Rodrigue Pageau Uwimbabazi (Photo provided by Jazz for Humanity)
Larry Updike talks to Uwimbabazi Rodrigue Pageau on Up to Speed at 4:45 p.m. today.
Jazz for Humanity has been running for five years but this is the first year that a musician from the Kirironko community will take the stage for the event.
Uwimbabazi Rodrigue Pageau is a child of war. He was born in a refugee camp after his family sought solace there during the Rwandan war. Rodrigue was still a young child when his family returned to Burundi, a land-locked country in Eastern Africa, bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the east and south and the Congo to the west.
Just 20-years-old, Rodrigue has seen more in his life than most of us see in a lifetime. Along the way, he has discovered that music has helped him find his true path. He took time to speak with SCENE about his commitment to music and his home country of Rwanda.
What role has music played in your life?
In 1999, we came back to Rwanda, but it was hard for my mom to raise me alone without a job. In 2000, she got a job of cleaning a house and taking care of a little girl who was living in that family. My uncle took me in but he was poor and couldn't send me to school either. That's when I made the decision to go to church every Sunday and get involved with a choir of young children. When I was in the choir the pastor looked at me and asked me if I could be the translator for the church, translating Suahilli to Kinyarwanda and I said yes. After few weeks the Church sponsored me to go to primary school. My mom died when I was in primary 3.
How did you get involved with Ubuntu Edmonton?
I started working with Maman Nicole, from Ubuntu Edmonton, as a translator in 2005 when she came to visit the widows. I agreed to help her. Since then she has brought light and stars to my life. She adopted me in 2006. Since then I have worked with Ubuntu. I am the director of volunteering services, and I started a small company called The Visionaries.
When Maman Nicole adopted me I realized that I was talented and that it was time for me to sing and to be an instrument of beloved peace. I grew up through hard times and tough things. Once I saw light I said let me shine in it. That's when I started singing and playing drums.
What can you express in music that you can't in any other way?
In music I can share my background. I can deliver the messages of hope to the world. I can share easily my love, motions and feelings of life. I do not make music to be famous but to be useful. I love music because it helps me to build my life.
What does it mean to you to be part of Jazz for Humanity?
It means a lot to me. They have worked hard to help the lives of the widows and orphans living in the village of Imena in Kimironko. It will be a time to thank all who has. It will be also a great pleasure to collaborate with other Canadian artists. The money that will be raised will help us build a new day care and to make a professional studio for the young artists in Rwanda.
Check out Rodrigue's music.