Thursday, November 25, 2010
FROM A REFUGEE TO A MUSIC ICON: The Story of Kidum
Currently one of the top artistes in Eastern Africa, his entry into the public eye has been far from easy. Yet, Kidum 36 has cemented his position as one of East Africa’s most versatile singer as well as skilful master drummer of his time.
Born in 1974 in the remote village of Kinama, Northern Burundi, the artist whose real name is Jean Pierre has overcome the hurdles that would have discouraged many.
Kidum wasn’t special or so he thought. He describes his childhood as average but one who had a deep fascination for music ever since he could remember.
That’s how his pursuit for drums begun. “All I could find were some buckets we used at home for washing, I upturned one of them, took two sticks and started hitting them according to the beat of the music as it played.” He says.
When he was only 12 years, he played in church and one of the famous Burundian musician spotted him Kidum admits that this was his platform and after 5 years with the band he left for another band, Electric Power which only lasted for while before the war started and he had to flee escaping the war.
Burundi, one of the world's poorest nations, is now emerging from a 12-year, ethnic-based civil war. The ethnic violence sparked off in 1994 made Burundi the scene of one of Africa's most difficult conflicts although its now on the recovery process, it faces the formidable tasks of reviving a shattered economy and of forging national unity.
Its is when the war broke out that Kidum found himself in refugee status destined for Kakuma refugee camp where he stayed for a while before moving to Nairobi, a camp where most of his country mates are after they escaped from the war. “I was alone only 21 years and I followed another group that was coming to Nairobi but we headed to Kakuma first and I found my way to Nairobi” he says
On arrival in Nairobi, he visited several studios being turned away as he understood very less of both Swahili and English but he was taken by one producer and he has since picked up.
Born from a Tutsi mother and Hutu father, Kidum is out with his guitar to pass the tall order of peace in the softest language.
He says that although he did not make it as a politician, he continues to sing for peace in his home country hoping that one day people would learn to live in peace
Back in his home country Kidum is an icon of hope and reconciliation to the many who have been caught up in the long standing civil war in between the Hutu and Tutsi bribes in Burundi.
His first album, Yaramenje (2001), established Kidum as the voice of peace in the Great Lakes region. He followed it up with the hugely successful Shamba album, released in 2003. Ishano (poison) released October 2006 by Soundafrica,
Things went from bad to worse even after releasing his third album, Ishano.
A few videos later, and persisting with his band to the extent of playing for free in pubs, by 2007, fans started appreciating his music.
In a series of homecoming concerts staged in October 2006 in both Burundi and Rwanda, Kidum received standing ovations and praise from Rwandese President, Paul Kagame for his song Amosozi (tears).
After the peace concerts, Kidum was named the honorary ‘prefect’ of musical and creative arts in Bujumbura after a series of countrywide performances in 2007.
His fourth and latest album features songs, like Mshoma, a wedding song and in this he teams up with Nameless in Greedy and Nitafanya with Tanzanian diva Lady Jay Dee.
The peace ambassador has also released songs with a Rwandan born Frankie Joe about peace, War and Hunger mostly focusing on real life issues.
The vocal prowess exhibited in his songs is unmistakable and will leave you yearning for more.
Even as Kidum has no doubts saying his band is among the best, he is afraid that his smooth success has come with enemies.
In February this year, there was a rumour mills that Kidum had died.
But he adds that this will not make him fall and will continue giving his music and fans his all for he believes that he has the power to do it and only God can give him the strength.