People, Rwanda, Top News

Corneille: «I was dead with them! » His affecting confession about the massacre of his family.

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The Singer Corneille was the guest of Frédéric Lopez’s program “La parenthèse inatendue” (unexpected bracket), on France 2, February, 27th. A program very appreciated in which stars make declarations.

The singer was 17 years old when he witnessed the murder of his parents and his brothers and sisters in Rwanda.

And he came back on this terrible day. It was in 1994. An armed group entered their family house and started shooting.

Here is the continuation of his narrative: “I jumped behind a sofa, just next to me. They shot at everybody and they ran away. I imagine that they did not have time to check that everybody was dead (…) I came out of my hiding place, and I think that during the hour that followed, I was dead with them; I was not present. The first thing I did, it was to go to my parents’ bathroom to look at me in the mirror. To see that if what I thought of being was true, that is I was alive. I was chilled, I became a block of ice, I felt nothing more, I did not cry, I was in a state of total shock”.

The Rwandan singer Corneille has just brought out his fifth album. An eagerly awaited album by his fans and Africans.

A few days ago Corneille declared: “It has become a media catcher, he analyzes today, and I was not psychologically equipped. I think my story escaped me. I did not yet face the pain.”

Born of a Tutsi father and a Hutu mother, he spent his childhood in Germany, then his adolescence in Rwanda. He was known on Rwandan national television at the age of 16 by winning Discoveries prize 1993 with his first group.

The genocide started in 1994 and nine members of his family were killed in front him, in their house. “It was genocide against the Tutsi, which was undeniable” he was then 17 years old.

He escaped the coming of the FPR, as hundreds of thousand Rwandans to take refuge in Zaire (current RDC Democratic Republic of Congo) before flying towards Germany, where he was accommodated by friends of his parents.

Since then, he never returned to Rwanda. “I was not ready. I associated too many negative things to this country, sometimes in an irrational way. I was angry with it.”

As shown in his song: “The Birth of Cornelius, said without care:

«Last time I saw you

You looked like Apocalypse

Hell and then Genesis combined

Last time I saw you

You were stripping me of anything

And anyone that was mine»

At the age of 36, he hopes to have the same success as in 2003 with his album “Parce que l’on vient de loin” (Because we come from some far place) that he sold up to about a million copies.
Cornelius Nuyngura is married with the Canadian singer and comedian of Portuguese origin Sofia de Medeiros. He lives with her today in Montreal. She writes the texts of his albums and helps him manage an uneven career. His previous two albums, The Birth of Cornelius, an album of break, brought out in 2007, and “Sans titre” (No title) – It is the title of the album brought out in 2009, both had no success. He evoked an incest undergone by his aunt.

African influences are very present in his music. “It is necessary to be attentive to understand his texts, sung with aloud which characterized it. The texts sometimes are dark and often of an innocence curling with naivety. I am said to be dreamy. But my texts are not naive, contested the artist. It is my life; it is my real-life experience. When we passed through difficult times, we can be allowed to be submerged by rancor and we perish. Or hang onto optimism and continue.”

“The ego is this armor we carry; it is this character that we build oneself. It helped me to resist at some point. But it is necessary to recognize it, to see it in order to get rid of it.”

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