Letter To My Beloved Brother Frère Stanislas, Sister Mukampunga, And Her Beautiful Children

Dear brother Stanislas, sister Mukampunga, and your beautiful six children. You departed in 1994 Rwandan genocide. I remember you always. You are up above among stars. How can I forget you — you two being the eldest in the family. You two were clowns who made me laugh where I was a little boy. You are forever engraved in my memory. I always remember how I often asked you, Stanislas, why you wore a dress like a lady. You would try to explain to me that you were a Jesuit brother. Those were your “normal” cloths — you would tell me laughing and happy as always. You said you had given your life to God. You will tickle me and I would laugh, soon forgetting about your “dress.” You sister Mukampunga was generous. I can never forget that you were the first person to show me and cook for me an egg. And then you were taken away from us.

I have some bad news — dear sister and brother. I had planted eight trees in my Garden in Rwanda to remember your beautiful lives lived — one for each of you and Mukampunga’s six children. Every year when the eight trees blossomed, I would bring some of the branches into my house, symbolizing the celebration of your beautiful lives. I would also leave nice little messages to you under the tree.

Guess what — I had to flee Rwanda in 2010. I moved to South Africa where I again planted eight trees for your beautiful lived lives. More bad news. I had to flee South Africa, too, after a wonderful compatriot named Patrick Karegeya was assassinated there. Now I live in Canada. The eight trees are right here with me. Whenever spring comes and the tree grow leaves again, I feel so much closer to you. It is as if you have returned to me from some other planets.

And so beautiful ones, on this day, we all remember you. No bitterness. We have forgiven those who took you away in 1994. We celebrate your lived lives — no more mourning you dear beloved ones. Spring has brought new life to the beautiful trees that symbolize your lives. Tomorrow is my big day — I will visit you. And I will play a happy song for you on my saxophone for you. To accompany me, I will have in the background a piece of music called “sing a happy song” by the famous American group the O’Jays. “Sing A Happy Song” by the O’Jays goes something like this:

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Sing a happy song, sing a happy song
Why don’t you sing along, sing a happy song?
You don’t have to dance, sing a happy song
Come on, clap your hands, sing a happy song

Music’s good for your soul
It can bring a real good feelin’
Good for the young and old
Brighten up the darkest day, oh

It can be your release
It can supply you with peace
Some peace of mind
Why don’t you

Sing a happy song, sing a happy song?
Come on, sing along, sing a happy song
Why don’t you dance awhile, sing a happy song?
Come on, get involved, sing a happy song

Can’t you feel, feel the beat?
Go ahead and pat your feet and
Let the rhythm take control
Move your body from side to side, oh

If you are feelin’ down
Tune right into the sound
The sound of music
Why don’t you

Sing a happy song, sing a happy song?
Chase all your blues away, sing a happy song
Get on up and dance, sing a happy song
Come on clap your hands, sing a happy song

You know, you can do it, tell ’em all
’Cause it’s easy, so easy to do
All I can do sing it loud and hearty
Well, come on everybody let’s get down and party

Sing a happy song, sing a happy song
Come on, sing along, sing a happy song
Why don’t you dance awhile, sing a happy song?
Come on get involved, sing a happy song

Music, make your life
And make your soul happy
Sing a happy song
Music, music, music, music
Music, music, music, music, happy music

Well, y’all sing a happy song, sing a happy song
Come on, come on, clap your hands, sing a happy song
Sing a happy song, sing a happy song
Come on sing along, sing a happy song

(Sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet music)
Can make you happy, make you so happy
Sing a happy song
Music can make you happy, make you so happy

Much love,

Mwene Byabagamba

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