Message of forgiveness at Festival of Chichester

Having survived the genocide of 1994 in Rwanda, singer, songwriter and peace activist Jean Paul Samputu is one of the most prominent African artists on the world stage.

Thursday, 12th July 2018, 7:19 am
Updated Tuesday, 17th July 2018, 6:46 pm

As he says, he sings about love and forgiveness.

Jean Paul will visit Chichester to perform as part of the Amici Concerts series during the Festival of Chichester, with a date on Saturday, July 14 at 3pm in St Pancras Church, Eastgate Square, Chichester.

He said: “I only sing about love. We need to teach our children love.”

Winner of the 2003 Kora Award (the African Grammy) Jean Paul travels the world as a cultural ambassador for Rwanda, bringing to his audiences not only traditional African singing, dancing and drumming, but also a message of peace and reconciliation.

He comes to Chichester representing the award-winning charity for refugees, Music Action International.

His music is rooted in the rich traditions of Rwandan music and dance, with influences from Uganda, Burundi and the Congo.

“My life was always music and I was discovered singing in my church choir in Rwanda.”

“I received my first pay-cheque at the age of fourteen and was touring when the war started” he explains.

He was put in prison for six months then on his release, his family advised him to leave the country rather than return to his village.

He became well known touring in Burundi (south of Rwanda) and then the Rwandan genocide started in April 1994.

Jean Paul’s parents, three brothers and a sister were killed. When Jean Paul got back to his village, the survivors told him “your father has been killed by your best friend, your father’s friend.”

“I was taking drugs and wanted to die, because I couldn’t handle my anger and my bitterness. After nine years my friends brought me to the mountains to pray for me.

“While they were praying for me, a voice was telling me that what I was supposed to do was to forgive, and that message of forgiveness came all the time, at night when I was sleeping, when I prayed, and when people prayed for me.

“The voice was telling me, forgiveness is for you not for the offender. You will feel liberated when you decide to forgive.

“So I ended up saying yes to that voice because I didn’t have any alternative, and I wanted to be free from anger and from bitterness.”

Tickets from the Novium.