Last week I was invited to my ex girlfriend’s introduction ceremony and I happily attended (yes, we are just friends now).
While there, everything went well till the time when dancers are supposed to lighten up the moment. Everybody was astonished when instead of Ikinimba dancers, an Alpha look-alike suddenly appeared, singing a Shania Twain song with six back up salsa dancers.
The boy’s elderly father started shaking his head in disgust, wondering what kind of uncultured girl his son was going to end up with. I could feel his pain.
Many of you will agree with me that at functions, like a wedding, guests are more excited by traditional dancers, not some girls shaking their butts with their thongs showing. It’s disrespectful.
I know that in this day and age things have become modernised…I’ve actually witnessed some kids dancing some sort of cross between break-dance and Ikinimba.
As a Rwandan, I expect dancers to represent our culture in every aspect of life. Whether it’s in the way we dress or speak, we should be able to stand up tall and be proud of our nation and, dance is part of it all.
There’s no big point in claiming our undying pride of Rwanda yet we do things that prove otherwise. We need to represent and show the world that ours is not a culture you come across everyday.
Look at Europe, these guys have a way in which they preserve every nitty-gritty object of their culture’s history. For example, the Scottish and their squared Kilts; don’t they just look beautiful?
It was sheer pleasure those days when even in discos, Cecile Kayireba and Jean Paul Samputu’s music was played loud, getting everybody on their feet. Now all we hear is either modern rap or some form of Kinyarwanda hip-hop infested with auto-tune.
At almost every wedding, women showed up in their Mishanana, looking every bit like a gem. The men danced and sang to folk songs like Annonciata Batamuriza’s “Rwanda Nzinza” and the kids tried to mimic them. It was surely bliss.
I look around for the same and I’m reduced to tears. How fast people have forgotten the beauty and gracefulness of the traditional dance in its raw form; the raised arms that represent our beautiful cattle, the slow twists and turns, the beautiful smiles.
However, with this dance festival going on, it gives me some hope that many Rwandans actually still rejoice in our cultural dance. I also know of several organisations that call up Amaraba dancers and others to entertain them during events.
Although it’s a sad fact that modernity has diluted our dances, we can still be glad that some institutions like the Mashirika Creative and Performing Arts are training people to dance like I want them to.
What we can do now is save the young generation, perhaps become radical propagandists of Kinyarwanda dance to save it from being turned into some other look-alike.
Instead of Rwandan Shakiras and Michael Jacksons, we need new Mutamurizas, new Kairebas and new Samputus. It’s not just our dances that needs preservation but our music too. Dance Rwanda Dance!
Send your comments to