Mani Martin has refuted claims that hip hop music is gradually eroding the Rwandan culture as a result of an introduction of foreign words in Kinyarwanda by this genre of music.
Mani Martin was responding to claims by veteran musician Masamba Intore who alleged that hip hop musicians in Rwanda have introduced new words in the language that can’t be found in the Kinyarwanda dictionary.
Masamba made the claims while speaking at a public event in Kacyiru on Rwandan culture and values. He sharply criticized rapper Fireman who was introduced on stage to perform his song Mama Rwanda.
Immediately after leaving stage Masamba, together with Kalisa Rugano, the chairman and founder of Inganzo Ngali, took to the microphone to censure Fireman alleging that some of the words contained in the lyrics cannot be found in Kinyarwanda dictionary.
These statements were strongly refuted by Mani Martin who said that all cultures evolve. Speaking to the media, he said, “Even during their (Masamba and Rugano) times there were words their elders couldn’t understand, so for me I think there is evolution everywhere and culture is not excluded.”
In his speech Rugano warned Fireman that he would never win an internationally recognized accolade should he continue with the hip hop route.
He said: “I have seen Urukerereza and other cultural troops go and win trophies outside the country, but I am telling you, you will never…never be one of them.”
But perhaps Rugano may have passed his judgment too early on. Last month Mani Martin lost out on the coveted Prix Découvertes RFI 2013 to rapper Louis Salif Kiekieta a.k.a Smarty from Burkina Faso. It was the first time the award was allocated to an artist in this form of music genre.