When I recorded my first song, Mibilizi, I felt a heavy load lifted off my shoulders. It was a feeling I had never experienced," Munyeshoza recalls. After releasing his debut album in , Munyeshoza decided to pursue a career in music hoping to help others heal. I decided I would make my songs light and preach the gospel of hope".
While at his office, I happened to interact with one of the people who had come around to get some of his music which he insists has helped him to heal. Not only are people getting healed but they are reconciling.
Munyeshoza met with a man who killed his family during a visit to the prison. I forgave him long ago and that is how we are going to achieve reconciliation. It had to start with me and many are getting inspired to do the same. That is why I recorded a song titled, Icyo dupfana cyiruta cyodupfa- 'the bond we share is much stronger than the grudge we have for each other'. He says it is time to work towards developing our country and we need everyone to participate. Using art as a form of healing and encouraging reconciliation. Using art to tell the genocide story and as a means to heal and reconcile people has been used a lot in Rwanda over the past years.
It has been used in form of theatre plays, movies, art exhibitions, music and storytelling. However, most people believe art is supposed to be entertaining but Munyeshoza disagrees. There's a form of art we call edutainment that is intended to give a positive message that can enrich people's spiritual and mental wellbeing. Various songs have been recorded by musicians across the country, short documentaries have premiered, and theatre plays have played a part in the healing and reconciliation process.
After interviewing Munyeshoza for an hour, I could see the passion in his eyes of wanting to use art; music in particular to foster reconciliation.
How music has healed the Genocide wounds
The government and various stakeholders should look for these children because we still have a long journey to go. These young men are the best people to continue the reconciliation because they grew up in very tough times," the singer notes. As we parted ways, I asked him if he had any last message to his fellow Rwandans during this commemoration period: "I would like to send a message to three different groups of people. First are the perpetrators. They should openly give testimonies about the atrocities they committed; show victims who haven't found their people where they burried them and publicly ask for forgiveness.
The second group is children born of rape during the Genocide. These children are sometimes stigmatised by society. We should endeavour to help them not to feel ashamed and encourage them to leave a better legacy than their parents. The third group is survivors. I encourage them to stay strong during this period and continue to work towards a better Rwanda.
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Music is a miraculous instrument used to heal the sick. After the Genocide against the Tutsi, people were emotionally and psychologically "sick. Their hearts were wounded, betrayed and neglected, but music has helped in repairing the hearts.
The Bible tells us that angels are always singing in Heaven. This means that when one sings their heart relaxes. For reconciliation, it is about making music that will have a positive impact on people's lives. Music does not fade even after years, a song can be played but a speech can be forgotten instantly. Besides, people can't reconcile without forgiving each other and music plays an important role in soothing hearts and that can eventually lead to reconciliation.
Actually I would like to say that much as musicians abused the music industry back then, they were backed by radio journalists who would play their songs. For music to have an effect on people an artist has to ask questions such as; what message am I sending? How will it benefit people who will listen to my songs? Musicians such as Simon Bikindi sang songs that spoilt this country but thank God we are singing songs that are building the country and it is through these songs that people are getting healed. We have a big role to play as artistes because the songs we make are what people's hearts and souls feed on.
Music reaches far places and has a strong impact on people's lives. For example, when my people listen to my songs, they start believing the message that am giving to them. Secondly, people will reconcile over music. Some people might have a strong liking for a particular artiste and will actually put their grudges on the side because of their love for this particular musician. On another note, I would like to ask artistes to get involved in reconciliation activities; they can give radio talk shows urging people to come together and build their country, pray and give advice to people and attend government programmes.
As a musician who records and performs commemoration songs, I believe that music heals the heart. I used to listen to the late Kamaliza's song, Humura Rwanda Nziza when I was six years after the genocide had been stopped, although I can't say that it helped me a lot, it gave me hope for a better tomorrow. You might find yourself getting angry at whatever or whoever drove a wedge between you and your expression.
You may find tears welling up as you mourn the years that you and your art have been apart. We all respond differently as we reclaim this lost part of ourselves. When I found Nia after years of not dancing, I cried in every class for a year. A year! Yes, it was uncomfortable but I stuck with it and it healed my heart. I nurtured my way through with rigorous self-care and deep love. How can you tend to your heroic self as you brave the return to your art? Many of our art wounds stem from insensitive comments.
It is not okay for anyone to discourage my expression — not even myself!
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What words of encouragement do you need to hear? What will bring you and your art closer together? Let your wounded creative self stretch a little.
Give yourself room to breathe, a chance to work out the kinks and build some strength. Give yourself a chance to enjoy the process itself: the feel of pastel on paper, the taste of exquisite words in your mouth, the freedom of moving your hips. Make something. Then make something else. Learn and make. And then learn and make and learn and make again and again and again. The more you make, the more you prove the naysayers wrong including yourself and the less pressure there is on each piece to serve as proof of your ability.
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I can't wait to see you there! What a great post.
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I so appreciate you taking the time to stop by. Thank you for your lovely words! If you have wounds that are getting between you and the arts, let the healing begin.