he New Times reporter Eugene Mutara caught up with Marie Jeanne Mukankuranga (prodigy cultural singer) and they had a long chat. Excerpts:
TNT: What is the role of artists in fighting Genocide ideologies?
Mukankuranga: Artists have done a lot in the battle against the ideologies, but people’s mind take slow to change. Genocide ideology is something that has lived for years, so it will go slowly, but what I can say is that artists should continue the struggle.
TNT: Do you have any thing particular?
Mukankuranga: All local artists should have positive minds in order to save the nation’s values, more especially Rwandan culture.
TNT: when did you start singing?
Mukankuranga: Since my childhood. I was taught to sing by my own father, Faustian Gacinya who used sing and dance in the King’s palace.
I used to sing in a sisters’ convent and church choir until I became a teacher.
So I went a head with teaching songs to pupils during co-curricular activities school hours. I was a teacher, you know.
My teaching profession did not hinder me from singing but rather facilitated me.
I did not stop even when we were refugees in Uganda, I taught my fellow refugees. I also taught them singing, dancing in Rwandan Culture.
I was one of the founders of Indahemuka culture troupe; I remember when late Kamaliza came to a refugee camp in Uganda, looking of me so that we may have a joint singers group. We formed it and it is now called Indahemuka.
I had my friend who died (Annemarie Murekeyisoni) who also taught in a nearby primary school. We shared the same noble cause of teaching Kinyarwanda songs.
TNT:When did you join Idahemuka?
Mukankuranga: It was around 1992 after ‘the Inkotanyi, started the struggle.
TNT: Who is Mukankuranga?
Mukankuranga: I don’t know how I can explain myself because my history is full of many things. Well I was born on 5th/12/1943 in Kazo, Ngoma district of Eastern Province. I love singing and my country too. I compose songs and sing. During my youth time I used to dance, but gone are those days as I can’t now dance. I am grown up, I am too old to dance.
TNT: How many songs have you composed?
Mukankuranga: Oh, hhm... I really don’t know because I can compose a song at any time. I reached an extent of composing songs for the occasions like 100 days of Kigali City or many other political and social events.
So I have not been in a position to compile my songs in music but I have them in my file and some of them were published including; Intinzi bana burwanda, that hit the air waves during the liberation struggle.
TNT: Do you remember the song you first composed?
Mukankuranga: I can’t remember well now, but, my memory usually goes to a song I used to teach my pupil called Icyamara agahinda. It sent messages about our home land because we were Refugees living in camps. I remember some people came from Kampala in admiration of the song and the good singer who was me.
We used to sing those inspiring songs mostly on 20th of June which was a refugee day.
TNT: Did you stop singing?
Mukankuranga: I continued singing since I returned to Rwanda up to now.
I have many songs and I hope I will record them one day.