My 2018 Nyege Nyege Experience

Just like last year, Nyege Nyege started early and smooth, a beginning I was familiar with. I’m not going to compare the two editions – They are different in size, magnitude, performance levels, lineup, weather, duration… everything and not to mention the ending for me- a real BANG! But not the type of bang you would tell your friends who missed out, rather the type that takes to a hospital with a complete broken jaw and last thing the doctor tells you before you leave the hospital with both jaws stitched together is « Do not talk. Do not laugh. For six weeks! » Damn someone finally managed to shut my big mouth. And he did it smoothly in a space of two selfie clicks. Why? For a fuckin Tecno phone. What a world!

Before I met my « muter » I had been on the main stage filming the amazing performance by GURUKACAMA, a collective of Burundian drummers, a few UK musicians and Tamfum, the guitarist. Let me mention that the previous day I had performed with the Burundian drummers on the traditional stage by the River Nile. Nothing fancy. Drums, chants, vocals and a panegyric poem that I delivered in Kinyarwanda from the top of my small lungs. So hell yeah I was super excited to perform in Nyege Nyege. I had been talking about it since the day a friend in entertainment business had told me I was selected to be a part of a Uganda-Rwanda collective for a showcase.

Now back to the BANG!
It happened a few minutes after selektah K’Ruh from Rwanda had managed to make us whistle, slide, spin and put us in all sorts of groovy mood. I didn’t want to kill the vibe after hi set so I went to look for something. If you are a Nyegerian, you know how it goes « Follow the music, you will find your tribe. » So I walked down a path I had been on a dozen times but still managed to get lost in turns because, you know, part of Nyege Nyege is the walk to wherever the path leads. Then I saw something I hadn’t noticed all the previous times I walked down that path. It was a lioness statue with lights in the mouth. So cool I had to take my first selfie. I could hear the queen say « Come baby, sit by my feet and catch this fire! » I was not alone. There was a guy that seemed like a bouncer. It seemed normal like a guy on duty plus he had those fluorescent jackets on. Then he moved towards where I was coming from. I didn’t care. I took the first, the second and by the time I was about to take the third selfie, something had paralysed me for a few seconds. Suddenly I had my mouth open wide, blood dripping by litters and my eyes watching the security guy collect the phone from my hand and walk away. As soon as he disappeared in the dark path, I stepped outside the path and walked towards the nearest civilisation of food merchants seeking help. Lucky enough the Red Cross station was about 10 meters from the crime scene. I hadn’t even known there was a Red Cross station. It was somehow hidden behind some bush. I remember having a safety discussion with a friend a couple of hours prior to my mouth being assaulted. It’s as if the bouncer guy was listening all the time. And so to stop me from snitching, he broke my jaw in one blow. An ambulance (yes there was one) took me to Mobasha medical centre where some lovely Pakistani doctors managed to put back my dangling jaw together and stop the haemorrhage. After the surgery yesterday, the dentist said « You will not open your mouth to talk or laugh or any other reason for the next six weeks. » Now that’s gonna be a problem, especially for the laughing part. I can feel the hilarious comments coming! I will come back after I can handle your clownery. Anyway I look like Kanye now. I have always been a fan, I never thought Mr. West would appear in my mirror with that smile through the wire.
On the real though, last year I thought the risk and hazard were parts of the festival experience like a party-till-you-drop-dead type of thing, you know what I mean? or drop in the river because if you slip on a rock and find yourself at the bottom, it’s all on you. Oh the things that thrill party animals. However tripping people were, they did their best not to trip literally. Well, I tripped on a rock, landed on my face, rolled in shisha hot charcoal and stood up screaming « I’m aliiiiiiiiive!!! » However while on the hospital bed, I imagined what would have happened if my « muter » had decided to give me a bonus, you know? Maybe you’d have my full skeleton and not just…

1key skull
My cute skull with an ugly lower jaw fracture. The white thing is a pin.

Speaking of safety, the previous night everyone was congratulating me for putting on a builder’s helmet. I brought one from Kigali specifically for the festival in anticipation of just in case it rained and people started piling up on each other. The truth is for the first time I panicked and went to my tent. So I missed out a big part of Saturday night. I was also extremely exhausted. I had spent the entire afternoon trying to find local Jinja men to run my toilet business. Yep, I built a toilet the second day of the festival outside because none of the toilets inside seemed like what I’d want to use. Also as a struggling artist, who had struggled to get in, get a tent, get the money to spend, I had sensed my friends would run out of money before the festival ends. Okay it was a shitty idea but at least I gave it a try and I’m happy with came out in an afternoon labour with three young Jinja men. The sad part, the ninja man whom I had tasked to manage the latrine got too drunk after an advance he had asked to buy food and left the business unattended. When I went to check the following day, everything was stolen except the plastic bags around it. I was like goddamn, if people have reached a situation where they must steal a toilet to survive, they must be living in the shittiest conditions. Let’s not pretend like we didn’t turn a blind eye to the poor people begging around us as we partied like there was no tomorrow. The good part is that Jinja vendors made a lot of money selling foods and stuff both inside and outside the festival venue. And so did body bodas, taxis. fixers… anyone who was willing to roll their sleeves made something. Money-wise, I made a loss but now I know how to fix myself a cool and cheap toilet anywhere in the jungle. I’m so proud of my hands. Not just a wanker, after all. They can multitask hhhhh-hhhh-hhhh *laughs in stitches*

Much love and regards to all of you having me inside your hearts at the backs of your minds and many thanks for all sorts of support sent my way. Really.
I’ll talk to you in six weeks when my big mouth is fully functional again 🙂

No broken tooth. Mans still hot 🙂

Retour à la terre natale, en force

À l’heure qu’il est, je devrais être à Goma. Mais je n’y suis pas. Enfin plus. Je suis rentré au Rwanda plus tôt que prévu. Je n’en pouvais plus.

En fait depuis que je suis parti de Goma en Août 1994 pendant la crise de réfugiés du génocide au Rwanda, des exilés, des milices interahamwe, des militaires du régime Habyarimana, je n’avais plus remis les pieds à Goma. Pour ceux qui ne savent pas, Goma partage la frontière avec le Rwanda. La frontière on ne la voit pas parce qu’elle n’existe que sur la carte de l’Afrique que nous ont dessiné “les propriétaires de la planète” en direct de Berlin en 1885. À la base les frontières étaient faites pour délimiter les propriétés comme on construit un mur pour dire “cette partie de la planète m’appartient à moi et ma descendance.” Donc voilà comment le Kongo est devenu Congo Belge, le Rwanda et le Burundi une propriété allemande. Mais avant ces frontières qu’ils voyaient de l’Europe et qui n’existaient que dans la réalité colonisatrice, nos ancêtres savaient faire la différence entre telle ou telle région de par le peuple qui l’occupait. C’est ça une nation: un peuple sur un espace à un temps quelconque. D’ailleurs les contes disent que l’Est du Congo faisait partie du Rwanda juste avant que l’Europe se partage l’Afrique. Mais… “On s’en fout des contes. Ce ne sont que des histoires,” comme répétait l’experte en contes sur le projet qui m’a ramené sur ma terre natale.

J’ai passé les premières treize années de ma vie à Goma. Quand j’y pense, les séquelles du génocide et post-génocide m’ont affecté d’une façon que je n’ai jamais su gérer. C’est un récit peu connu comme des millions d’autres qu’on se refuse d’entendre parce qu’ils ne conviennent pas à ce que l’on veut entendre peut-être. Et ça devient encore plus difficile quand il faut le faire en français. Mes premières interactions avec le français remontent à cette période où la mort s’étalait au seuil de la porte et flottait dans l’air de choléra. Je m’amusais à échanger quelques phrases avec des militaires de l’armée française qui avait occupé le terrain vague dans mon village à Bugiti. Elle avait installé des fils barbelés qu’on coupait en tamponnant deux cailloux jusqu’à ce que le métal chauffait et lâchait, puis on construisait des jouets de voitures avec.

La nuit du 18 juin 2018, je n’ai pas fermé l’oeil. Tous ces souvenirs me sont revenus plus vivement que d’habitude. J’essayais de me souvenir des visages et des noms de mon enfance, mais rien! Je ne pouvais qu’imaginer quelles seraient les réactions de ceux qui me reconnaîtraient. Sont ils toujours aussi pauvres? Toujours souriants dans la misère ? Je ne savais dans quelle position dormir. Jusqu’au matin.

J’avais imaginé un grand retour à Goma. Je n’avais pas imaginé que ce serait à l’occasion d’un atelier de slam et contes et en plus dans un cadre de réconciliation. J’avais déjà essayé de me soigner au slam dans Gêne-Aise mais là ! Extrapoler sur le plan régional, c’était le test ultime! Et puisque je choisis toujours le courage sur la peur, quand Goethe Institut (Goethe), l’Institut Français (IFR) et Rwanda Arts Initiative (RAI) m’ont invité sur le projet DigiTales, j’ai dit oui en soulignant à quel point c’était important pour moi de bien le faire. J’avais déjà travaillé avec Goethe plusieurs fois, je travaille avec RAI sur plusieurs projets, je n’avais pas encore travaillé avec les français. Déjà la personne en charge du projet ne m’inspirait pas confiance dans son langage surtout quand elle est revenue sur la visibilité sur les réseaux sociaux. Dans ma tête j’étais sur le point de me mettre une balle dans la tête. Pas encore cette merde! J’avais en face de moi deux drapeaux qui étaient à la source des conflits de la région des Grands Lacs: l’Allemagne de part sa colonisation et la France de part son opération turquoise, pour mentionner très peu. Eux ils ne pensaient qu’au projet. Pas aux gens. Si je ne savais pas dans quel pays je vivais j’aurais pu demander “Et le gouvernement rwandais, alors?” Mais on sait tous qu’il s’en fout de l’art et de la culture. Ça ne rapporte rien. Ou alors ce n’est pas la priorité. Les gorilles d’abord et toujours.

Je pose quelques questions sur le paiement, le déroulement du projet et on me dit que je serai payé 500€ soit 500,000Frw. Je crois qu’ils se sont étonnés que je saute pas sur la proposition puisqu’ils savent bien à quels points on galère les artistes. Je les ai surpris en leur demandant sur quelle base ils jugeaient ce montant raisonnable puisque j’allais condenser tout mon savoir de la région sur ce projet. C’est là que sort la fameuse “C’est ça qu’on a comme cachet” et j’apprendrais trois jours avant notre départ pour Goma que le cachet sera payé en Octobre à la fin de tout le travail (une semaine d’atelier, on spectacle à Goma et deux autres au Rwanda en Octobre.) Ils ont quand même été hyper généreux avec le père diem : 60,000Frw (68$) pendant 7 jours dans un pays étranger.

Le dilemme : s’engager dans les pires conditions et refuser. Je prends le risque. Je m’engage. Si je ne le fais pas, qui va le faire? Le ministère de la culture s’en bat les couilles ! Le staff doit être dans un restaurant chic en train de s’occuper de son ventre pendant que les colonisateurs sont dans la course pour l’occupation de l’espace qui reste : digital d’où DigiTales. C’est un début et on les rend la tâche trop facile. On a perdu nos terres, on a perdu notre esprit, on ne sait même plus ce qu’on est en train de perdre.

Le jour du départ, je vais au point de rencontre (Ambassade de France) signer le contrat, récupérer le per diem. En attendant dehors, on nous renvoie dans un territoire plus loin de la parcelle. “Désolés messieurs, vous ne pouvez pas rester là !” Wow! À Kigali ? Putain. Tout est vraiment perdu.

Mais bon, je me suis engagé. Kama mbaya, mbaya! En route je suis avec un vieux conteur rwandais, un conteur et une slameuse du Burundi, accompagnés par les représentants de Goethe et l’IFR. À Goma nous rejoignons un vieux conteur et un slameur congolais. Le projet est de travailler pendant une semaine sur un conte (ou compte) commun, faire une vidéo et un spectacle.

Dans le quartier pas loin de la frontière, Goma est propre, les gens beaux et souriants. Les militants se pavanent avec des chaînes de munitions, des lance-roquettes, dans des vieux uniformes et de vielles chaussures. Des fois en tongues même. Je fais un petit tour du quartier avant 20 heures, c’est l’heure du couvre feu. On parle d’enlèvements, la nuit, quand vous n’êtes pas physiquement agressés soit par des shege (jeunes de la rue) ou même des militaires.

Je n’ai pas eu le temps de visiter. Nous travaillions dans un circuit fermé dans le confort de nos mots. Dans le travail des contes, très souvent j’entendais “on s’en fout!” La première fois c’était accompagné par un doux “je ne le dis pas comme ça, on ne s’en fout pas mais…” Voilà je me retrouve dans des séances d’apprentissage de l’écriture de l’histoire de nègres pour les blancs. D’ailleurs le petit livre de Blaise Cendrars me le rappelle au cas où je penserais qu’il s’agit d’une métaphore.

Les organisateurs ne pensent qu’à la langue, la forme, le format. La récits historiographiques deviennent des légendes en moin d’une minute. “C’est pour la vidéo”. Je n’en peux plus. Je sors de la salle. Ma tête est chamboulée. Je fume un joint. Ah oui, ça calme les méninges. Je refuse de perdre la tête. Je refuse aux connards le pouvoir de me rendre fous. Ma tête c’est tout ce j’ai. C’est tout ce que je suis.

Après la séance on se rend au lac filmer une partie du clip. Je suis content qu’on sorte de notre cocon. On prend des motos (même le cinématographe avec son équipement) et BAM! Je n’en crois pas mes yeux même si tout semble normal aux habitants de Goma. Je sors mon téléphone pour prendre des images sinon personne ne me croira.

Au lac, pendant qu’Isumbabyose filme une scène du clip, un jeune congolais glisse sur un rocher juste à côté. Il est venu puiser l’eau car toute la ville n’a pas d’eau. Ironique pour un pays une ville sur le lac, un pays de grands lacs. Le mec a mal aux fesses mais c’est pas grave, on en rit comme de tout dans ce pays, ça aurait pu être pire ! Et on aurait absolument rien foutu. Même si cela arrivait à l’un d’entre nous. On était pas préparé en plus de n’avoir aucune assurance.

Les organisateurs n’ont rien à foutre de nos grandes gueules. Tout ce qu’ils veulent c’est leurs logos dans chaque cadran. Normal qu’ils s’en foutent! Ce ne sont pas leurs problèmes. Et puis s’ils nous demandaient ce qu’on faisait nous, on répondrait quoi? Je suis sûr que si c’était un projet de blancs seulement, ils ne seraient pas dans un centre qui n’a pas eu d’eau depuis la nuit des temps. La gravité de la situation est gravée noir sur blanc.

Vous allez dire je je ne suis qu’un autre nègre qui se plaint, hein? Vous m’avez donné la banane après tout! Que vous êtes mesquins hihihi.

Vous savez la différence entre le nègre d’aujourd’hui et le nègre d’hier? Le choix. C’est là même la définition de la liberté. Donc en tant que nègre libre, je choisis de ne plus faire partie de ce projet. Pour les 500 balles, gardez toute la monnaie. Ne pensez surtout pas que je suis en colère, non. Je suis indigné, chers “experts” d’Afrique.

Oh avant de partir, j’ai trouvé ces jeunes du centre Yole Africa en train de répéter et je ne me suis pas empêché de jammer avec eux. Ils sont chauds!!

Bana Kongo, nakozonga tosala makambo bien! Biso na biso.

Kigali, dead by night

Kgl party
Partying with Mamba’s owner John Cox. Photo: David Berg

One thing you’ve gotta know about me is that I take my night life seriously. So seriously that I wouldn’t waste a second if it doesn’t lead to rocking the boat on the dance floor. I love to partyyyyyy!!! I’ve been partying for a while now but if you need a reference time, let’s say when Cadillac, Planet, Black & White, and B Club were banging. I know some OG’s who’ve been killing it way before when Cercle, Cassablanca, Kigali Night were the bomb! About 6 years ago, I remember publishing a list of my favorite hangouts with weekly activities around Kigali. Now all we have left is discriminating Cocobean and shitty People (the club) and everything else that operate long hours being worse. Cocobean and People should date each other. Hopefully they would drown or set each other on fire because, you know, absurdity can be quite a passion.
It hasn’t always been this way, though. Ariko when I try to connect the dots as to how we got in this predicament, it’s kind of vague. Things fell apart gradually, systematically though. I don’t know the why but I have an idea about the how. In my observation, I think it all started with a party in Kicukiro organized by graduates from La Colombiere high school in 2006. Not only this party was shut down but it was raided by police and everyone was jailed. Word on the street had it that some children of some “very, very, very, very, very important” personalities in this country had attended the party without their parents’ consent. To fix the problem, police applied a very interesting method that can be compared to burning down your neighborhood because of a mosquito bugging you in your room. I must be the one exaggerating here. Basically everyone who attended the party spent some time in jail. I’m glad I was not at the party but I’m also sad that I missed the party. I mean if you can party till you end in a cell, you must be a party animal for real.
The reason why I said it all started with this party is because from then, you had to seek approval from local authorities to throw a house party. We laughed about it, as we usually do about everything, but now look at us. The police can shut down any party, any time, anywhere, confiscate sound equipment and jail the deejay with no need to explain anything. It’s that watchu-gonna-do-about-it-nigga attitude. And it works for them. So well that they thought “Hmm let’s apply it to professional events, bars, motels, hotels, and why not churches? In the end people will have no source of entertainment and everybody will be happy MWAHAHAHAHA”

This is Rwanda. You wake up one morning, your gate is suspended because there’s a new road at the edge of your fence. You try to drive home from work and realize a new one-way sign out of nowhere. You come back and it’s facing the opposite direction. It happens over and over with no explanation. Eventually you give up. After all the government cares for your well-being, right? Police is only enforcing the law. Like this law.

statement 1.JPG

The funny part about this law is that the phrase “noise pollution” does not exist in Rwanda’s penal code. You have quite some entries on pollution but none is related to sound or noise. And, you only have one “noise” entry.

noise pollution.JPG

art 600

And about that article 600, define “noise”, define “disturbance.” When does music become noise? Please explain because we’re suffering way too much over this “noise pollution” ghost law. And what makes the neighbor’s sleep more important than the money being injected in the economy and the dozens of jobs created overnight? Can you answer that dear Rwandan National Police? I understand they need their quiet time but I also need my loud time? How do we co-exist? Apparently the solution is to soundproof everything. But here’s the thing. Most of pubs in Rwanda operate within houses that were not designed for that purpose. They are made to be homes. And, you will notice this if you pay attention to the facts that there is usually only one bathroom (barely working), a bar occupying half of what was meant to be the living room… Soundproofing these homes to turn them into pubs means shutting down windows and doors, which help with ventilation because the places are relatively small; it means setting up air conditioning systems, acoustic roofs and walls among a few things. And when you thought that solved the issues, old pubs have become night clubs in residential areas. Oh and that means there will be a good increment in prices. Do I need to remind that the way our bank accounts are set up, we currently sip beers with a toothpick? Anyway I don’t want to be in a tiny night at 7pm. You’ll turn people into alcoholics. I want to enjoy the beautiful sky and view of the city, inhale fresh air and laugh with my people. So I don’t believe in soundproofing as a solution, as a consumer.

Now as an artist and cultural entrepreneur, if you can survive, it’s impossible to thrive in Kigali. I repeat impossible under the conditions stated above. Many artists before me, with more charisma and talent have invested for a long time only to see their dreams reduced to powder by government through its regulations and absolute lack of support. It is so bad that many had to leave and give up on their talent to become slaves of western colonies. Like I said in Real Talk “Go hard, go home or find your way to exile, this art industry isn’t designed for artists to survive.” How am I still standing does not matter. It is only a matter of time, in this part of the world because at the end of the day, everyone has a breaking point. So you see, dear Rwandan Police, your vague regulations are a hindrance to our existence as cultural entrepreneurs.

The world has more than 195 countries. This is the land that chose us. We chose it back. All we want to add some colors and smiley faces on it. But you don’t want to hear that, do you? Don’t make us hate what we love because we will hate you instead, and therefore hate ourselves. We’re wasting such a beautiful space. When the sun is not up to remind you, the moon does.

Can I help? Sure. By all means I will help you fix the problem that you created by making me the problem in the first place. Life and its ironies. That’s why I accepted the invitation to sit with the head of tourism in Rwanda Development Board (RDB), along with few surviving event organizers, artists and cultural entrepreneurs, to discuss How to Improve Night Life Experience in Rwanda because Kigali cannot allow itself to be a boring city that intends to accommodate tourists. Suddenly because we’re talking tourism, boredom does not make sense huh? Hypocrites! But guess what I’m a sweet citizen and I will help. Meanwhile please tell police that being professional does not mean parading with fingers on their triggers through crowds of people consuming alcohol. Guns and booze don’t get along well. Rather ask them for clear laws and regulations, standards (tools, measures), reporting mechanisms, procedures and most importantly to be accountable.
Truth-folie yours,
1key 😉


Encounter with The Culture

Growing up poor in the 80’s in a small village with no electricity somewhere at the border between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaïre then), I didn’t know what television was till I was about eight or nine years old. My grandfather’s small radio operating with batteries, which I pounded gently and exposed to sun rays for recharge (miracles of science!), was my only source of music entertainment. I remember the distorted sounds of soucousse, rumba, zouk machine, reggae, funk, and pop due to bad reception when my granddad wasn’t listening to the News about wars ravaging almost every part of Africa. I don’t recall listening to any Hip Hop music back then. My most memorable encounter with Hip Hop was right after the end of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda when I moved to Brazzaville, the capital city of the other Congo. For the first time, we had a TV set at home. I was finally able to put faces to some of the familiar vocals that rocked my eardrums. I began to connect the pieces. For instance, watching Michael Jackson’s play with his zipper in his dance routines answered the question “Who’s bad?” The more I paid attention to details in the music videos, the more I realized the influence of television on my surrounding.

For the couple of years that I attended a private school in Brazzavile, somehow I ended up in the circle of cool kids. Cool kids are those who want to look like stars on TV and who other kids want to emulate, you know! I didn’t grow up with what they had. They wore t-shirts with Hip Hop legends on them, didn’t button their shirts, sagged their pants, wore boots or fresh sneakers on the regular. Some of them would clip fake earrings on their lobes and put on a US flag bandanna to look exactly like their idols. Those kids were also called branchés (plugged in or connected). They read comic books, magazines on music, sports, played basketball in the streets and talked a lot about rap and movies. They had interests. I did not have much. I was a shabby boy from the village who couldn’t speak their language. Some of them sang along to French rap songs. I could barely articulate my needs to go to the bathroom in class. On the other hand, my English was almost nonexistent. It’s only recently that I realized Dr. Dre didn’t say “wawawess” in California Love but “Wild Wild West”. But I didn’t care. Nobody cared. And that’s exactly what I loved about this art form. The I-don’t-give-a-fuck-as-long-as-it-feels-good attitude.

With time I developed a certain thirst about the content of the music. I needed to know why black people were angry and why they used more words on a standard song than anybody else. I had to learn the language. I studied over time, used TV and radio as more as learning tools than entertainment sources. Beyond speaking French, and English later, I wanted to understand the lyrical content of rap songs. Luckily some music magazines included posters of celebrities with lyrics of their hit songs in their issues. But again, I did not have the level to comprehend. I could only grasp a few words after cross-checking with my pocket dictionary. For the slang, I had to wait till the early 2000’s with the availability of the Internet in Rwanda to do my own researches about the meaning of some songs. That helped me a lot improve my English as well. Soon, I was hooked and started writing to myself in a journal format. Then somehow I stumbled upon rhymes, today they call me a Hip Hop Poet.

I have consumed more Hip Hop culture than any of my African cultures without moving from the continent and I have come to realize that Hip Hop goes beyond the beat, the dance, the graffiti, the dressing, the hair styles, the gestures, the slang… it is the most influential culture of our time. It’s too present, too loud, too bright and so versatile it can’t be contained. Right now somewhere in a deep villages, kids with no shoes on are rhyming on a bucket beat.
Africa has thousands of Hip Hop heads, MC’s, producers, dancers, etc who have been influenced by The Culture and are now redefining their continent with the same fire the pioneers started with. I am happy to know that many are doing it justice.
Hip Hop is alive.


Powa 254 - 1key
Iyadede Sabrina (on the guitar) & 1key jamming at Pawa254, Nairobi, Kenya.

On Memory & Hope

I heard mourning is nationwide, your loss is personal though
Collective memory? But trauma is individual
Commemoration is periodic, your grief permanent
History’s selective as if events were tournaments

Suicidal thoughts jam on memory lane
Survival above all is a struggle to stay sane
Yet somehow you maintained
Bet no external consciousness would last a day in your brain

The past is non reversible, and present isn’t always a gift
The future unpredictable especially when gazed from a cliff
But since the only way is forward, familiarize with haze and mist
Trust the process, believe in the magic of life
Have faith in darkness when the stars and the moon don’t shine
If you can make it through the night, well, the sun will rise like a prize

I wish you find purpose and relief before you get to rest
You survived the worst, I hope you live to see the best
For what it’s worth, you’re worth it


Kwipasa muremure

Abakinnye karere si ngombwa kubasobanurira icyo “kwipasa muremure” bisobanura. Abakurikira umupira bo sinabibarusha. Si no mu mupira gusa ushobora no kwipasa muremure mu buzima busanzwe. Urugero ni ukujya mu kabari ufite gahunda n’inshuti iza kukugurira ugatumiza byeri ya nshuti yawe igahura n’ikibazo ntize telephone yawe ikazima. Wenda aho wavuga ko harimo n’ubudebe. Uwabivuga nutazi icyaka icyo ari cyo uretse ko ushobora gusanga nawe ari muri ba bantu batunga imodoka igira retorovizeri igura amafaranga aruta umushahara wabo. Uti uyu ni umusongarere. Ukavuga utyo utunze terefone ihenze kurusha moto kandi nta na mobayiro money irimo yo kwishyura urugendo rwo kuri moto rwa make. Ugasekwa nukodesha inzu y’ibihumbi magana ariko agahora yikopesha amakara kwa mama Mutesi. Nawe wakongeraho ingero niba wayotse [Kuyoka ni ukurishyira mu nkoranya mwongeraho ko ari ikiryogo. Eh! abuzukura bacu bazakeka ko kera mu gihe cy’abami b’abatafugenge habayeho ikiryogo ari cyo cyabyaye ikinyarwanda cyabo]
Umuntu yakwibaza ati igitera kwipasa muremure ni iki? Ese nuko umuntu aba yabuze ubundi buryo? Reka reka! Abantu dukunda ibituvuna nubwo tudakunda kubyemera. Mu mukino w’umupira w’amaguru uwipasa muremure aba yabaze nabi. Yabigira akamenyero akitwa umuswa. Ikindi kandi ntaba ashaka gukinisha abandi bakinnyi. Yumva ko ari we kamara. Nyamara agakoresha imbaraga nyinshi yiruka inyuma yigihombo.
Uyu munsi nafashe bisi iva kimironko njya mu mujyi mara isaha n’igice umushoferi azunguruka hose ashakisha umuhanda. Navuyemo ntaragera iyo njya nkomeza n’amaguru kuko ukwihangana kwanjye kungana n’ururo. Impamvu urugendo rwatinze nuko umuhanda bisi yari isanzwe inyuramo wagenewe abanyacyubahiro baturutse mu bihugu bitandukanye by’Afrurika baje kwitabira inama nkuru nyafurika kw’ishoramari. Sinanze abashyitsi rwose. Udasurwa aba ari umugome. Ariko na none dushyize mu gaciro, ndavuga ka kandi abayobozi bahora batubwira, hatumvikana ka kandi baciramo, kubuza abaturage uburenganzira bwo gukoresha imihanda yubatswe n’imisoro yabo ngo nugushimisha abashyitsi bangahe… ibyo ni ukubatesha agaciro! Nabisanisha na rya kandamiza rikorerwa abana ngo bicare hasi bahe intebe umushyitsi nkaho uwatumiye umushyitsi atigeze atekereza aho aza kumwicaza. Igisekeje kandi kinababaje nuko iyi nama igamije kwiga ku buryo abanyafurika twashyira hamwe ngo tuzamure ubukungu bw’umugabane yateje kandi izagukomeza guteza igihombo mu gihugu igihe cyose izamara. Urugero: umushoferi ko ataza kurenza amaturu abiri ku munsi araveresa iki itike ikiri kuri magana abiri mirongo itatu kandi aza kunywesha amavuta inshuro nyinshi ate n’umwanya ashakisha umuhanda nk’amazi yabuze aho atoborera? Umumotari wanyishyuje igihumbi aha magana atanu nawe akayatamo azenguruka Kigali ashakisha umuhanda iyi nama imumariye iki? Ibi murabona atari ukwipasa muremure? Si ubwa mbere, nubushije haba inama ihuza abakuru b’Afurika habaye ikibazo cyo kugenda. Ubu noneho byahumiye ku mirari kubera imvura. Ubwo uribaza gutonda umurongo muri gare ukanyagirwa utazi ko hari bisi iza kuboneka? Ese ubundi ko inama iba yateguwe amezi n’amezi mbere, kuki ntawatekereje ku buryo abaturage bazakomeza imirimo yabo batabangamiwe?
Ubwo hagati aho sinakubwira ibyongereza biba byaciye indimi ngo twahinduye Afurika. Byo nyine guharira umuhanda abantu mirongo na ukabuza uburenganzira bwa miriyoni na- nabyo wakagombye kubyibazaho. Niba ari imena bigeze aho ntimwabategera kajugujugu ko zihari? Iki kibazo Afurika iragihorana, abayobozi bafatwa nk’imana kandi bakagombye kuba abakozi b’abaturage. Nubwo ntawakopfora ngo avuge ko yabangamiwe n’amahitamo y’ubuyobozi si ukuvuga ko biba bitagaragara. Agahinda k’inkoko…
Icyo maze kubona muri iki gihugu ni uko imigambi myinshi ari myiza ariko ishyirwa mu bikorwa rya byinshi ntiriba ryizweho neza. Atari uko iyi mihanda mishyashya ntiyakabaye icukurwa uku bwije uko bukeye ngaho ngo fibre, ngaho ngo twabaze nabi tuyagure, ngaho ngo yatobotse; ngaho abaturage bahawe inka babuzwa kuragira… nibwo usanga mu Mushyikirano muzehe atonganya abayobozi nkaho ari abana bo mu mashuri abanza. Ibyo byose ni ukwipasa muremure. Kugira igitekerezo cyiza ntibihagije ngo ukore neza. Yego hamaze kubakwa byinshi mu myaka makumyabiri n’ine ishize ariko ntibihagije. Kubaga igihugu ni uguhozaho. Ikibazo gikomeye ni imyumvire y’abayobozi bamwe na bamwe. Nibaza ko iyo bumvise ijamba “kubaka” bahita batekereza amatafari. Wenda niyo mpamvu Kigali yubatse ariko ikaba ituwe na bake kubera ubushobozi. Ugasanga umucuruzi w’imyenda akodesha akumba ku madorari igihumbi kandi agurisha ishati kuri makumyabiri ku bakiriya bari mbarwa.
Ubu dufite ikibazo gikomeye cy’urubyiruko rufite ibitekerezo byubaka ariko kuko bitajyanye n’imitekerereze ishaje y’abayobozi bamwe na bamwe bigatuma bitwa ibipinga. Nimureke dupinge ntitugifite ubuzima bumwe. Iyo abenshi mwahaze ntimwibuka ko mwigeze gusabiriza. Mumbarize minisitiri w’urubyuruko niba nta soni agira iyo abashyitsi bamusabye aho bakwidagadurira akabura icyo abereka? Ese wa mugani, abaha akaradiyo ngo bumve ikinamico iyo bamusabye aho barebera za teyatere? Ese ayo madovize ni itegeko ko ajya mu ngagi gusa? Abahanzi ntibayakeneye ngo biteze imbere? Abafite utubari ntibayakeneye?
Niba koko umutekano ari wowe nkuko tubyemeza isi, kuki ntawe utekanye ku mufuka uretse abatuye mu duce tudasa n’ahandi? Nibaza ko tumaze gusirimuka ku buryo tutagikeneye kwiyerekana uko tutari. Kuba umuzungu avuga ko tuba mu bihuru, si ngombwa ko tubyuka twubaka amagorofa akarara amurika ijoro ryose ntawe amurikira kandi nyamara abenshi bakiri mu bihuru, wasanga icyihutirwa ari ukugira amazi n’amashanyarazi mu ngo zacu twese. Nidukomeza kwipasa muremure urubyiruko rw’ubu ruzagira akazi gakomeye ko gusana aho kongera itafari ku byubatswe.
Tworoherane kandi duhorane amahoro.

The System is a Rapist

Bad news bad boys, no Happy New year for you because #MenAreTrash. Apparently I shouldn’t be saying that and should instead say #IamTrash because apparently there is a good 0.1% of good men out there. But that means you would agree that there is a lot of trash in our system(s). If you think trash is a strong word, let’s go with “prejudice towards women” in general. I look at my chats with friends discussing women empowerment and I cannot believe I said the things that I have said. Or the sheer fact that I believed I was right and entitled to think so. My killer line used to be “If women spend as many hours working as men, who will take care of the kids?” While I would be labelled sexist by feminists, many men would cheer for me. You could be the most feminist man on the planet but there are things your system cannot understand about being a woman simply because you are not one. So I’m not going to be pretentious and claim that I do but for what it’s worth I like spending time listening to their stories. For the past few months I have been paying attention to few Rwandan women that I met, especially female artists – young, amateurs, professional, legends – and I was speechless to have a glimpse of the amount of prejudice, injustice, disrespect they endure on a daily basis. I couldn’t help but ask, “What do you think is the reason men treat so badly the same women who carry them into this life then look after them their lifetime?” The answer was a question. “Why don’t you ask men that?” Now how do I ask men who are “always right?” “Always working hard day and night to put food in the kitchen when all the women can do is boil and fry the food?” “Men who fight other men over territories to provide a safe haven for their women and children?” So the other day I burst the bubble by tapping into the Rwandan culture. The culture of rape to be precise.

This is something I only realized this year by interviewing old women in rural areas. I learned that our grandmothers were forced to marry at a young age. As young as twelve years old through rituals that were designed to blind their perceptions of reality in order to take advantage of them. Of course this is my current realization and interpretation of what I learned. You are entitled to your own opinion. I will talk loosely of marriage and sex practices. For instance, I learned that the sisters and friends of the young bride-to-be had to sing sad songs to make her cry on her wedding day but this was crafted to make the ritual seem like she was sad to leave her family but a truth that we were not told is that she was a child terrified to death to forcefully marry a man she had never met before and who probably was already married to three, four, six, ten or more other wives acquired through the same process. Yes acquired is the word. Let’s be honest, that dowry is not as sacred or symbolic as it seems. It’s strictly business. The groom was buying. And if you know the phrase “Sinagukoye se?” (Did I not pay to have you?) is still used in Rwandan homes when a woman tries to rebel in her home. A reminder that she is a private property. The amount of cows (old form of money) depended on how much the father estimated the beauty of his daughter-to-be-sold. That’s harsh? Think about the act itself.

When it came to sex, rape was scripted in such a way that it became part of the rituals. The newly wed couple would wrestle till the man overpowers the young girl. And that was acceptable. Then you would argue, that cannot be true. What about kunyaza? Why would the man insist on making the woman squirt if he didn’t care? Well, if he cared so much he wouldn’t marry a child, force himself into her and shame her with names like Mukagatare if she did not squirt at all. On the other hand, a man who wouldn’t succeed to have overpower the bride and have sex with her for at least the first three nights was shamed. Then in some cases, his father, more experienced in the matter, would get in the mix to rape the girl and set the example. That too was culturally accepted and called gukazanura.

When I mentioned that we come from a culture of rapists, I got lynched on twitter. I understand we highly think ourselves. Myths have it that some of us are semi gods bla bla bla… maybe that’s where our sense of entitlement comes from. To think we are the epitome of greatness. I get it when feminist stand to fight patriarchy. It is stupid and totally fucked up! But what are you replacing it with? In the end we all know that power corrupts even the best of us. You would think Rwanda, having the highest number of women in parliament all these years and having some of the best rankings with #HeForShe is better suited to reform the patriarch system but guess what? When I tweeted about the insane amount of under-age girls raped while nobody mentioned the rapists’ whereabouts or any social justice procedure, I fell off my chair to learn that the resolution from the parliament, with the highest number of women seats in the world, was to jail any girl who would have sex before she is eighteen. Your men must be proud of you, ladies. You are officially condoning rape and damaging the victims.

However some young woke women have had enough of this shit and are taking the matter in their own hands to seek social justice realizing that as years go by, their scars open wide while sexual predators who had assaulted them roam freely and continue to prey on other women, making new victims.  @My250Tweets which is a collective twitter handle created by a Rwandan woman for the purpose of allowing Rwandans across the world to share their experiences, is being used as a platform to give a voice to rape victims coping with trauma in an insensitive system that does not want to take responsibility.

While I personally know some of the alleged rapists as people whom I drink, play, interact with often; some of them have qualities that I look up to but that does not mean they are incapable of rape. You have heard of pedophile priests, intellectual genocidaires, corrupt leaders… most of these characters actually use their influence commit these crimes.

Article 11: Rwandan culture as a source of home-grown solutions
In order to build the nation, promote national culture and restore dignity, Rwandans, based on their values, initiate home-grown mechanisms to deal with matters that concern them. Laws may establish different mechanisms for home-grown solutions

Our constitution is pro-homegrown solutions. This is how you see fit and there is nothing wrong with it. It’s an upgrade of the traditional courts taken notches up.

“The tendency to aggression is an innate, independent, instinctual disposition in man… it constitutes the powerful obstacle to culture.” – Sigmund Freud

I am not pointing fingers here. All I am saying is that we, men, are weird beings in our nature and we need to keep each other in check. And ladies, please don’t be shy at pointing at those sexist comments, jokes that we make. We won’t know if you don’t tell us your perspectives. Sorry it’s too much work but we are in this life together. I am so sorry for all you have been through as a people.

As for the legal procedure, I am not familiar with how Rwandan police deals with rape cases that are reported a while after the crime has been committed and there is no evidence. But somebody said that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, right? If your name is dropped, you probably have something to do with it. But obviously anyone accused of rape would defend themselves with phrases like “I didn’t do it.” “I don’t know that woman.” “I have never met that woman.” “We used to date; I didn’t give her the ring. She got mad. Bitches be crazy.”

Now I am just here wondering what is the way forward?

  1. How do you know the victims or the alleged rapists are telling the truth? You put them under the lie detector?
  2. What do the rape victims want to be done for them?
  3. What do the rape victims want to be done to the rapists?
  4. Can one victim’s testimonial be considered as evidence?
  5. Can more than one testimonial be considered as evidence?
  6. What happens if the alleged rapist is proven innocent but their reputation has been damaged?
  7. What happens to the victims whose identity has been publicly revealed?

Truth-folie Yours