Philippe Kanamugire is one of the founder members of the Inteko Izirikana Association that educates and revives the Rwandan cultural values.
Born on January 1, 1928 in Muramba currently Ngororero District in the Western Province. At the age of 82, he is very trendy; he owns a Sony Eriksson phone, two pairs of glasses which he keeps changing every time he is reading a document and an old note book containing contacts especially phone numbers for members of the Inteko Izirikana Association.
Ineko Izirikana was founded in 1998 but was fully registered by the Government in July, 2003.
“We started Inteko Izirikana Association with 28 member founders although a few have died of old age therefore we are now 23 members.
The association was started with an aim of reviving cultural traits which were long lost due to the unfortunate periods faced by our country,” Kanamugire said.
The Association members go to different schools and teach history of the Rwandan culture that was unfairly tarnished by the colonialists.
“We provide information regarding culture to University students. Most of the time our work is voluntary, however, the Ministry of Sports and Culture funds some of our projects,” he said.
When asked to compare ancient cultural traits to modern ones he said:
“While growing up, we had the same cultural traits even if one visited far away relatives in another homestead. Today people have adopted different cultures while in exile.”
“Before the insurgencies that befell Rwanda, one was brought up in a kind of way that even if they went elsewhere they would find the same cultural traits.”
Regarding ancient and modern fashion he said: “Modern clothing is better than ancient clothing because ancient clothing would not cover the entire body compared to modern clothing. In ancient days people dressed in skins; the men would dress up in skins or Impunzu (backcloth), women would dress up in Inkanda (big cow skins) and the girls dressed up in ishabure (cow skins reaching the knees). However, the youth especially the girls dress up in skimpy clothes which contradict with cultural traits.”
When it comes to hair styles, Kanamugire said: “Attention was mostly drifted towrads the women whereby they had a particular hair style that defined the bachelorettes from the married women.”
Kanamugire attained education in the Seminary of Kabgayi and dropped out after reaching form four.
“When I dropped out of School, I became an interpreter for the Belgian colonialists in 1948,” Kanamugire narrates.
He said: “I interpreted for two years then later attained a job as a court clerk and wrote court proceedings for Rugerero the current Rubavu District for a period of two years.”
“I became the secretary and accountant officer for Bushiru (Rubavu District) and in 1953 I was shifted to Mukananje then to Iburenga Mubuliza currently Rulindo District.”
“In 1960 we were forced into exile due to the insurgencies of the time which were directed to a specific group of people, I then went to live in Zaire, the current Democratic Republic of Congo,” Kanamugire solemnly explains.
They were several challenges he faced while living in Congo so he fled to Kasese in Uganda.
“I was helped by a Belgian friend to escape Congo for fear that I would be handed over to Rwanda. While in Kasese I worked for a transit company and after four months I went back to Congo since it had attained its independence,” Kanamugire said.
In 1965 he went to live in Burundi and became an accountant officer for three different associations.
“I spent most of my life in Burundi and came back to Rwanda on September 9th, 1994 after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi,” he explains.
Regardless of his age, Kanamugire is an intellectual; he provides his information based on facts. He had to call up a few members of the association for the actual dates on which the association was registered by the government.
He is still married to his long time sweetheart and very beautiful Annociata Nyinawabaganwa.
“At 26, I married and that was a very late age to marry at the time. I was pursuing priesthood in Kabgayi Seminary hence the late marriage,” Kanamugire stresses.