Rwanda’s cultural ambassador Jean-Paul Samputu based in the USA took part in a Reconciliation Symposium in Calgary’s Island Park - Canada, last Saturday, The New Times has learnt.
The Symposium focused on what it means to live in a war-torn world as a child soldier and a refugee.
Samputu performed the art of reconciliation with Sudan’s Emmanuel Jal in a one week Festival called Afrikadey.
The 17th annual Afrikadey Festival included celebration of African culture in the largest city in the southern part of Alberta province in Canada.
The festival featured several events throughout the week such as a poetry jam, drum and dance workshops, dance parties, art exhibits and several free concerts.
Saturday’s main festival featured artists from all over Canada and across the globe performing in both traditional and modern African musical styles.
The first Rwandan musician to establish true international visibility is expected to be in Rwanda by the end of this year where he will be performing in various events.
Among several other events the Rwanda’s international cultural ambassador will participate in include another reconciliation related performance at Peace and Reconciliation Day Montréal, Québec, Canada.
A winner of the prestigious Kora Award equivalent to the American Grammy Award in 2003, he sings the message of peace, forgiveness, unity, love and reconciliation.
A survivor of the genocide in Rwanda, Samputu, was born in 1962, and began singing in 1977 in a church choir, largely influenced by traditional and contemporary music, including that of Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, and Lionel Richie.
He went to USA in 2004 to launch the Ten Years Remembering album commemorating the 10th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda.
Samputu has been educating young people about genocide through panel discussions and forums at colleges and universities across the country.
He is one of only two African artists to perform for the World Culture Open at the Lincoln Center in New York, and has also performed for the UN High Commisioner for Refugees on World Refugees Day.
Samputu sings in six languages and in styles ranging from soukous, and rhumba to traditional Rwandan 5/8, Afro-beat, pygmy, and gospel.