The desire to support the ideas of reconciliation and friendliness - these are the guiding principles of the founder of Mizero. He hopes to bring healing, hope and reconciliation to a generation of Rwandans.
Mizero is an organization meaning hope in native Kinyarwandan and was established in 2007 by award winning musician and peace activist Jean Paul Samputu, in order to provide a supportive community for hundreds of children orphaned by the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. During the mere of 100 days of this brutal, systematic terrifying massacre carried out not only by the military and militia groups, but horrifyingly by civilians, neighbors and local community members - it `s estimated that up to 1,000,000 people were killed between 250,000 and 500,000 women were raped and upwards 615,000 children orphaned. Mizero was founded in order to help these children - to provide a place for them in the world and to promote healing and empowerment through the use and celebration traditional Rwandan music and dances.
Samputu is one of two members of his family who survived cruelty of war tearing his country apart. At the time of the genocide in Rwanda, Samputu was in Uganda, trying to reach his relatives without success. Although after the massacre in the summer of 1994 he tried to start a new life abroad, anger and grief, as he says, were destroying him from within. He started to abuse drugs and alcohol. He even tried to commit a suicide. Finally he found hope in the Bible and the conviction that forgiveness can heal him and his entire wounded society. He even arranged a meeting with people who murdered his family and was reconciled with them. In 2007 Samputu set up the Mizero Children of Rwanda Foundation, propagating the idea of his mission and his message of forgiveness among young Rwandans.
In this way, Mizero provides shelter, food and education children, in addition to organizing daily rehearsals in traditional performances. As cultural ambassadors, the group aims to spread the traditions of Rwanda to others through their performances. Known as the land of thousand hills, Rwanda is a beautiful country of fertile lands, lakes and rolling hills. In traditional Rwandan culture, it is customary for family members to gather together in the evening to dance, sing and talk about the events of the day - this is called igitaramo. Other popular dances are the intore, or elite, which are war dances performed by highly skilled dancers chosen for their physical dexterity, elegance and moral qualities; and the ikmirnbn, one of the most celebrated traditional dances, which is symbolic of strength and stamina and is performed to celebrate the harvest. Celebrating their culture through the performance of these dances, the children of Mizero have travelled not only m Rwanda but also as far as the USA, Canada and Poland in 2010. During this vear's edition ot Brave Festival they will promote their message of hope, peace and healing through music and dance for the second time.