Over the last year I have gone through a lot of African music blogs and discovered a lot of forgotten African music, and this collective effort of dozens of netizens has inspired me to share our large collection with other music lovers (to read more about the collection, and see some pictures, click on the ‘about’ & ‘picture gallery’ tabs in the upper right corner). After going through hundreds of recordings I decided to kick things off with one of my favorite artists…
About a year ago I was going through a crate of assorted cassettes and was excited to find a dozen Rwandan recordings, among them was one by Bizimungu Dieudonne. I immedialy loved evertyhing about his music.
As I listened to his music, I started asking Rwandan colleagues, journalists and musicians about him. It seems that today Bizimungu Dieudonne is largely forgotten. His music is no longer played on Rwandan radio and he has faded from popular memory. Here is what I have learned about him. Bizimungu Dieudonne was a Rwandan civil servant who loved music, a passion he inherited from his father (who may have performed religious music). Bizimungu usually performed, throughout Kigali, with his wife Agnes Uwimbabazi. In 1994 they were both killed (along with many of Bizimungu Dieudonne’s family members) by Hutu militias during the Rwandan genocide.
The song “Tabara Ryangombe” is a masterpiece. This song was recorded in the late 1980′s (I don’t have an exact date). In it Bizimungu asks Ryangombe (the spiritual father of the Rwandan people) to save the young. He sings “the children of Rwanda no longer respect the values of their ancestors. They want red lips and fingernails. Ryangombe bring back the pride of our lost families. Oh, our God that looks over Rwanda come save your palace. Parents, pray that we don’t lost our culture. And you, the young ones, obey your parents “.
Check out Kagambage Alexandre’s stuttering guitar playing!!
This is another great track off the cassette with a fairly typical Rwandan beat.
While we’re in Rwanda…check out these tracks by several of Rwanda’s greatest dancebands of the 1980s. The first track is off a reel we have of recordings, made by Rwandan national radio in the early 1980s, of several of great bands. My favorite cut on the reel is ‘Umuco Nyarwanda’ by the Orchestre Umulili of Kigali.
One of the things I hope to do with this blog is feature groups that are very popular in particular African countries but whose music remains unheard and unknown internationally. Here’s a track by the Orchestre Impala de Kigali. They were probably the most popular Rwandan band of the 1980s. This track is off their second cassette.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the music and if you know anything more about Bizimungu Dieudonne, please… get in touch!!