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Gakondo means origins or tradition, and on this album, Popo has taken a journey to his Rwandan roots. Three ancient musical expressions intertwine to create the sound of the country of a thousand hills. Long ago, Intwatwa songs of the Batwa people mixed with powerful rhythmic Bahutu soundscapes and Batutsi pastoral melodies to form one dynamic musical tradition. Popo spent many months researching the origins and the intersection of these sounds, working with traditional musicians and learning about the rich poetry of the Royal Court or "Ibwami" and instruments like the Inanga,with its shallow bowl carved out of wood and a single gut string woven back and forth across it, creating nine or more strings. In exploring this musical heritage, Popo turned over all kinds of aesthetic stones and found gems that he suspected were there all along. This album is a true tribute to ancient songs and poems that tell the story of an entire civilization. On the title track "Gakondo," Popo weaves Rwandan poetry, sounds and sensibilities into a song about his lineage from his father and mother all the way up to the first ancestors, and back down to his wife and children. This is an "amateka y'imiryango," or family history, revealing Popo's blood ties to the Abiru, the high priests of ancient Rwanda, andkeepers of the dynastic codes. On "Kamananga," "Impunga," "Impangaza," "Uw'ibuhoro" and "Nibarize," Popo emulates Inanga melodies on his guitar. "Nibarize" is sung in the ancient, now defunct Rwandan whispering style. Popo asks the custodians of Rwandan history to reveal the secrets of their art to him. "Why does the sound of the powerful 'Inanga' still yield to the whisper of the artist?" he asks. With "Urugendo," "Ngire Nte," "Rwatsinda" and "Rwampunga," Popo revisits traditional songs of praise for the achievements of kings along with the timeless themes of love and loss. This is Mighty Popo's first acoustic album and also his first written solely in Kinyarwanda, Rwanda'sonly indigenous language.


  1. Name
  2. Gakondo 3:41
  3. Urugendo 4:03
  4. Kamananga 3:32
  5. Impangaza 4:46
  6. Impunga 6:17
  7. Ngire Nte 6:24
  8. Uw'Ibuhoro 5:22
  9. Rwatsinda 4:05
  10. Nibarize 3:36
  11. Rwampunga 5:09
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