Not many young Rwandans know the name Annociata Mutamuliza but they do know the late artiste through her music. Popularly known as Kamaliza, the artiste was recently celebrated, 21 years after her death.
The tribute concert dubbed Umurage Nyawo featured live music, conversations and documented interviews about the life of the legend. Kamaliza dedicated her life to inspiring others through songs and later on through her charitable endeavours
The concert, which attracted audiences of all ages, took place on August 12 at the Kigali Serena Hotel. The live performances were led by Mariya Yohana, Masamba Intore, Suzanne Nyiranyamibwa, Jules Sentore, Ange and Pamella among others.
The idea of the concert was initiated by Sylvain Dejoie Ifashabayo and Derrick Murekezi, both university students.
“Many of us know Kamaliza’s songs, but we barely know who she was,” said Sylvain Dejoie Ifashabayo.
The two students researched and found out that little was known about the musician’s life or work.
Kamaliza was a guitarist, composer and vocalist and her songs are praised for the impact they had in Rwanda’s struggle for liberation and for creating hope in a turmoil-ravaged nation.
Annociata Mutamuliza was born in 1954 in Rwanda. Later that year, her and her family fled to Burundi. She was brought up in a Christian home and her musical talent was honed in the church choir.
Kamaliza’s music belongs to the Afro-traditional genre and many of her songs are backed by the acoustic guitar, piano and flute.
The 11-minute documentary narrates the life of the music legend, as told by her relatives and friends.
They talk about her music journey, where she released love songs like Kunda Ugukunda, Nzakumara Irungu, Laurette among others.
They also talk about her participation in Rwanda’s liberation struggle in 1990, where she motivated the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) through her songs.
She composed songs with a few of her fellow musicians who included Mariya Yahana and Masamba Intore. Their songs motivated Rwandans in their quest for liberation and also inspired them to fall in love with Rwanda, their beloved home.
After the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, Kamaliza took on a humanitarian role of giving hope to orphans. The musician organised free concerts, where she raised funds for children in orphanages.
Kamaliza also started a home for orphans, which was later taken on by her elder sister Mariya Uwangye following the singer’s tragic death in 1996. To this day Miss Uwangye still carries on the role of taking care of orphans and she currently takes care of 18 children.
When Ifashabayo and Murekezi were asked why they specifically chose to honour Kamaliza, yet there are a number of Rwandans have also impacted lives, they said the initiative will honour other artistes too.
Kamaliza is believed to be an outstanding Rwandan icon, who dedicated her life and music career to service.
“We shouldn’t wait for our idols to pass away in order to celebrate them,” Ifashabayo said.
Following the success of the concert, the organisers say they will be hosting a similar event every year, where the proceeds will be directed toward various orphanages in the country.
Murekezi urges public to place more emphasis on promotion of events with a cause, “Most events which attract sponsorships aren’t those based on local content, which has greatly hindered the thriving of the local creative industry,” he adds.
“I only grew up to her songs, which taught me of Rwanda’s beauty and resilience,” remarked Sandrine Uwase, a 22 year old university student, “We surely need such initiatives to be carried on,” she added.
Part of the challenging factors this initiative faced as looked forward to its premier was sponsorship, which just like any upcoming event seemed very difficult to attain.
This too has been blamed onto most local organizations and companies, which would rather usher in foreign artistes, yet barely are supportive to local creatives, who at most hold quite similar initiatives aimed at noble causes according to Murekezi.
Following its debut, which was a success, organizers affirm how this event is an annual initiative, to be carried on, where proceeds from the event, will be directed towards facilitation of various orphanages in Rwanda.