After Rwandan genocide, Hutu and Tutsi women unite behind the drum

by Oscar Espinosa, CSM Correspondent & Laura Fornell CSM Correspondent from HUYE, RWANDA


148646Members of Rwanda’s first all-female percussion group, Ingoma Nshya, pour their hearts into their drumming. The group was started in 2004 to bring Hutu and Tutsi women together in a safe space after the 1994 genocide. Christine Musabyemariya (center) enjoys herself during a rehearsal.Oscar Espinosa

February 8, 2022

The women, chatting back and forth, carry heavy drums and handfuls of drumsticks out into the courtyard. Without a word, they stand in front of their instruments. Suddenly, the drumming explodes with such joy that it’s impossible not to be carried away by the intensity. 

We’ve come to take in a rehearsal of Rwanda’s first all-female percussion group, Ingoma Nshya. The sound of the drums is interwoven with a choreography that involves songs, dances, jumps, and shouts. 

Founded by Odile Gakire Katese in 2004, the project arose to heal divisions after the 1994 genocide, which left around 800,000 people dead. Ingoma Nshya provides a framework for Hutu and Tutsi women to come together in the spirit of sisterhood and reconciliation. 

“I was very alone after losing my family, and joining the group brought me happiness again,” says Agnès Mukakarisa, whose husband and children died in the genocide. “I’ve even been able to travel around Rwanda with the group and go to Senegal for the first time.”  

148646Oscar EspinosaDance is an essential part of the performances.

Members of Ingoma Nshya also had to overcome cultural stereotypes: Traditionally, drums have been the exclusive preserve of men.  


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Last edited 6/20/2022 11:57:24 PM

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