The sweet melodies triggered memories, vivid ones. Of rolling hills, the smell of the rain falling on the soil and the crow of roosters at dawn. I longed for a country i had never traveled to, yet nostalgia was forming inside every inch of my body. The cadence of her voice, a throaty whisper followed by a piercing high.
My mom used to rock her ballads every Saturday morning, a voice we had come to recognize as Cecile Kayirebwa. The familiarity with which mom embraced every note she sang led me to believe she knew her. I came to realize this behaviour was not unique to her, every Rwandan woman I grew up around acted the same way.
Decades later, I attend a benefit concert in her honour. The queen is celebrating her 70th birthday, regal as can be. She doesn't look a day over 20, as a young and wide-eyed fan points out to her before busting out in an instrumental rendition of her classic hit "Umunezero". Happiness, the meaning of the song title in kinyarwanda also the current state of my heart.
I let it all sink in. I have found my home in the country of my dreams.