Text by Mrs Ariane Mukundente
The first person honored during this first Friday’s Gratitude of the year 2022 is the legendary singer Jean-Baptiste Byumvuhore. A very humble man, he might even not approve of this honor. But I don’t apologize because it doesn’t belong to him alone,but to all of his fans who love him and would love to pay tribute to him. But I’m going to apologize a little bit anyway! Sorry, Mr. Byumvuhore, I couldn’t take it anymore, I resisted for a long time, you deserve it indeed.
Jean-Baptiste Byumvuhore was born in 1964 in the former prefecture of Kibuye. At the age of 4, he entered Gatagara with father (Abbot) Joseph Fraipont Ndagijimana. He does part of his primary school in Gatagara, and the other (the 4th and 5th years) in Kigali at Gatagara CHK. He has finished his 6th year of primary school in Gatagara of Nyanza. He continued his secondary studies at the Groupe Scolaire de Butare in the Secretarial and Accounting section. After his studies, he worked in Gatagara and then in Kigali at the Ministry of Health.
M. Byumvuhore has become a legend by virtue of his music. He released his first album at the age of 24 in 1988. His songs have always had a meaning whether it is a teaching, an inspiration, a tribute, a fed up, a consolation, a denunciation , a call, a reminder… The years pass and himself does not change. His country came into turmoil in 1994, everything collapsed around him. Such a waste!
People have obviously understood nothing of the message carried by his songs. He does not lose hope in the human, he starts again and again. He even challenges his father. He has called him ‘Byumvuhore’ which means ‘listen and shut up’. Sorry, Father, in the face of the stupidities of this world, yes, I will be silent, but in the face of injustice, my name is “Byumvuvuge”, listen and denounce!
After the genocide against the Tutsis, his heart was broken by seeing his Rwanda sunk in pain and rage. This is normal in such cruel circumstances. But as the years pass, he realizes that Rwanda does not want to heal its wounds. On the contrary,Rwanda wants to let them bleed by adding hot peppers (invented or exaggerated stories) to keep the wound open. He remembers his friend Kizito who fought for justice until he died, and he can’t take it anymore. A great man, symbol of wisdom and humanity, M. Jean-Baptiste Byumvuhore devotes his music to the fight against injustice.
What didn’t he sing? Everyone has his or her own preference. For me it is ”Demokarasi irahenda”, a masterpiece that shows the vicious cycle of violence in Rwanda from generation to generation and how with each change of power we cling to the hope of a peace that never comes. He is a man of great value that we have not always been able to appreciate at his fair value. But we still have him with us in flesh and blood. It is imbued with this value called ‘ubupfura’ which no longer exists in our culture. M. Byumvuhore is the very definition of ubupfura. I’m not exaggerating, I’m describing the man as he is. His greatness of soul does not change despite the vagaries of life. Those who know him are full of praise for him.
Like this great philosopher of antiquity, it seems that he always wonders if what he is going to say is right and useful. After talking with him, you wonder if this man really exists in our Rwanda today. In addition to all these qualities, the icing on the cake is his sense of humor. This sweet, reassuring and intelligent humor that catches you off guard and makes you laugh out loud until you cry, while he remains incredibly calm.
I could write a book about this big-hearted man, but for now, help me pay tribute to our national Byumvuhore who rocked our childhood until today with his beautiful songs. He is the greatest Rwandan singer of the 20th century.
From a young age until now, his courage, his charisma, his wisdom and his sense of humor have moved all Rwandans. He is one of the few worthy men still alive. He is an incredible chance, let us preserve him, because he constitutes a precious treasure.
He is a great man, a symbol of wisdom and humanity. Thank you Jean-Baptiste Byumvuhore for this life lesson and for your fight for justice so well led through your songs. If we also understood, as you understood a long time ago, that kindness is essential in our Rwanda more than anything else, we would be much better off.
But you are still there to remind us, fortunately for us. God bless you!
Jean-Baptiste Byumvuhore, niyubahwe!
(Afriquela1ère.com would like to add on this text of Mrs Mukundente these Youtube links of the songs of Jean Baptiste Byumvuhore for those who want to savor them)