Jean-Chrysostome Tuyishime aka Krizzo is one of the reggae music heavy weights in Rwanda.
According to Krizzo the Rwandan society is still hostile to reggae music because of its perceived link to the Rastafarian movement. He says reggae musicians and fans must fight this perception by being positive role models through their music and social life.
The soft-spoken dreadlocked Krizzo claims that reggae artistes are now out to salvage their place on the Rwandan music scene. Joseph Oindo talked to Krizzo to find out more about his life and music.
Can you tell us about yourself?
I was born in 1987 here in Kigali. I am the 11th born out of 14 children. I did my primary school at a church sponsored school in Kiyovu called St. Family School. I proceeded to St. Joseph in Gitarama for my secondary education. Right now, I’m a student at the University of Tourism Technology and Business Studies in the Faculty of Business and Information Technology
What was your passion as a young boy?
As a young boy, I didn’t have passion for anything. I was always an introvert and standing in front of people was a big problem for me. I attribute this factor to my position in our family tree. Being 11th born doesn’t give you that limelight and this had a profound influence on my early life.
How did you discover your passion for music?
My parents were, and still are, staunch Christians and we never missed church. In church, even though I was still shy, I used to take part in church activities like singing in the choir and this is when I discovered that I had talent for singing.
How did singing at an early age transform you from being shy?
I felt that I couldn’t fulfill my dreams in life by continuing to live inside my own cocoon. I had to step out of it and assert myself.
When did you make your breakthrough in music?
Shortly after finishing my secondary, one day I closed myself in my room and did some deep introspection. I interrogated myself and decided to follow my passion: My deep love for Reggae music. Thus, I locked all my certificates in a safe and said that I would step out and look for music opportunities.
I approached a producer called Gatongore, then of Jungle Records and I did my first song called, Nzabarirande (meaning whom can I talk to?). He liked the song, produced it and it became a major hit in a number of radio stations. I later did a video version of it. The rest, as they say is history.
How did your family react when you decided to embark on a music career?
My parents were skeptical about my foray into music. They couldn’t realise my musical talent. Thus getting instruments to harness my passion was a problem.
In light of your strong Christian background, why did you venture into reggae, instead of gospel music?
Any genre of music can pass on a message. Contrary to popular belief that reggae music is a protest kind of music, adored more in the streets by ruffians, I use my music to fight this kind of segregation. All people are equal before the eyes of God, notwithstanding ethnic background, political affiliation and status in life.
What’s the status of reggae music in Rwanda?
Society still associates reggae with unwanted elements in society. They see reggae musicians and fans as rebels who take drugs. The Rastafarians are mistaken for people who cannot do important things in society.
How do you intend to change this perception?
As reggae artists, it’s vital that we pass the message that we also have passion for what we do. There’s a Rwandan proverb that says: Umukobwa aba umwe agatukisha bose, which means that not all Catholics who drink alcohol are not Christians. You can be a Rastafarian without doing drugs or spotting dreadlocks. I just want to be a role model by being on the right side of society and spreading my message of love and inclusiveness through reggae music.
And what do you intend to do for the fledgling reggae music in Rwanda?
We have a two day concert on May 10th and 11th. I have linked with a number of Rwanda reggae artistes like Clispin, Ben Nganji and Ras Love and we are preparing something that will change the face of reggae music here. The event is called Rwanda Reggae Festival and it will coincide with Bob Marley’s commemoration.
Reggae fans should prepare themselves for a great treat, and they are also going to listen to some of my songs that I’m going to launch on that occasion.