Jean-Paul Samputu

Jean-Paul Samputu's nightmare began after the Rwandan genocide.

Samputu, a musician, returned from Kenya to his native Rwanda and discovered that several members of his family had been murdered.

They were among the at least 800,000 people killed in the Rwandan Genocide in 1994. Samputu's family members were not murdered because of anything they had done or said, but they were not randomly chosen victims either. They were targeted because they were members of the Tutsi ethnic group.

The deaths of his loved ones were bad enough, but the story got worse when Samputu learned that it was his childhood friend Vincent, a Hutu, who had killed his family.

Caught in a tangle of emotions, he turned to self-destructive behavior. He used drugs and alcohol to dull the pain and hasten the end. “I was waiting to die,” he says.

Years later, in a last-ditch effort to turn his life around, Jean Paul decided to pray for understanding, strength and courage. He believes that made the difference, teaching him the “power of forgiveness.”

“My life came back because I decided to forgive the guy who killed my parents,” says Jean-Paul.

From that moment on, he started using singing voice to educate his audience about love, peace and reconciliation. He sings about both the atrocities of genocide and the intrinsically human need to forgive.

Spreading Hope, in Rwanda and the World Over


First he healed himself, then he started helping others do the same. Musician, singer and peace activist Jean-Paul Samputu continues a quest that started in the aftermath of Rwanda's genocide.

After learning to forgive the man who murdered his father, Samputu realized he wanted to do more. He founded the Mizero Foundation, an organisation that aims to help children who are homeless, orphaned, infected with HIV/Aids, or vulnerable in some other way.

The foundation has created the Mizero Troupe, a group of children who tour outside Rwanda singing and dancing.

The foundation provides children with basic needs and counseling, and promotes forgiveness, unity and peace among young people. The ultimate goal, it says is to ensure future generations remain free from conflict.

For another reflection on post-genocide Rwanda, check out this remarkable story by Ugandan journalist Andrew Mwenda.