That little fear will never leave you.. It’s what keeps you on the age and makes you human… Fancy a little story? My friend Karengera Kirenga asked me to MC his mom, Diva Cécile Kayirebwa, which I spontaneously accepted, with honor. It was her Seventieth birthday and she’d been singing all her life. So it was the celebration of a life, but also of music and culture and family and Rwanda.
Many great singers and dancers had come to celebrate her; Inganzo Ngali, Masamba, Muyango, Patrick Nyamitali, Nganji, Jules Sentore; it was magical..
Just before the show, I went backstage to check if all was OK. I found aunt Cécile breathing rhythmically, as though to soothe her inner Soul, before she could make her entrance on stage. Shocked, I asked:
– Could it be that you are a tad stressed, do you still get that?
– Each time, she answered; I’ve been singing all my life but music still intimidates me.
– Music is a delicate, evanescent gift, which her, the best of them all, never take for granted…
Forgetting my role as MC, I watched in awe as she went through her ritual; a sip on a glass of wine; in hail, exhale, a drag on a cigarette, inhale, exhale; hands lifted softly in the air as though to invoke her namesake Saint Cecile, the patron of musicians, and suddenly she was back; I’m ready! Smiling at us…
A captivating moment for me, it is why I even write these little stories, I learned that we must keep little uncertainties to our lives, if it is to have any meaning at all. We could approach life like the cherry blossom, whose fleeting beauty is like life itself… The Japanese call it: mono no aware: ‘the pathos of things’, ‘an empathy toward ephemera’, an untranslatable reverence to things immaterial; like the voice of Mama Cecile…
Each time she intones ‘Umunezero’, A happy, yet melancholic ballad, transporting Rwandans back in time; in exile or on the battlefield; raising feelings of an upcoming spring or heartbreaks for the fallen loved ones; a reminder of the fleeting nature of life and, like ash where we shall all return, its heartbreaking quickness’.
If we want to remain human like Cecile Kayirebwawe must all have little fears, or, like Cesaria Evora or Oscar Wilde, ‘we must have a cigarette. The perfect type of perfect pleasure. It is exquisite, and it leaves one unsatisfied. What more can one want?’ – The Picture of Dorian Gray