Inanga: A Story of Survival in a Daughter’s Rwanda

1959 Words8 Pages
The Inanga and Its Place in African Music

(Option One)

In the documentary Inanga: A Song of Survival in a Daughter’s Rwanda, Sibomana Athanase says, “After the drum, the inanga is the queen of all the traditional instruments” (Inanga: A Story of Survival in a Daughter’s Rwanda). For Rwandans, it is an instrument that is deeply rooted in tradition and in culture, yet as time goes on, it is slowly losing its appeal across generations. Traditionally associated with the Tutsi people, the inanga’s identity lies in its historical origin. Played in the courts in order to soothe the Tutsi kings, or mwami, the inanga became a concrete symbol of the contention and power divide that separated Rwanda into two distinct groups (Barz, McGovern). It is impossible to assess the significance of the inanga without first looking at the historical background of Rwanda. It is within this context that the inanga drew its meaning—both as a symbol of destruction and of rehabilitation. It is imperative that the role of the inanga be assessed from an African perspective; only then can one fully appreciate the instrument as a national symbol rather than a primitive and inconsequential artifact.

The role of the inanga as a political tool was brought on by cultural conflict. Until Rwanda was colonized by Germany in 1890, Rwandans had no concept of racial differences, and there existed only Banyarwanda—people of Rwanda (Barz, McGovern). This racial divide between Hutu and Tutsi was created and implemented by colonizers. Hutus were determined to be the inferior race. Short and heavy, the Hutus were viewed as “born to be led” while the taller and skinnier Tutsis were considered “born leaders” (14.4). Therefore, when Rwanda became an independent nation in 196...

... middle of paper ...

...iately advocate for tradition. Rather than disregarding the music, we must appreciate it. Then and only then will we be able to consciously appreciate the music for what it is, rather than contributing to the problem and promoting the disappearance of African culture in music.

Works Cited

Barz, Gregory, and Patrick McGovern. Inanga: A Story of Survival in a Daughter's

Rwanda. 2010. CD Insert. Vanderbilt University, Nashville.

Barz, Gregory F. Music in East Africa: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture. New

York: Oxford UP, 2004. Print.

Inanga: A Story of Survival in a Daughter's Rwanda. Prod. Gregory Barz. Perf. Sophie

Nzayisenga, Kirusu Thomas, Sibomana Athenase, Meddy. 2010. Global Music Archive. Web. 15 Apr. 2014.

Stone, Ruth M. Music in West Africa: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture. New

York: Oxford UP, 2005. Print.

More about Inanga: A Story of Survival in a Daughter’s Rwanda

Open Document