Welcome to the Blog…our first treasures from the Archive

Posted November 30th, 2007 at 7:33 pm (UTC-5)

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!!

12 responses to “Welcome to the Blog…our first treasures from the Archive”

  1. Anonymous says:

    love the songs!

  2. Anonymous says:

    This is a great idea! I’ll look forward to checking in for updates!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for posting this hard-to-find music. I’ll be waiting to see what else you’ve got in your archive…

  4. Anonymous says:

    Love the blog — now please post links to the weekly MP3 downloads of MTIA that work! The current links to the MP3s for the two programs have not worked for a long time. The files do not exist.

  5. Anonymous says:

    These are some of the best songs ever. Is there a way we can buy the CDs or download them?

  6. Anonymous says:

    To me, the fascinating thing about this music is that it sounds closer to the Amharic in style than to the East / Central rhythms, as I’d have expected. Out on a very precarious limb here – any idea if this is Tutsi in origin? Considering that the Tutsi are Nilotic in origin, and moved into the area from the north…

  7. Anonymous says:

    Daan, it’s true this music sounds a lot like Amharic. In Rwanda we have 2 main tribes hutu and tutsi. Tutsi have origin in Ethiopia. However i would be hard to know whether the singer is tutsi or hutu. You see we have the same language and same religion. To make it short, it’s impossible to differentiate tutsi and hutu songs.
    Hope this helps.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I just would like to know where could I find Impala records, please. I’m triing to gather itrecords for a friend who was very sad of loosing their tapes collection!

  9. Anonymous says:

    i tried to seach where i may get impala records. i can pay more
    if someone can get for me the records.
    my tel no 95922201.
    am from oman

  10. Anonymous says:

    I bought an Impala tape, an incredible one, when I happened to be in Rwanda a couple of years ago. I think that tape sounds like nothing else, very briliant. I dont like that Impala will forever will be a small and local thing. There are blogs around, like this, that puts up this kind of stuff. We in this part of the world will not be able to get hold of the african tapes. I hate that fact, but the interest is limited. So illegal uploading on the internet is the answer. Big money would never reach the originator anyways so lets spread african great music in a moneyless way as much as we can. Right now the shitty pop rnb culture is going to Afrika instead of what it should be: african music going to europe – I just dont think its possible to do that on a “free market” market. the market is never free, so we must skip the market. And then when the interest is getting bigger and bigger – yea, start making money. But now is the time to make people aware. Our pop-music now is so miserably bad that it’s a good time to make a move. Colonialise us!

  11. Ken Clemon says:

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  12. Great post. I will be dealing with some of these issues as well..



Heather Maxwell produces and hosts the award-winning radio program “Music Time in Africa” and is the African Music Editor for the Voice of America. Heather is an ethnomusicologist with Doctorate and Master’s degrees from Indiana University specializing in African Music. She is also an accomplished jazz and Afrojazz/Afrosoul vocalist and has been working, researching, and performing in Africa and the U.S. since 1987.

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