With Rwanda advancing in music, various genres have been embraced, then further incorporated into its sound. Recent years have seen the rise, then the drastic disappearance of the Afro-reggae genre, which leaves many wondering whether it still holds space amongst the local entertainment scene.
As the world commemorated Bob Nesta Marley, the legendary Jamaican Reggae musician, Rwandans too weren’t left behind, as various venues especially with in Kigali gathered numbers of enthusiasts on May 11. Among these is One Love, a prominent spot which also gathered hundreds to it.
While it was free entrance at other venues, One Love charged and entrance fee of RFW3,000, which many obliged to pay. With live performances by local Reggae and Afro-dancehall acts Dee Rugz, Tino, Ras 2T, Opobo, Jabalove Ismael, Ras Gatera among others, it was evident how the Reggae performances are loved, but posing a question of where and why they are no longer frequent.
With the local music industry lately a vibrant entertainment venture, genres like the Afro-pop, Afro-R&B, Afro-Hip-hop, Afro-soul and traditional have been embraces through media, and mainstream events, while Afro Reggae artists barely make an appearance.
Prominent names, since 2005 have been Ras Mukasa, Rasmuda, Ras Kayaga, Ras Banamungu, Ben Nganji, Ras Kassim, Ras 2T, Natty Dread, who also majorly is based in Uganda, Jah Bon D, a Switzerland based Artist, and groups like Holly Jah Doves and Strong Voice, but these have in the recent years vanished of the stage, yet some rarely make appearances in just a few annual events like the Kigali Up Music Festival and Isano Music Festival.
Moses Opobo, a close observer and lifestyle journalist admits how the genre has faded due to the fact that most prominent reggae acts decided to relocate and practice the music out of the country, while others relocated into other ventures.
To Felicien Ntakirutimana, who by fans is known as Ras 2T, Reggea has been in existence in Rwanda and elsewhere since way back, but might not have correctly been perceived by society, “Reggae might have been done and consumed like other genres, yet it is a completely different type,” he explains.
Ntakirutimana stresses that Reggae is more of a genre for sensitization for love, peace, which Africa and the world needs.
But along the way, Reggae, which is mostly embraced by Rastafarians has to this date been perceived as a genre of drug addicts, which Ntakirutimana refutes.
Shenge Ndimbira, a rising female reggae musician also affirms how to this day, society hasn’t yet well understood the Reggae culture, then the music
“Problem is how most radios and Televisions broadcast content for that specific moment, and not impact, while even artist to are dragged by the market’s demand, which affects creativity,” Ndimbira adds.
Ahead of the concluded concert, they were advised on making it fully free to public in fear of people not turning up, which Ntakirutimana declined, “Am quite positive that if well organized and advertised, people can turn up for a Reggae concert as they did,” he affirms.
With Reggae music barely making airplay across most local radio and television stations, Ntakirutimana affirms how local musicians submit in songs, but these aren’t played due to the fact that radio proprietors don’t give it priority.
With Reggae facing this, Afro-dancehall musicians too face the same dilemma, “There is an unfair play of music within the broadcast media, which suffocates the genres,” explains Dennis Nkurunziza alias Dee Rugz , a 28 year old Reggae and Dancehall musician.
Reggae unlike other genres hasn’t by most African countries been commercialized, yet even the Artists themselves have rather taken a back seat, in confidence that they hold good music, while forgetting how to marketing it further to audiences, “Today’s FM and Television, even most event organisers hold a culture of more placing emphasis of giving prominence to Pop artists, since these hold a lot of appeal away from their music,” explains Mr. Opobo.
Ntakirutimana explains that with other genres targeting specific age groups, Reggea is cross-cutting music, whose concerts are worth investing into.
Mr. Opobo advises Reggae and Dancehall musicians to go out and reach out to audience in line with marketing the genres, “They should hold media tours to get affiliated to audiences through media houses,” he adds.
This story was first published via rwandatoday.africa , a Rwandan weekly Newspaper of Nation Media Group; http://rwandatoday.africa/lifestyle/They-are-stopping-reggae-/4383200-5122634-v44l45z/index.html