Winners and organisers of Trace Music Awards 2023 capped a wonderful weekend in Kigali with a rendezvous with President Paul Kagame, who promised to do more to support arts and talent on the continent and commended Trace Group for the successful awards ho
Led by Olivier Laouchez, CEO Trace Group and head of the Trace Music Awards, some of the winners recognised during the colourful awards ceremony on Saturday met the Head of State at Urugwiro Village where they held an interactive session before the artistes, led by South African singer and songwriter, Nomcebo Zikode, wished him a happy birthday in advance.
President Kagame congratulated the winners and thanked them for taking time to come to Rwanda to participate in the awards and later meet him when they could be in any other part of the world going on with their work.
“I wanted to congratulate all of you for this and Trace that also has put this together and has made it what it is today, thriving and giving it a sense of purpose for which this has been created,” President Kagame said.
President Kagame told the artistes that they are always welcome in Rwanda, because the country is open to everything good coming from the entire African continent.
“I want to assure you that you have a home here. I know all people who are here have places they call home and that’s really good thing but you can consider this a home away from home,” President Kagame said, adding that when he says that he knows there could be someone who doesn’t have a country to call a home, reflecting on his own story.
“I will tell you my personal experience. I lived 30 years of my life without home. So that taught me the value of having a place you call home and I know it is as meaningful and as important to everyone and anyone elsewhere. “That’s why I’m saying whoever wants to make this a home away from home or a home, you are welcome,” President Kagame said.
He promised the artistes support in whatever they are doing because through their talents they are able to contribute to the society in different ways.
“Your talent, your creativity, having this [event] which becomes a channel of expressions of all different kinds. I think that’s the best gift for any people, for any part of society. The arts, creativity, and the whole organization around it, is giving people a home, from different parts of the world. A home through which they express themselves,” he pointed out.
He added that if people came together and combined efforts, a lot more can be achieved through arts and creativity, commending the organisers of the awards for a job well done.
On his part, Nigerian singer Rema, real name Divine Ikubor said that President Kagame is the first Head of State he has even met despite his stardom that has taken him across the world.
“This is the first President I have ever met in my life,” he said, adding “I’ve not even met my own President.”
“He is not just a president, he is a father. You know, you care about the youth, you care about the arts. I feel so comfortable when I come to Rwanda,” said Rema, whose smash hit ‘Calm down’ emerged song of the year at the awards held at the BK Arena on Saturday.
Rema, who last performed in Rwanda in November 2021, said that he has been shown so much support in Rwanda, pointing out that today when he feels like he wants to travel somewhere to relax, he easily choses Rwanda over any other country because he feels comfortable and at home.
“It gives me a vibe, I do rest and feel at home without having to travel to places,” Rema said.
Fast rising Rwandan singer, Emerance Bwiza, who was overcome by emotions after meeting President Kagame, promised to do more to make her country proud. The 24-year-old singer performed at the awards on Saturday.
After singing her hit song ‘Jerusalema’, Nomcebo led others into wishing President Kagame a happy birthday as he turns 66 today October 23, 2023.
Global music powerhouse and Afro-music tastemaker, Trace staged the first ever Trace Awards to mark its 20th anniversary, and celebrate the creativity, talent and influence of African and Afro-inspired music and artists. The Awards showcased the excellence and diversity of Afro-centric music in genres such as Afrobeat, Dancehall, Hip Hop, Afro-pop, Mbalax, Amapiano, Zouk, Kizomba, Genge, Coupé Décalé, Bongo Flava, Soukous, Gospel, Rap, Rai, Kompa, R&B, and Rumba.
Targeted at lovers of African and Afro-inspired music and culture, the Trace Awards broadcasted live on 21 October 2023 on Trace TV channels, radio and digital channels and on global streaming platforms, national terrestrial TV and satellite channels. A 90 minutes highlights show will air on Trace channels and partner TV stations and platforms from 28 October.