A difficult past

Rutabana faced death many times. Already in 1973, during the events around the overthrow of the first republic, at the tender age of three, he tested his first persecution, spending nights hiding in mosquito infested valleys on the back of his mother. In 1990, while still at high school, he was tortured and locked up for six months accused by the second republic of being an RPF sympathiser.

In 2000, after uncovering an assassination plan against the then Speaker of Parliament, he decided to go to his rescue although they didn’t know each other.

Risking his own life, he.conducted a commando operation and managed to save the Speaker’s life and brought him to safety. He was arrested, tortured for months and locked up again by the third republic.

From hell to hell

Rutabana is finally face to face with death, because of a political regime of the Tutsis, the same one for which he poured his blood, in many battles including that by which fell Kigali, and that halted the infamous genocide against the Tutsis by the RPF.

Rendered freedom in 1991, Benjamin had thought he had seen, in the war led by the RPF, the hope of Tutsi salvation. It was then that, with everything to lose, he threw himself in the front lines of the battle. Victory had barely settled before a dictatorship did, one the artist could have never imagined, here to announce and denounce the rampant evil that was to come.

So here he is once again in 2019, in prison just like the days of the fallen regime. From yesterday's Hutu political regime to the current Tutsi regime, Benjamin Rutabana will have gone from hell to hell, which would birth its story in a book that would bear the name.

Raised with a keen sense of justice, of love and of liberty, Benjamin never feared risking his life to defend his values; inherited and ingrained in him by his father, a Seventh-day Adventist pastor. With faith deeply rooted in him, driven and carried along the way by his music, the singer never doubted that life - and love - would conquer all, and overrule death.

Strengthened by faith and through art, Benjamin Rutabana will continue to fight, this time in the ranks of the RNC, the Rwandan National Congress. His sole purpose is to give his all, one last time, in fighting against situations of violence, violations of human rights and cruelties that endlessly feed off each other. Will we ever see this come to fruition? The question is not a rhetorical one.

Let the Rwanda National Congress be the one to answer, bluntly and assuringly. But in the meantime, let us run to the rescue of Benjamin Rutabana. Today it's him, but tomorrow it could be you. In the end, it is all the more advantageous for you than it is for him.

Benjamin and his music


Interview of Ben Rutabana about his book


Extract from the book "De l'enfer à l'enfer" (Only available in French)

"Thank God, the children of Rwanda have not only inherited death. When the poet says, "Life is evil," the echo answers, "Sing!" That's why I've been singing since the time of my childhood. Our people know it, they love my songs...

...Music has never left me, even closer to death. I pray that you never encounter prison and torture - with or without music! If it is true that pain is part of all life, I must however do everything to spare you from the nightmares which still haunt my nights ..." p.19

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Support Benjamin Rutabana

www.freebenrutabana.com and #FREEBENRUTABANA are a website and hashtag set up for an effort to find Ben Rutabana who disappeared in September 2019. Please use them to spread the information and to help us, Ben’s family, in our quest to bring back our husband, father, brother and friend to safety. We thank you everyone playing a role in this act of humanity.

Let’s ask for the release of Ben Rutabana. What to do, concretely? In all sorts of ways, and especially in the very way in which the artist himself helped others by his talent. Any way counts, your ideas, your prayers, donations, a little of your money too, especially during this particular time when it is necessary, at all costs, at all prices to find the humanist virtuoso Benjamin Rutabana who also is father of young children. Let's support the family to find and get him released.