ARTICLE: Mudibu's Album Launch 'Inzatsa'
St Ethelburga's Centre, London, July 2015
In the heart of London’s business district, surrounded by gleaming sky scrapers and noisy machines creating new additions to the already crowded skyline, is a secret gem of calm and medieval beauty. This is St Ethelburga’s, London’s Centre of Reconciliation and Peace, and on a warm July evening a crowd is starting to gather in the flower-filled courtyard to attend a special event dedicated to peace and peacemakers past and present.
Mudibu, a Burundian artist, is collaborating with Celebrate Life Events to launch his new album ‘Inzatsa’.
Burundi is a small country in East Africa, Rwanda’s neighbour, with an equally bloody history but a lot less attention on the World stage. The past few months have seen tensions erupt into violence once again as elections loom and corruption is rife.
Mudibu is no stranger to violence, he survived the infamous school massacre of Kibimba when he was 16 years old and just a few months later came within an inch of losing his life a second time in a gang shooting which left him seriously wounded. With the help of a scholarship from the 'The Hugh Pilkington Charitable Trust' based in Oxford, he came to the UK to study and has lived here ever since. But Mudibu has not forgotten his homeland, and as time passes he is trying to make sense of the society he grew up in. Music plays a large part in this and his new album, for the first time, is written in his native language, Kirundi.
You don’t need to know anything about Mudibu’s past, or even the language he sings in, to feel the message conveyed in his songs. Besides possessing a rich and powerful voice, and a charismatic stage presence, there is an intensity and passion to the melodies and the way he delivers them, which instantly captures the listener’s attention and reaches deep inside.
This was true for the whole evening. Jean-Paul Samputu, himself an extraordinary musician and survivor of the Rwandan genocide, opened the event with four beautiful songs. His voice leant itself perfectly to the acoustics of the space and his song ‘To the Children’ which he sang in English as well as Kinyarwanda, was extremely touching. This was followed by a short film, projected onto the wall, containing Prem Rawat’s message of peace. The crowded room fell silent as people listened in rapt attention to Prem’s simple but profound words. ‘Peace begins with you. We are not here to kick off the quest for peace. This is just one more chapter in the history of peace.’
When Mudibu came to the stage, with his full band, things started to get lively and as the event progressed everyone was dancing.
Outside in the courtyard a small film crew interviewed audience members. Some admitted, shame-facedly, that they had never heard of Burundi before tonight, while others expressed their admiration for Mudibu for having the courage to speak up about the injustice going on there. Perhaps the feeling for the whole night was summed up by a lady who said:
‘It was a hard day today, but as soon as I got in the space I just completely melted. It proved to me again the power of music, and the power of peace.'
Stay tuned for more events with Celebrate Life Events and Mudibu.