“Artists should stop being beggars”
Being also a youth program coordinator with PSI, Mc Monday is an artist with a message. Yet not only about Aids, but also about Rwanda’s music industry. “It is not yet time to sell music, first we have to create the market.”
And musicians should stop complaining that government doesn’t help them: “You should have something to offer; personally, I’m still trying to make myself worth helping.”
Focus: Why exactly do you call your self MC Monday?
Mc Monday: First of all, I’m an MC, and the ‘Monday’ name was given to me my parents because I was born on Monday. But this is just a nickname, my real name is Sibbo Gashumba Assumani.
Focus: Where and when were you born?
Mc Monday: The ‘when’ part I can answer, and that is in February 1976. But the ‘where’ part, I choose not to reply to it; I consider myself a Rwandan from the Great Lake’s region, I do not want to segregate. Rwanda today is so divided because people lived in different countries before the genocide, and thus have different cultures, but I choose not to segregate.
Focus: When did you decide to join the music industry?
Mc Monday: I have not always been into singing. My first love was dancing, and I always thought I would be choreographer as I was referred to as the young Michael Jackson by my peers. It was not until 1995, when I did karaoke, that I felt music was my passion. By 1997 I had released my first song, Nseko nziza.
Focus: You have taken on a new kind music, “crank”; do you think this will affect your fan as “tonto w’abana”?
Mc Monday: No, I did a lot of research about it before I actually decided to take up this style. I believe everything has to be up-dated, and this is my way of modernizing my music. I play music for people, not for myself, and today crank is the most popular kind of music because it has a simple sound, and this gives you a chance to speak out and explain you self.
This is what I want to do, to explain my self and let everyone out there understand the message I am trying to preach. Also, I think that it is only wise to concentrate on the youth because they are the most interested in music. And as for the children, I’ll still do some songs for them, so I am still “tonto waabana”; I’m even organizing free concerts for children, especially the disadvantaged, to make them feel special.
Focus: But do you think this is in line with our cultural way of singing?
Mc Monday: Actually yes, it is; I believe mixing cultures will give us a nice future. Also, my style is not exactly American crank; it is a mixture of the Rwandan Ikinimba and crank, which I call Kinyacrank.
Focus: Recently a group musicians came together to sell their music for the first time in Rwanda, what made you hold back?
Mc Monday: (hesitates) Well, I think it was some kind of mistake, because how many people have CD players in Rwanda? People like music, but their means are still low. This is not the right moment to sell music in Rwanda, it is not yet time. This is our time create the market – phase A as I like to call it – for promoting ourselves before we can properly sell the music.
Also, although working together as musicians is good, I feel it was very unprofessional for them to combine their songs on one album. A person may fancy Miss Jojo, but won’t necessarily like Family squad.
Focus: Is music the only thing you do?
Mc Monday: No, I work for PSI as the “Abajeune” brand coordinator for youth programs. I love the youth, and I want them to understand that the future belongs to them; I want them to believe in a future without HIV. I do a show on Contact Fm for PSI that talks about the youth, and we have debates various topics like Aids and parent and child communication.
In addition to this I host three other shows on radio 10, one on Saturday about mixing cultures, especially in terms of music; another on Thursday, which I call Ladies’ Night where we talk about women in an effort to teach them how to be open. On Sunday I have another show strictly for Rwandan music to promote our local artists.
Focus: Do you think Rwanda’s music industry is developing?
Mc Monday: Yes, I do think so, but it is rather at a slow rate. This can only be blamed on the artists themselves. Artists should get rid of the beggar syndrome that is eating them up; all those artists who go around saying that the government does not support them should stop complaining.
The government will only support you when you have something to offer; for example I do not need help now, I’m still trying to make myself worth helping.
Focus: What should the public expect from you soon?
Mc Monday: My first crank album is coming out with a number of nice songs like Byabindi, a song talking about people’s reaction to Inyoni giving it a negative image. Also, my new name is “Double M” – as I said I’m up dating my self.
Focus: What advice would you give fellow artists?
Mc Monday: I would like to tell them to stop going from door to door asking for money; knock on the door of God because He gives so much more along with inspiration. Also, artists should love one another and not go around talking about each other negatively.
For example, I’m doing it, I now have a studio called “Impano y’Imana” with modern equipment and I can produce my own music. I have even produced music for some artists like Lamek Murekani aka LMAR and his song was a hit.