I only stayed in one place in Rwanda - Solace Ministries Guest House in Kigali.
I thought I'd only stay 2 days, enough to find a cash machine if one existed, but on the second day I decided that wasn't enough and stayed about a week.
There's something about the place that took hold of me and kept me there. It's a support and refuge centre for those traumatised by the Genocide. So it's set up to be very welcoming and accepting of anyone who arrives.
Including paying visitors like me, who can stay in a first-rate guest house and take part in anything going on that they wish, more or less. The income from visitors makes a significant contribution to the running of the centre.
When I did finally depart, I sensed a strong feeling that really, there was no need to go yet, I could stay another 3 or 4 days - or more .......
And, there's music. Quite a lot of it.
During 2009 a music centre was established here. It was found that music gave a lot of comfort to those arriving for help and counselling. Music is deeply embedded in African culture after all.
So a recording studio was built by volunteer musicians and technicians from England, mainly Sussex.
And the Solace Gospel Choir was established. The members all having been affected by the Genocide.
One of their songs accompanies the home page of the Solace website here.
So this entry will take a look at Rwandan music through the work of Solace Ministries.
Here's a Youtube of the project to build the recording studio:
During my visit a concert hall was under construction, below the guest house. It was already in use by the Solace Gospel Choir and many other musicians in its partially-finished state. It's completed now.
Anyone staying there, like me, was welcome to sit in on any of the morning practices, like this one just warming up:
(This is a group of orphaned head-of-households)
And musical gatherings like this one, in the part-finished hall:
All these people have been affected by the Genocide.
The music floated around the building like silk in the breeze. Very relaxing and etherial.
During the day various music classes practise under the tutelage of the volunteer teacher and sound technician from England.
His 'day job' was to work with British charities to raise as much money as possible in as short a time as possible to equip the ministry with sufficient musical instruments so that all students wishing to learn could be accommodated.
Empty classrooms can be used by visitors to listen to the lesson next door or to access the free internet service.
One day during my visit, the volunteers, mainly Canadian, had asked the students to suggest things they'd like to learn about the West that could be covered in a single day. The consensus came back that they'd like to see what a western wedding was like. So after dinner on the evening before the event the volunteers got together to plan and rehearse a complete wedding ceremony that they would perform for the students.
Roles were allocated for bride and groom, best man, vicar, bride's dad, choir and organist and so on.
Well, after breakfast the next morning, some unexpected situation arose requiring the volunteer playing the bride's dad to head off into town for a while. A few eyes peered in my direction. I wasn't sure about that - I hadn't been around the previous evening for the rehearsals. Well, one of the others who had been there stepped forward and I could breathe again.
And what a magnificent event it was. I was out for most of it but returned in time for the start of the reception complete with simple buffet, ending when the bride and groom departed in their 'golden coach', the bride throwing a bouquet into the crowd of guests.
The students, who played the guests (all affected in some way or other by the Genocide) gave a very heartfelt and emotional ovation - their appreciation and enthusiasm could be felt by everyone, and drifted around everywhere.
So that's what this place is like. I sat in on a few morning practices by the choir and listened to individual lessons for singing and for piano.
Back then, the Solace Gospel Choir had just released a CD which was on sale in the guest house.
Songs Of Solace can be sampled and purchased here.
And a track seen here:
Since my visit, Dicken Marshall from Brighton has established a recording and production company so that the rights of Rwandan musicians to their recorded works can be properly protected. Income from sales goes to the artists and contributes to the running of Solace Ministries. Rafiki Records has now released a compilation CD, 'Rafiki Sampler', featuring Rwandan musicians, survivors of the Genocide, who previously had no access to recording or production facilities.
Tracks can be heard here,
and the CD, or individual tracks, purchased here.
Here's one of the bands on Rafiki Sampler, The EAC Troop:
And Sophie Nzayisenga who recorded at Solace Ministries can be seen on the BBC World Service here. (You may be prompted to select player settings)
Rafiki Record's website is here.
A write up in The Independent newspaper is here.
And a nice video of the journalist's visit:
The title frame above and the scene near the beginning (at about 18 seconds) were filmed in the corridor below the guest house and bring back many memories.
With the hall now completed, a counselling session, held every Wedneday, is underway:
Not always appropriate for visitors to attend, but the singing drifts all around the building.
Not easy to get on the road again, even though another African country awaits not far away.......
Posted by Ken Thomas at April 03, 2012 03:25 PM GMT
Our veteran travellers share their tips (and great stories) for staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure.
"A fantastic, informative and inspirational DVD."
"It's brilliant - thank you very much!"
Check it out at the HU Store! Remember to use Coupon Code 'ONTHEROAD' on your order when you checkout.
Next HU Events
- USA North Carolina: Sept. 4-7
- France Mini: Sep 5-7
- Canada Ontario: Sept. 11-14
- NEW! UK - Haggs Bank: Sept. 19-21
- USA California: Sept. 25-28
- Aus Queensland: Oct 3-6
- Aus Perth: Oct 10-12
- Germany Autumn: Oct 23-26
- Aus VIC: Oct 24-26
- NEW! Aus NSW: Oct 31-Nov 2
- NEW! South Africa: Nov 13-16
- NEW! HUMM Morocco: May 13-16, 2015
What others say about HU...
"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA
"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada
"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia
"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders
10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!
NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!
Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!
What turns you on to motorcycle travel?
Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!
New to Horizons Unlimited?
New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!
Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.Read more about Grant & Susan's story
Membership - help keep us going!
Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.
You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.
Books & DVDs
All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.
MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!
Story and photos copyright © All Rights Reserved.
Contact the author:
Editors note: We accept no responsibility for any of the above information in any way whatsoever. You are reminded to do your own research. Any commentary is strictly a personal opinion of the person supplying the information and is not to be construed as an endorsement of any kind.
Hosted by: Horizons
Unlimited, the motorcycle travellers' website!
You can have your story here too - click for details!