Society Debate: Is modern Rwandan music phasing out ancient music?

New generation, new things to sing about. Rwanda is blessed with rich poetry and music which is soothing to the soul; sweet acoustic melodies about hope, love, God and freedom. I was recently invited to a poetry recital and was struck numb by a very beautiful poem, “Give me love, Rwanda”.
Ivan Mugisha
Ivan Mugisha

New generation, new things to sing about

Rwanda is blessed with rich poetry and music which is soothing to the soul; sweet acoustic melodies about hope, love, God and freedom.

I was recently invited to a poetry recital and was struck numb by a very beautiful poem, “Give me love, Rwanda”.

As we listened attentively from under a tree, the poem was recited in an angelic tune by a young beautiful girl; I was swept off my feet in pure amazement.

On my way back home that evening, I rhymed the poem, trying to make a good tune from the words. I prayed that one of our artists like Tom Close lands on it and makes a good song out of it.

Poetry and music are almost the same to me; one gives birth to the other. That is why musicians desperately need to work with poets if they are to develop their career in the music world.

The ancient music that our grandparents sang was very phenomenon; regardless of the fact that they lacked sophisticated equipment like guitars and pianos, they still sung their songs in poem-like style, using simple tools like “inanga” and sent the message to the listeners.

Legends like Cecile Kairebwa and Jean Paul Samputu had what I call ‘unedited clear cut voices’ and they did not need a lot of technology to sweeten their tunes; anyway, not that sweetening music mattered. What mattered was that people understood the message.

Currently, we have a new breed of musicians and new technology. True also, we have a new kind of atmosphere. Unlike the ancient times, music is now very commercial. It is sold just like any other item on the market.

That is why it has to be well packaged; melodic and sweet, catching and mellow. If you want to sale as a Rwandan musician now, make sure that whenever people listen to your song, they can’t help but get up and dance.

It may not have the richest lyric content, but it will serve its purpose if the beat is entertaining. The youth, who I think are the biggest percentage in the music industry, are energetic and full of fun. They sing and rap about things that make us laugh, things that affect them such as the street-life and love relationships.

Although the older generation may still prefer ancient music, they are sometimes tempted to listen to a little bit of modern music and when they do, most times, they are not disappointed.

I admit that some music lovers often get irritated by the lack of lyrical content in a number of songs; but honestly, these young men must be commended and supported for at least trying to spread their wings.

To me, it’s not about which music is better between the two. Both types are important for as long as people still find interest in either. Even if you compared with the rest of east Africa, or the rest of the world, the story is the same; music is never discarded because it’s old.

However, for this generation, modern music has an upper hand. It is more competitive, more melodic and more fun to listen to than the ancient music.

mugishaivan@yahoo.com