion Story to Rwanda. We have been busy preparing a surprise for our fans and on Wednesday we shall unveil it,” remarked Dusabimana Heritier, the leader of Strong Voice.
Strong Voice is a family band that originally started out as Kidz Voice, and is made up of five siblings (three brothers and two sisters).
Amidst all hardships, the then kids’ band recorded a 14-song album titled, African Child at Dreamland Studios in Bujumbura, released in 2011.
In 2013, the siblings took a decision to change the name of the band from Kidz Voice to Strong Voice. Last year, the band performed at the DOADOA East African Performing Arts Market in Uganda.
Proceeds from the festival will go towards the Mulindi-Japan One Love Project, an initiative that provides artificial limbs and IT training to people with disabilities in Rwanda.
Other acts lined up for the celebrations are; Kwanda band (Rwanda), Ras Clan Entertainment (Uganda), and Dub Armada (Germany).