Cécile Kayirebwa last graced a music stage on in November last year, in a concert to mark her 70th birthday at the Kigali Serena Hotel.
After the successful concert, she did not fly back to Belgium where she is based. Instead, she stayed around to put her energies in preparing for her biggest annual music fest, the “Inganzo ya Kayirebwa” concert.
This year’s event happens on April 2nd, at the Kigali Marriott Hotel. It is the fourth edition.
Since its inception in 2012, the show has been staged at different locations towards the end of March. Last year it was held at Hotel des Mille Collines, while in 2015 the event went out of town, at Masaka Farm in Gasabo district of Kigali. In 2014, it was held at the Ahava River Hall in Kicukiro.
For a musician that is considered a custodian of Rwandan folk music and traditional values, Kayirebwa’s event is more than just music and a quick buck to be made from it. It’s about remembrance, healing and hope –a powerful symbol of transition to the commemoration period for the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi
Last year she used the occasion to launch her seventh studio album, Urukumbuzi, which boasts eleven tracks.
In the same tradition, this year she will be releasing not one, but three albums concurrently. But these will not be her own original compositions, but songs that were penned by other legendary Rwandan folk musicians, most of who have since passed on.
Inganzo is the brainchild of Ceka I Rwanda, a production company founded by Kayirebwa herself. It is a not-for-profit organization whose main mission is to preserve, protect and archive the cultural heritage of Rwanda through music, dance and poetry. She runs the organization with her close family and friends.
According to Eric Soul, Kayirebwa’s son, two of the albums due for release are made up of songs by two folk music composers that have since passed on.
“She promised them and their families years and years ago, that she would redo their songs because they are so wonderful and have become part of the country’s popular folk music landscape,” Soul explained.
“They passed away so she wants to honor the promise to their families and to their memory.”
Kayirebwa embarked on the process of recording the songs with Rwandan producers last year.
“When she’s here she’s in studios or in rehearsals, working with young musicians and producers,” Soul explained.
She recorded the third album with talented musicians from the Batwa community.
“She rehearsed with them and took them into studio for recording, then went with the recordings to Belgium and worked on the songs with different young Rwandan producers in Belgium and while she was here, introduced some inanga to the songs, working with Deo Munyakazi,” Soul added.
Through the years, the concerts have come to symbolize Kayirebwa’s love for working with and inspiring other Rwandan musicians, especially the younger generation. It was not by co-incidence that she chose such a name “Inganzo”, which means inspiration.
Some of the artistes that have graced previous editions are; Deo Munyakazi, Mighty Popo Murigande, Eric 1 Key, Moutcho Band, Mirreile Mukakigeli and the Harmony Band, among others.
The shows are typically multi-media and multigenerational.
There is a showcase part, a multi media part with presentations and documentaries that people don’t know, and transmissions part where young singers and artistes get to re-imagine, re-interpret and perform her catalogue of songs, and there is also an interactive part –usually a journalist moderating the talk between the audience and Kayirebwa.
The event acts as a fund raiser too, to continue with the mission of Ceka I Rwanda.
It attracts a multi-generational audience of dedicated fans; the young, teenagers, the creative industry, government officials, CEOs, and grandmothers travelling from far corners of the country.