African roots guitar

African roots guitar
March 3, 2013 Dave Fullerton
In arts and culture, ideas

Jacques ‘Popo’ Murigande calls his music ‘world blues’. He loves playing around the intersection of the different traditional styles of Batwa, Bahutu and Batutsi music.

He was born in a Burundian refugee camp and emigrated to Canada as a teenager.

“Canadian music festivals made me who I am, really,” he said recently. “They made me realise how healthy it is to do workshops with other musicians and to learn from them. If you’re open, you end up developing this art form that you weren’t really expecting.”

A singer-songwriter-guitarist, his rhythm and vocal style comes from an area of south-western Rwanda near the Congo border. His album “Gakondo” is a tribute to ancient Rwandan songs and poems.

He’s always been concerned about African children losing touch with their musical roots and growing up thinking that making music means rapping American-style to a computer-generated track. He wants to bring back an awareness of creating music on instruments.

“This is how music is made. First there are the humans, the players of instruments – not machines!”

He was one of the driving forces behind the inaugural 2011 KigaliUp music festival, featuring roots, African, reggae, blues and hip hop artists from around the world. At the time, a music festival for families, staged in a park was a foreign concept.

“When I went to rent the park they said, ‘Are you crazy? Music in here?’ But this is exactly where music should happen – not in stadiums full of VIPs and soccer goals. I want kids to be safe in the park – to feel comfortable and to feel like they belong in this Rwanda that we’re trying to build.”

For info on KigaliUp go to their Facebook page

You can also find more of The Mighty Popo’s music on iTunes.