Whoever thinks that the western music influence is only diluting the Rwandan culture should think again. It has become common talk that almost everything that comes down here from our European counterparts is for one purpose, to erase the values that our fore fathers have always guarded so jealously.
I certainly do not think so. Personally I can not imagine a life where I can not nod to the rhythm of rock music everyday and who says that by preferring rock music, I have lost my cultural values?
Most people especially the youth would rather board taxis to Nyamirambo and back just for the sake of listening to the ear-drum bursting music.
Take our music icons for example; attracting a huge fan base has been entirely as a result of their fashion efforts.
Most of the time, fans prefer to identify themselves with a particular musician based on the stage dress code and general personality of an individual. Brian Kwizera, a secondary student notes that, his love for someone’s music starts with the person’s appearance.
“Tom Close, is my kind of guy. During his performances, I can not help it but stare at his ears blingin’ as I wonder which place to purchase the same. I find such people very stylish and thanks to the western influence, I bet I would never look at him twice if it was not for his sense of style,” he confesses.
The fact that the Hip-hop music and culture have had great influence on the Rwandan youth should not necessarily translate into loss of Rwandan values. No, putting something in a museum does not imply that it is dead.
It actually means that such a thing is very significant and a vital part of our society. Hip-hop for example, is urban folk art, period!
And that urban folk art is about the lives of a very unique group of people, of how they made something out of nothing, and how that nothing has come to define an entire era in many ways, be it our fashion, our attitudes, our art, the way we make music, and the way we do and do not communicate.
If we look back at the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi that forced most of us to leave the country, it should not be very surprising that on return most children would rather stick to the dress code, music and habits that surrounded them while out there in those various countries.
This Western influence is sweeping the world over even through technology like television and radio so it is imperative to let everyone do what they love to do because one thing is for sure, it will not change who you are.
If it was not for this influence, some of our musicians would lack a marketing brand (fashion, stage performance…). It is therefore not a bad thing if changing one’s outer appearance puts some food on his plate anyway!
Chains, commonly known as “blings” have become a must have for most youth who believe that style is the in thing, but what is wrong with someone wearing something they like around their neck?
My take is that neither the western music or dress code or anything related to that will influence a person’s perception about their own culture.
Rwanda has a rich culture that is strong enough to survive any of these waves and this is evident by the traditional dance taught in “amatorero,” the famous traditional wear, “imishanana,” and our folk music.