Zenobia Dukundane; the passing of a legend

The sudden death of renowned traditional music icon Zenobia Dukundane on Friday has sparked tributes and a deep sense of loss in her home town of Rwamagana, Eastern Province
Zenobie Dukunde.
Zenobie Dukunde.

The sudden death of renowned traditional music icon Zenobia Dukundane on Friday has sparked tributes and a deep sense of loss in her home town of Rwamagana, Eastern Province.

Dukundane, 44, suffered a stroke on Tuesday and was rushed to King Faisal Hospital Kigali where he died three days later.

Not only was she a prolific composer and musician, she was also a generous person and enjoyed working with the youth, especially teaching them traditional music and dance, mourners said at her burial in Rwamagana yesterday.

“She was passionate about traditional dance with her conversation was always peppered with anecdotes about different pieces she has made, places she had performed from, and how other musicians reacted to her work. Her whole life was dominated by traditional music,” Joseline Murekatete, one of her trainees, said in her eulogy.

“Her death has dealt a huge blow to the traditional music industry, and has specially affected the young people who have been learning from her. For years she has taught the youth particularly in Rwamagana about Rwandan culture and music. She is such an irreplaceable household name,” Murekatete added.

Andrea Karasira, the husband to the deceased, said that Dukundane had dedicated her life to exploring, performing, and teaching traditional Rwandan music to the youth. “As a husband, I always supported her dream and it was encouraging to see the passion with which she did her work. Her dream was to sustain the Rwandan culture through music and dance”.

“Although she still wanted to do more, I’m confident that she managed to do most of her work before her untimely passing,” he said at the burial.

Nehemie Uwimana, the Mayor of Rwamagana District, told mourners that Dukundane’s death was a big loss to the country. “We join her former colleagues in the traditional music community, her family, friends and the rest of the community in mourning her death.  She has left behind a lasting legacy,” he said.

Uwimana said the late Dukundane used her talent to promote Rwandan culture by teaching traditional songs to the young and regularly visiting dancing troupes in different parts of the country to support help them in their work.

“It is a great loss indeed. We need to carry on with her cause and assist the youth she was training in her cultural troupe. As leaders, we will do all we can in this regard,” the mayor added.

Born in 1970, Dukundane started dancing while in secondary school. She later joined Garukurebe traditional dancing group led by Ranguida Mukantabana in the early 1980s. She took over leadership of the group after the death of Mukantabana. She is survived by her husband and two children. She was laid to rest yesterday in Rwamagana. Dukundane will be remembered for such songs as Garuka urebe, Indatwa, Rwanda warahogoye, and Bavandimwe Banyarwanda

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