... "God , where were you?" ...
... "What's the point of living?" ...
Jean Paul Samputu posing for this article in the spring of 2015 (Photo, Rafiki Ubaldo)
After a genocide that took more or less one million lives, the RPF defeated the genocidal forces in July 1994. As soon as he could, Jean Paul went to his hometown, to see if anyone had survived. He learnt that his father, mother, one sister, three brothers, and many members of his extended family had been killed. This is when Jean Paul heard that Vincent killed his father. Feelings of revenge invaded him. He decided to kill Vincent as soon as possible. Yet, he started to sing for peace. He organized the first post-genocide concert at the national stadium in Kigali. “It was a concert for peace, people needed peace,” says Jean Paul. But he was still devastated. He composed songs that revealed his disgust of living after genocide. One of those songs is “ God, where were you?”, the other one “What is the point of living?”
He went on to start a record company. He also married in 1995, and was blessed with a son, Willy. Life changed in 1996 when his second child, Claudia, was born with intellectual disabilities. Jean Paul, his wife and the rest of the surviving family started a long struggle to save the life of Claudia. Hospitals in Rwanda and Kenya could not help. Family members who lived in Canada decided to help his wife and daughter move there to see the best doctors. Jean Paul stayed in Rwanda with his son Willy. Doctors in Canada did what they could but came to the conclusion that Claudia would not live long. However, they managed to use modern technologies to keep her alive for as long as she could breath. Claudia was moved to a special hospital and put under the permanent help of expert nurses. In such a situation, Jean Paul’s wife started to miss her son and her husband. A decision was made to join her.
By this time Jean Paul was destroyed. He had started to drink heavily. The story of his family members killed in the genocide, the hate and feelings of revenge against the people who killed his parents and relatives, and now the story of Claudia, all of this dawned on him. When he joined his wife in Canada he tried not to give up. He recorded an album that brought him to the international scene. But success could not help. He became very frustrated and life became difficult. He felt guilty for everything that had gone wrong, particularly the sickness of his daughter Claudia. In the beginning of 2000, Jean Paul gave up completely. He left Canada thinking that things would be better for his wife and children if he was not around. He went back home to Rwanda. But when he arrived in Rwanda, things became worse. He landed in the middle of a serious conflict between the government and Valens Kajeguhakwa, his long-term sponsor. Jean Paul felt it was necessary to leave the country as soon as possible. By the end of 2000, just months after he had come back home to Rwanda, Jean Paul moved to Kampala, Uganda.
Once in Uganda, Jean Paul continued with his music. At the same time he felt tired of life. He continued to drink heavily and became addicted to drugs. He hoped that alcohol and drugs would end his life. He abandoned himself. Sometimes he would be sent to prison, having been unable to pay debts. He would also provoke the police on patrols in Kampala. They would simply arrest him and send him to prison. And since he was a famous artist, people would make sure he was released as soon as possible. The very few times he came back to his senses, he listened to his friends who urged him to see witchdoctors and ask them what his end would be like. Witchdoctors failed to help him. But on one occasion, a witchdoctor told him his case was too complicated that only those who pray to God could help him.
Jean Paul went to meet those who pray to God. He joined born again christians at Mountain Prayer, a place outside Kampala. They prayed for him. Miracles started to happen. Jean Paul heard the voice of God telling him to travel to Rwanda and forgive Vincent. But he rejected this order from God. Forgiving Vincent or any other killer was not what he needed to hear at that moment.
Copyright @ Rafiki Ubaldo