By Erasme Rugemintwaza
The sad news of the death of Jay Polly fell on 2nd September, 2021, in the morning; the young Rwandan music lovers are more than sorrowed on the web. But this death in prison resuscitates the spectre of souls “dead” in Rwandan prisons!
JAY POLLY, whose real name is Joshua Tuyishime, is a 33-year-old rapper who has successfully established himself on the Rwandan music industry for these fifteen years. He is in the same generation with Tom Close, Rafiki, Butera Knowless, King James, Dream Boyz, and so on. But this talented youth, who had really revolutionized Rwandan music towards trendy tunes like Hip Hop, R&B, AfroBeat, was not immune from the Rwandan Evil: the ethnicity. We will always remember the first Primus Guma Guma Super Star (PGGSS) trophy, an advertising campaign by the Brasserie et Limonaderie du Rwanda (Bralirwa), to also promote Rwandan music, which was impartially attributed to Tom Close Tutsi, while it was Jay Polly, a Hutu who really deserved it in many ways. To end this frustrating debate which risked resuscitating old ethnic demons, the second trophy was awarded to him.
Jay Polly almost died in jail because he spent only THIRTY minutes in Muhima Hospital where he was admitted almost dead. So, it was in detention that he breathed his last. A very small reminder is that Jay Polly, had been in detention since April 2021, after being arrested while participating in a party, during the period when parties were prohibited following barrier measures to prevent coronavirus; narcotics are said to be circulating in the said party, but her sister denied, saying it was a trap set for her brother Jay Polly. Let’s just underline that the music industry is also the home of drugs! And this is a secular contamination but more precisely a current American influence, on the world! To be a music star, you have to embody an American idol like Lil Wayne, 50 Cent, Kanye West and even the greats Jay-Z, Robert Kelly always have cigars, liquors in their songs. This idolatry is opium of youth.
The official communication from the Rwandan Correctional Service (RCS) says that Jay Polly consumed drinks made from alcohol for hairdressing mixed with water and sugar.
But the death of Jay Polly resuscitates the spectre of disappearances in custody in Rwandan prisons. We remember the death of the gospel singer Kizito Mihigo, found hanged in his cell at a police station. His death was attributed to suicide. This death has also resuscitated many dead (several hundred) since December 2020 in the overcrowded Muhanga prison where more than 7,000 Hutus accused of genocide are imprisoned. This frightening mortality, according to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), is the consequence not only of diseases due to the small size and bad weather of the detention cells, but also infected wounds, and beatings.
But also it should be remembered that the former office manager of Kagame died in the military prison after being sentenced to 10 in prison for corruption. We cannot forget Kagame’s personal doctor, Emmanuel Gasakure, who was shot dead by police while in detention. And many people shot in the dungeons, with the same allegation of wanting to escape while handcuffed. One might be tempted to say that dying in detention in Kagame’s country has become a general rule; the unscathed release is on the contrary, the exception!
Thus Rwandan prisons are becoming dying places. Before going in prison you have to make a will. The Kagame regime has an interest in reviewing the conditions of detention and human rights in general, if not one day “A drop will be enough to break the camel’s back.”
And Jay Polly, who challenged all the ethnic barriers in Rwandan society to assert himself as a true Rwandan, passed on. On tweeter we read “Our legend is gone”, “You gave us good tunes, through your music”, “Jay Polly is for me the Rwandan 2Pac. It will always be said that it is him who sowed the love of Hip Hop in the Rwandan youth “. His girlfriend Kessy Kayonga said that she can’t believe the sad news, she loses a friend whose image is that man always happy, altruistic, according to her confidences. Me, I believe it, because death is natural, but with sorrow I add: “RIP, JP!”