Rwandan band The Good Ones are in the Uk to play London’s Boogaloo bar tomorrow night (24 July) before heading to the Womad Festival at the weekend (25, 26). In a guest column they recall their journey here, both out of the shadow of their country’s bloody history, but also how they have “the land of a thousand hills” for the first time to tour the world.
Its been 20 years, but people still try to define people in Rwanda by the genocide. All of us were affected by it, but for us, it is just one of many things that has happened in life and it was a long time ago. Rwanda is our country and it is one we are proud to call home. It is very green and known as “the land of a thousand hills”. Peoplc often say it is “small”, but there are almost 12-million people here. How can that ever be considered small?
There are some good people and some bad, like everywhere. But we are a strong and proud people. People say we are survivors. But we are just trying to live our lives. We are the music group, The Good Ones, from the outskirts of Kigali, our nations capital. We met an American music producer, Ian Brennan, back in the summer of 2009 and he made a record for us.
None of us in our group have ever stepped foot outside of our country’s borders. We didn’t even have passports before. In fact, two of us have lived on the same family farms our entire lives. We are happy to fly on an airplane for the first time to come to England and play our songs. We are glad that some people are interested in what we have to say.
Most people from our country have very little money and instruments are rare. We often play with broken guitars we find or we have to borrow them from friends, but what matters is what is in our hearts. And we try to show what is inside through our voices and with our words. We hear music in English from abroad like Bob Marley and Santana. We are fortunate and glad that maybe someone somewhere else is listening to songs in our language Kinyarwanda. Even if they cannot understand our lyrics, hopefully we can still communicate.
One of our songs says, “We are only renters on this earth.” It is true that the four of us as people have few material things like clothing, but ultimately none of us will leave this earth with anything except our spirits anyway, so what is it that really has value in this world? The music we play is folk music from the workers. It is what we know. That is who we are. We choose to write about love, because really what else is there?
For more head to Deadoceans.com