Packaging cultural music for tourism

Friday November 15 2013

By Edmund Kagire Rwanda Today

November 3 was a great day for Rwanda’s culture and traditional music.

In an initiative organised by the Ministry of Sports and Culture and Rwanda Cinema Centre, old and up-coming traditional singers came together to showcase the country’s rich culture through music.

The artistes, who had been elbowed out of the music scene by modern music produced in studio, resurfaced to prove that traditional music is still a force to reckon with.

The government is trying to revamp and repackage the country’s culture and traditions, which are increasingly coming under threat from modern music.

The government has renovated cultural sites and incorporated them among gazetted national museums and heritage centres and in the process of packaging traditional music as a tourist attraction product.

To appreciate the country’s rich culture, traditional music troupes perform at weddings, corporate and state functions within and outside the country.


Several traditional troupes perform in different European countries especially France, Belgium and UK while other local dance groups including Inganzo Ngari, Inyamibwa and Indangamirwa have been invited by other foreign countries to perform for varying audiences.

Inyamibwa for example, last week was in Kenya to take part in the Kenyatta University Cultural Week Festival. Inyamibwa is made up of student genocide survivors of the University of Rwanda.

It is one of the leading traditional dance troupes in Rwanda and has visited different countries to showcase their skills.

The main features of intore traditional dance include girls clad in the traditional umushanana dancing alongside bare chest young men.

Other aspects include skills to play different instruments, from drums to inanga (traditional harp) and imuduri (the horn) and imyirongi (traditional flute).

Speaking at the event dubbed Umwimere w’ Intore, which incorporated the unveiling of Jules Sentore, one of the upcoming traditional artistes and a musical exhibition by all traditional singers, Sports and Culture Minister Protais Mitali said Rwanda seeks to take music and culture forward.

Rich culture

“Rwanda has rich cultural and musical aspects that cannot be found anywhere else, what we need is to package them well and sell them to the rest of the world,” said Mitali.

The event, which was co-sponsored by Goethe Institut, was attended by many expatriates living in Rwanda.

The 25-year-old launched his debut album, udatsikira with the support of fellow singers who included Intore Massamba, Daniel Ngarukiye and Diane Teta, all members of Gakondo.

Jules is a grandson of Athanase Sentore, a legendary musician who died last year.

The event also served as an opportunity to capture footage for use in a documentary to mark 20 years after the genocide.

Musicians among them, Mighty Popo, Itorero Ry’igihugu (National Ballet), Sophie Nzayisenga, Abdoul Makanyaga, Mariya Yohani Mukankuranga, Ben Ngabo Kipeti, Ama G the Black and Two4Real also performed.

“I find Rwanda’s cultural dance and traditional music appealing,” said Marie Higgins, a music teacher at the United Kingdom. “It is original and maintains the tempo that most people who don’t know Africa may need to experience.

“Most of the dances and moves in Rwanda are different compared with what we see in different countries,” she further observed.