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WAR DIVIDES, MUSIC CONNECTS
Using music to bridge divides, connect communities,
and heal the wounds of war and conflict.
August 14, 2010 •• Rwanda Youth Music
Goodbye Kigali, Hello Gisenyi, and Some Drumming

Last Thursday we packed our dirty socks and left Kigali. It was not easy. We had been working with the HIV+ youth and kids, the HIV+ women support groups, and with the WE-ACTx team for three weeks and naturally we became attached to them. They taught us to sing songs in Kinyarwanda, to dance and drum, and to eat too much carbs for lunch (bananas, potatoes, bananas, rice, bananas, sweet potatoes, bananas, beans, bananas, and cooked bananas). They shared their wishes with us: the wish for health, the wish for unity, the wish for love. And we learned to recognize them by their mere laughter.

A typical Rwandan carbs-drenched meal (minus the meat)
(the bananas were eaten/removed from/hidden under the food)

The week before we left we joined the weekly trip of the summer camp. This time the trip included a visit to the national museum, devouring ice cream at the Inzozi Nziza, and the highlight: a drum spectacle and workshop given by the Ingoma-Nshya (see here, and here). This women drum group was established by widows and genocide survivors, but is now open for other women as well.

The performance of Ingoma-Nshya

The show included traditional drumming, dance and singing, and was very powerful and impressive. After the women dazed us with their performance, we all got the chance to drum as well.

Click here for the first audio file: singing and a long drumming sequence.
Click here for the second audio file: singing, children laughing, and some drumming!

The final show of the WE-ACTX summer camp was incredible! The children sang, danced and drummed, and their mothers clapped and laughed and cheered. In the end, everyone came up on stage and danced together. After the show we approached the mother of P, the deaf child in the program. She was speechless; her son cannot hear, and barely speaks, but she had just heard him playing the guitar during the performance.

We left Kigali and are now in Gisenyi, a north-western city of Rwanda, on the shores of Lake Kivu, bordering with the city of Goma in DRC (the Congo).

View Larger Map

On first sight Lake Kivu might seem like a pastoral, happy, fish-friendly, come-and-swim-its-perfectly-safe kind of lake, but don’t let it fool you! It is one of the most vicious and morbid lakes out there.

Lake Kivu, looking innocent

This bit of information is from Wikipedia: “Lake Kivu is one of three known exploding lakes, along with Cameroonian Lake Nyos and Lake Monoun, that experience violent lake overturns. Analysis of Lake Kivu’s geological history indicates sporadic massive biological extinction on millennial timescales. The trigger for lake overturns in Lake Kivu’s case is unknown but volcanic activity is suspected. The gaseous chemical composition of exploding lakes is unique to each lake; in Lake Kivu’s case, methane and carbon dioxide due to lake water interaction with a volcano. The amount of methane is estimated to be 65 cubic kilometers (if burnt over one year, it would give an average power of about 100 gigawatts for the whole period). There is also an estimated 256 cubic kilometers of carbon dioxide. The methane is reported to be produced by microbial reduction of the volcanic CO2[3]. The risk from a possible Lake Kivu overturn would be catastrophic, dwarfing other documented lake overturns at Lakes Nyos and Monoun, because of the approximately two million people living in the lake basin.”

Unsuspecting fishermen going to work in the late afternoon

We hope to write to you again.

•• Topics Rwanda Youth Music