Songs of the voiceless

Songs of the voiceless
December 14, 2011 Dave Fullerton

Two of the most marginalised groups in Rwanda are the slum dwellers and the traditional population known as the Batwa. On the hills outside Rwanda’s capital city, Kigali, traditional Batwa musicians found a new voice in the urban community through an unlikely collaboration with local hip-hop star, Pacachi.

Australian Helene Thomas (ABC Radio National) went along for the music and discovered the common theme between these seemingly incompatible styles—both groups use music to express their frustrations, their own hardship and the hardship of others.

There is an interesting synergy between this indigenous Batwa music and the street hip-hop that is rising as the most popular music genre throughout Rwanda. The street hip-hop artists mostly reside in the slums of Rwanda. They rap about similar issues including poverty, inequality, AIDS and homelessness.

One of the poorest and most disadvantaged Batwa communities is situated just on the outskirts of Rwanda’s capital city, Kigali. Accompanying Helene to this community was one of the street hip-hop artists, Pacachi. Inspired by their songs and the issues the Batwa were singing about, he returned to the slum where he lives and told his friends about this music and the Batwa’s situation. They came up with the idea to do a collaborative compilation, combining traditional Batwa music with street hip-hop.

LINK: original article on ABC website