FOCUS : The struggling but promising music industry in Rwanda

When I went for the Rwandatel sponsored concert wrapping up Tom Close’s album launch a few months ago, it was purposely to watch the Ugandan duo singers Mowzey Radio and Weasel as they do their songs like Bread and butter, Potential and Zuena which are also big hits in Kigali.

When I went for the Rwandatel sponsored concert wrapping up Tom Close’s album launch a few months ago, it was purposely to watch the Ugandan duo singers Mowzey Radio and Weasel as they do their songs like Bread and butter, Potential and Zuena which are also big hits in Kigali.

But what happened is that the stars from Uganda actually didn’t make my night. It was our own R&B crooners who made an impression on me, and just like other struggling but passionate and talented young stars, they put up an unbelievable performance.

For long, I had heard quite a number of really beautiful R&B songs on radio but I had a problem with identifying who was who behind what song.

As I sat in front keenly following the event, there came a Twista styled rapper. He was rapping so rapidly that it took me a while to grasp a word. This guy’s name is DMS and he is one of the upcoming MC’s.

The beauty about Rwandan music is that 96 percent of it is done in Kinyarwanda.

However, the singers have mastered the art of blending their songs with spontaneous melodies and rhythms which has won the hearts of other music listeners elsewhere.

The music industry in Rwanda, has continued to blossom despite a general indifference it suffered in the past at the hands of the public.

Musicians elsewhere are respected and supported. But here, they are treated with contempt on top of having to struggle on their own.

Music and entertainment are important in society. Through music, art and entertainment, culture is passed on. Good morals are propagated and the bad ones condemned, on top of being a source of entertainment.

The music industry in Rwanda is currently serving a wide range of listeners. We have hip hop, R&B, gospel, traditional folk songs, traditional blues and other blends.

According to Linda Mbabazi, a journalist who has been observing the music industry here for over 14 years, a lot has changed, both in societal perception of the music fraternity and the quality.

She observes that Rwandan musicians, are doing their best to better their works but they are hindered by inadequate funds and absence of music production houses. This comes partly due to little investment in the industry.

Another aspect that has negatively impacted on music here, is the fact that musicians are taken for granted and most times not respected.

For instance, local companies give them little money after doing their promotional shows yet they give visiting artists a lot of money. This leaves the local musicians disgruntled and unchanged.

The strength with most of Rwandan Music is that it is original and packaged with a cultural touch. This gives it a universal appeal and is embraced by the young and adult.

Some of the popular musicians in Rwanda in their different genres are; Masamba, Tom Close,Meddy aka Amayobera, The Ben and Riderman.

Ends