Mushabizi

Nyamiyaga i Nyanza, Amajyepfo

MushabiziMu buhanga bwe Mushabizi Mariya Yohana Viyane twaganiriye akirigita inanga nako ayiguyaguya dore ko itamuvuye ku bibero. Nuko atera yivuga ati…
– Ndi Mushabizi wa Sembeba ya Sagatwa ka …
– Wavutse ryari?
– Mu 1941.
– Numva bavuga ko inanga ari cyo gicurangisho gakondo cy’imirya ariko nzi ko iri no mu bindi bihugu. Wambwira ku mvo n’imvano yayo?
– Mu byukuri nabyirutse numva abakuru bavuga ko inanga yavuye i Burundi. Wenda nuko bari abaturanyi nabo batarama ibwami… sinzi neza uko yaje ariko yaje ituruka i Burundi. Nuko abanyarwanda barayiga byinjira mu muco w’abanyarwanda.
– Niyo mpamvu abarundi ari abahanga mu gucuranga inanga se?
– Cyane. Abarundi barakaze. Nabo bacurangisha imirya umunani.
– Nsobanurira ku miterere y’inanga. Igiti muhitamo, ubwoko bwacyo, imirya, mbese nk’umujene w’i Kigali utazi ibyo ari byo.
– Inanga ibaje mu giti cyitwa Umwungo. Ni igiti kiba mu mashyamba nka za Nyungwe.
– Kuki ari cyo giti bahisemo?
Arayikomanga.
– Nuko ari cyo gisohora ijwi cyane.
– Eh eh ukuntu ibaje se! Ni ubuhanga buhanitse. Babarisha iki kugira ngo binjire muri izi nguni?
– Imbazo za kera.
– Uzi kuyibaza se?
– Oya ariko nzi umugabo uzibaza i Butare.
– Iyi mirya se yo?
– Iyi mirya ubona ni iyo twagiye twihimbira mu ndondo z’umweru zikoreshwa ku nkweto.
– Ukoresha nka metero zingahe?
– Sinzi ariko hari igihe nkoresha ibidongi bibiri. Kera rero bakoreshaga ibyo bitaga ibyaziha. Ibyaziha byavaga ku nka ishaje. Bakabaga noneho za nyama zisa nk’iziri mu mugongo akaba ari zo bafatamo ibipande bibiri bagakata uduce duto hanyuma bakagenda bashyira hamwe bakaragira kw’ivi.
– Bigafatana bikavamo umurya muremure?
– Yee. Ubwo nyuma bakumisha ku muriro.
– Mu rwego rw’amajwi se ni uwuhe murya uvuga neza se hagati yayo moko abiri?
– Uwo wa kera ni wo unihira neza. Uravuga cyane!
– None kuki mutakiwukoresha?
– Ni he wabona inka ishaje? Ubu abantu ko babaga inyana! Kera ko abantu batungaga inka ikarinda isazira mu rugo bakabona kubaga. Uretse ko hari n’indi mpamvu. Reka nyikubwire. Impamvu ni uko iyo inanga yanyagirwaga, uwo murya waratumbaga ugaturika. Ukanika ukongera ugateranya ariko buriya umurya urimo ipfundo uba wataye ijwi. Na none watereka inanga ahantu imbeba zikaza zishaka ka kanyama zikarya wa murya.
– Mbwira ku bijyanye n’amanota y’iyi mirya.
– Iyi mirya, irimo ibyiciro bitatu. Hari imiyuki ibiri, hakaza igituza kigizwe n’imirya ibiri yo hagati, hagakurikiraho inyikirizo n’ibihumurizo. Inanga itanga amajwi umunani.
– Iyo mirya ibiri yindi se mbona?
– Uyu uhera ni uwo gukwega ushyira kw’inota ryaba iryo hejuru cyangwa iryo hasi. Uyu wundi wo ni ukwanga ko inanga yambara ubusa.
– Inanga ucuranga ni izo wihimbira ubwawe?
– Yeee.
– Ku buryo umuntu atumvamo inanga z’abandi zacuranzwe mbere?
– Reka reka! Mpimba izanjye.
– Iyo uheruka guhimba ni iyihe?
– Hari Zaninka, hari Mukase w’abana, hari… ese ko ari nyinshi?
– Mbese nk’ubu ushobora gucuranga amasaha angahe? Tuvuge nk’ubu utangiye saa moya z’ijoro wageza ryari?
– Nageza mu gitongo ncuranga kandi ntasubiramo inanga nacuranze mbere.
– Ubwo ni nk’indirimbo zingahe?
– Mirongo itandatu cyangwa mirongo inani.
– Mu rwego rwo kurushanwa abaguteraga ubwoba harimo ba nde?
– Jyewe bantera ubwoba? Ahubwo ni bo bantinyaga.
– Abo ni nka bande?
– Mbere hari ba Sebatunzi, ba Sentore… Sentore twarushanyijwe mu rukari ndamurusha. Hari ba Rwishyura, ba Kirusu Thomas… abo bose narabarushaga. Erega abenshi ntibacuranga inanga zirenze eshanu. Barazikwedura.
– None se ko utamamaye nkabo?
– Uretse ko ntagiye hanze y’igihugu ariko mu Rwanda baranzi.
– Izina ryawe narimenye ari uko mpuye na Munyakazi Deo.
– Nyamara ndazwi.
– Wasanga nzi ibihangano umuhanzi ntamuzi.
– Byashoboka. Radiyo Rwanda ko ibifite se ku bwinshi.
– Inanga itajya imva mu mutwe ni ya yindi itangira ikinamico igenda itya tara-taratata-tarata-taratata!
– Ni jye wayicuranze! Mu kinamico harimo inanga eshatu. Ebyiri ni izanjye.
– Curanga numve…
Ahita ayicuranga
– Iyooooooooo!!! Ni iyooooo!!! Muzehe ufite ibifaranga rero uragura!
– Ayahe se?
– None se imyaka yose bacuranze indirimbo zawe ntibakwishyuye?
– Shaa uretse uwampaye uduhumbi cumi na dutanu mu 1972, hari ikindi?
– Nta masezerano mwasinyanye?
– Ntayo. Leta y’icyo gihe yari yaradusezeranyije ko azaduhemba. Yari na menshi. Igenda itayaduhaye.
– Iy’ubu se?
– Iy’ubu itwumvisha ko kudushyira kuri radiyo ari ukutwamamaza. Baratubeshya-beshya. Rimwe narahagurutse ndababaza nti kuva muri mirongo irindwi na kabiri mwaba munyamamaza? Koko? Yewe hari n’igihe bampamagara ngo nze ntange indirimbo, nkazibaha ntibampe n’itike.
– Ese ubundi ni iki cyemeza ko ari izawe uretse kumenya kuzicuranga?
– Nazandikishije muri RDB.
– Eh! Ndakwemeye. Ryari?
– Hashize nk’imyaka itatu.
– Ujya mu bitaramo se nibura gucuranga?
– Yee
– Aho wacuranze hakomeye ni he?
– Muri Selina…
– Selina ni ibiki?
– Hariya i Kigali…
– Muri Serena?
– Yeee.
– Wavuga ko uyu mwuga wagutunze?
– Ni gake. Ntunzwe no guhinga. Ndahinga.
– Jya numva ngo wigisha gucuranga. Abo wigisha bo ntibakwishyura?
– Keretse nkiri i Kigali nibwo nishyuzaga ariko unsanze aha iwanjye ndamwigisha rwose nta kibazo. Hari ugira atya akampfumbatisha nk’uduhumbi cumi cyangwa makumyabiri gutyo.
– Umuntu yamenya inanga nko mu gihe kingana iki?
– Biterwa n’uko umuntu afata.
– Uwaguha ishuri se akaguha amasaha mu cyumweru yo kwigisha wabishobora?
– Yee. Maze kwigisha benshi erega.
– Nka ba nde?
– Hari Ayirwanda Godofiridi, uwo ni umusaza nigishije nkiri umwana. Hari Uzayisenga Sophia, Ngarukiye Danieyri, Munyakazi Deo, hari abasore babiri i Nyanza, abandi i Kigali… ni benshi bagera nko kuri makumyabiri.
– Iyo ubumvise bacuranga wumva umeze ute?
– Ndanezerwa cyane. Jya mbumva kuri radiyo mu biganiro bavuga bati “Twigishijwe na Mushabizi…” ni ishema.
– Muzehe reka nkubwire rero. Buriya kuva ndi umwana, ndi mu mahanga rwose, iyo numvaga inanga yawe, nahitaga nicara hafi ya radiyo nzi ko hagiyemo ikinamico. N’ubu iyo ngiye gukora indirimbo irimo inanga ingero ntanga ni izawe. Warakoze rwose. Ndaza kukubariza muri RDB aho bigeze byo guhemba abahanzi ku bihangano bahaye amaradiyo. Mperuka bavuga ko guhera iya 1 Nyakanga 2017 bizashyirwa mu bikorwa.
– Uzaba ukoze.
– Hakoze wowe.

– Hari ibyo twita Freestyle. Muri make ni nk’ukuntu umuhanzi yumva yizihiwe agakora mu nganzo. Tugerageze?

– Nta kibazo rwose

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Des Espoirs d’un Cynique – Review on Mellow views

Posted on November 21, 2016 by Mutsinzi for Mellowviews

Eric Mutsinzi’s passion and writing skill is not only rare to find these hills but I don’t know any other 19 year-old young with such abilities. When I invited him at the live stream launch of my last single of the year, I did not expect this. I can only be grateful and hope his quill grows wings. You rock, mazina 😉

We listen intently, as Eric’s recorded voice asks an important philosophical question in the form of a seemingly bleak stream of verses about human nature.”

“The last verse is powerfully politically charged. It mocks the inhumane or perhaps very human hypocrisy of nations that have a history of suffering and yet have become the reason some parts of the world are currently in peril. It is a reminder of our forgetfulness. A reminder of the oblivion to past suffering, birthed by prosperity and satisfaction.” ~ Eric Mutsinzi

Read More…

Lyrics – English Translation

Title : Hopes(lessness) of a cynic
Artist : 1key
Single
2016

Verse 1:
My year of birth is the moment of truth
My pen morphs into a lighter, my ink into fuel
My words dance in flames but catch no fire
I speak loud what you wish you could shout
You who retweets me when I share rubbish on my timeline
You understand that every time I rhyme, I free my mind
From this collective fear that has become a lifestyle
I’m cleaning out my closet at a high speed
As if I had a date with my skeleton before I turn 46
Premonition of my funeral or simply paranoia?
The gift and the curse of the artist is his third eye
I sink into cynicism while my poetry shines

Hook:
Give me a pen and a page, a mic and a stage
So I can share all this rage
Just give me four minutes and a small crowd
So I can tell you all about
“Des espoirs d’un cynique”
Hope(lessness) of a cynic

Verse 2:
Apparently I’m looking for the sympathy of Whites
“Eric, pity doesn’t sell” a friend said online
When I blew the whistle about the hypocrisy
Of my brothers who think that changing a country’s narrative is a literary work
Ask those who live in the shadow of the rich, “Where do the latter shit?”
I mean those who make cheese from cooking stats
If their achievements are so flawless, why do they lie?
Huge gap between Public Relations and relationship with the public
The minister of labor raises her middle finger
To an unemployed youth roaming with job application letters
Flagrant inequality between the people and the land lords
The minority drinks champagne under a bling bling dome
The majority shrinks in silence, hunger is at their door
Nzaramba
I hide behind screens to write these lines
I’m a just coward and I’m so tired
My words and my actions collide

Hook:
Give me a pen and a page, a mic and a stage
So I can share all this rage
Just give me four minutes and a small crowd
So I can tell you all about
“Des espoirs d’un cynique”
Hope(lessness) of a cynic

Verse 3
I am tired of the colonizer’s speech preaching democracy
Ask the natives what they think of Christopher Columbus or his peers’ aristocracy
Ask the Nama and Herero why their genocide isn’t so popular
Or ask the perpetrators
Ask the sons of Gaza what they think of the Star of David?
Ask the daughters of Haiti what they think of the Red Cross’ opportunists
I’m simply tired of our collective hypocrisy
I’ll heal from my cynicism when I find remedies to Africa
Meanwhile I remain a pain in the ass of those suffering from selective amnesia
Coz if I had to talk restitution, Belgium would sink into an infinite deficit
And if I talked about justice, France would be forever guilty
For its involvement in conflicts from the delta to the sources of the Nile
And so would be the United States for crimes against humanity and terrorism worldwide
From east to its west coasts through its cities, my continent is falling apart while
The west and China argue on who takes how much oild and gold
This poem is not an SOS, it’s a bug in this Babylon
I rise from the mass before I get crushed by the weight of life
I raise my voice beyond the hills with my rhymes
But who will… Verse 3
I am tired of the colonizer’s speech preaching democracy
Ask the natives what they think of Christopher Columbus or his peers’ aristocracy
Ask the Nama and Herero why their genocide isn’t so popular
Or ask the perpetrators
Ask the sons of Gaza what they think of the Star of David?
Ask the daughters of Haiti what they think of the Red Cross’ opportunists
I’m simply tired of our collective hypocrisy
I’ll heal from my cynicism when I find remedies to Africa
Meanwhile I remain a pain in the ass of those suffering from selective amnesia
Coz if I had to talk restitution, Belgium would sink into an infinite deficit
And if I talked about justice, France would be forever guilty
For its involvement in conflicts from the delta to the sources of the Nile
And so would be the United States for crimes against humanity and terrorism worldwide
From east to its west coasts through its cities, my continent is falling apart while
The west and China argue on who takes how much oild and gold
This poem is not an SOS, it’s a bug in this Babylon
I rise from the mass before I get crushed by the weight of life
I raise my voice beyond the hills with my rhymes
But who will…

Hook:
Give me a pen and a page, a mic and a stage
So I can share all this rage
Who will give me just four minutes and a small crowd
So I can tell you all about
“Des espoirs d’un cynique”
Hope(lessness) of a cynic

#1key

Entre 2 album review: Universoul

Track 10: Universoul ft. Abaasa

Universoul is the ultimate track on the album. The collabo features Abaasa, a Ugandan music producer and (predominantly gospel) singer who lives in the UK. The artists connected on Twitter and began a conversation which progressed to Skype. Abaasa created the beats for the track and recorded his vocals for the chorus, which projects an uplifting, feel-good mood:

“I’m more than what you see

I’m free like the air you breathe

Je suis imparable, je suis untouchable, universoul

I’m untouchable like a dream

Unsolvable like a mystery

I’m untouchable, I’m unstoppable, universoul

Universoul…”

Abaasa emailed the demo to 1Key, who remembers escaping a noisy bar to listen to it. He told me: “It has an 80’s feel. I was born in ‘81. It was exactly what I needed!” 1key laid his vocals in French, at Yego Studio in Kampala. The contrast between 1Key’s French verses – which are rapped poetically and with purpose – and the English chorus, with its cheerful, sing-a-long quality, creates a beautifully original mood. Abaasa returned to Uganda for the Christmas holidays and the two artists met in person for the first time. They finalised their song, which was mastered by Ugandan music producer Nelson.

Entre 2 is a coming-of-age album. As we progress through the tracks, 1Key explores the twisted roots of his heritage, in search of a meaningful identity. In Universoul, 1Key makes peace with his life history, carving pride and meaning out of shame and isolation. He proclaims:

“My birth, a result of accidental conception

 Is a beautiful error just like the creation of penicillin

Such a dreamer, I aspire to make a contribution to this life

As valid as that of Fleming in medicine

When I was a kid, I wanted to become a doctor

Today my poetry heals hearts.’”(Translated from French to English)

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Courtesy of Eric 1Key

Among the ambiguities of 1Key’s life, what becomes clear is the poet’s sense of self. 1Key has transitioned from “identity crisis” to a position of artistic certainty.

1Key is half-Rwandan and half-Congolese. He has lived in the DRC, the Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda. As a multi-lingual artist and conscious citizen of the world – who accesses online space and engages with current global debates – 1Key is at once Rwandan, African, and in his own words: “Universoul”. He tells us:

 

“I am a delta between multiple rivers

Lots of cultures coexist in my system

I come from nowhere and everywhere at the same time

 I am a mixture of everything, neither homogenous nor heterogeneous

Human. That is the signature of my genes.” (Translated from French to English)

 

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Courtesy of Hope Azeda

This emphasis on a united Humanity, where entwined linguistic and cultural influences exist in harmony, is reflective of the hopes of many Kigalians today. In 2015, I witnessed the birth of Rwanda’s Ubumuntu Arts Festival, which brings different artists from around the world to Kigali. The festival is the brainchild of Hope Azeda, the founder and Artistic Director of Mashirika Performing Arts and Media Company.  Hope and I discussed what it means to be Rwandan today. She told me:

 

“So this is the Rwandan thing! We know that we speak different languages, and that we are a diverse culture, and the audience connects to that a lot. I think our differences make us strong. It has become very musical!” (Hope Azeda, 22 July 2015)

Ubumuntu means “being human”, and the festival responds to issues on a national and regional, but also global scale. Hope told me:

“It’s about restoring humanity in a world where humanity is facing extinction… it is a subject that is faceless. It’s not white, it’s not black… it has no religion, you know? Or it’s a mirror for every religion. So for me that’s why people love it. Humanity is a universal gift, but we abuse it…” (Hope Azeda, 22 July 2015)

While it true that 1Key is interested in politics, he makes it clear that he is not a politician. Despite embracing his Rwandan cultural identity, 1Key told me: “nationalities are over-rated! They are the cause of wars…” He raps:

“I am liberal and my world is not a third party

 I am far away from your imaginary boundaries that create real enemies

Away from your “united nations” to exploit the vulnerable ones and racial divisions of your “united states”…” (Translated from French to English)

In the words of 1Key himself:

1Key

1World

1Love

Let us continue to spread the word…

Entre 2 is available on Soundcloud – Entre2 and for sale on digital stores iTunesSpotify, and Amazon.

Eric 1key is very active on social media where you can find him discussing and debating all kinds of things. For updates and live info, follow Eric1key on Twitter: @eric1key, Facebook: Facebook/eric1key, Soundcloud: soundcloud.com/eric1key or email for bookings at ericonekey@gmail.com

_______

Song lyrics and translations

Universoul ft. Abaasa [Track 10 on Entre 2 album] 

Prod. Abaasa (UK), mastered by Nelson (Uganda). Vocals: Yego Studio (Kampala); French, English.

[Verse 1: Eric 1key] [Verse 1: Eric 1key]
Je suis brillant de nature I am brilliant by nature
C’est pas le talent dans l’écriture It’s not the writing skills
Les phares, les voitures The headlights, the cars
Les projecteurs des stades The stadium beams
Le bling bling ou le swag, qui font de moi une star The bling bling or the swag, that make me a star
Je suis né à la belle étoile I was born under the stars
A l’aurore du dernier jour d’Avril At the aurora of the last day of April
A l’aube du premier jour de Mai And the dawn of the first day of May
A la fin de la saison de pluies, mais crois pas que je suis né de la dernière At the end of the rainy season, but don’t you think that I was born yesterday
Je suis un delta entre plusieurs rivières lointaines I am a delta between multiple distant rivers
Plein de cultures cohabitent dans mon système Lots of cultures coexist in my system
Je viens de nulle part, en même temps de partout I come from nowhere and everywhere at the same time
Je suis un mélange de tout, ni homogène ni hétérogène I am a mixture of everything, neither homogenous nor heterogeneous
Humain avant tout, c’est la signature de mes genes Human. That is the signature of my genes
Des fois j’ai l’impression que mon existence est une conspiration universelle Sometimes I have a feeling my life was conspired by the universe
Car ma naissance suite à une conception accidentelle My birth, a result of accidental conception
Est une belle erreur comme la création de la pénicilline Is a beautiful error just like the creation of penicillin
Reveur, j’aspire à faire une contribution dans cette vie Such a dreamer, I aspire to make a contribution to this life
Aussi valide que celle de Fleming en médecine As valid as that of Fleming in medicine
Quand j’étais petit, je voulais devenir docteur When I was a kid, I wanted to become a doctor
Aujourd’hui ma poésie soigne les coeurs Today my poetry heals hearts
Si tu veux savoir qui je suis, tu me trouveras If you want to know who I am, you will find me
Parmi ceux qui croient que le hasard fait bien des miracles Among those who believe that everything happens for a reason, however random
[Chorus: Abaasa] [Chorus: Abaasa]
I’m more than what you see I’m more than what you see
I’m free like the air you breathe I’m free like the air you breathe
Je suis imparable, je suis untouchable, universoul I’m unstoppable, I’m untouchable, universoul
I’m untouchable like a dream I’m untouchable like a dream
Unsolvable like a mystery Unsolvable like a mystery
I’m untouchable, I’m unstoppable, universoul I’m untouchable, I’m unstoppable, universoul, universoul, universoul
Universoul… Universoul…
[Verse 2: Eric 1key] [Verse 2: Eric 1key]
J’ai pas le front patriotique, ni le derrière merdique des politiques I do not push patriotism upfront like dirty ass politicians
Mes organes n’ont votre sens du sacrifice My organs do not have your sense of sacrifice
J’ai l’syndrome John Q, je ne donnerai mon coeur qu’à mon fils I have John Q syndrome, I would only give my heart to my son
J’veux pas d’édifice à mon effigie quand je serai parti I do not want structures in my effigy when I am gone
Je veux pas qu’on me traite de héros, nombreux sont morts pour des faux idéaux I do not want to be treated as a hero, many died for false ideals
Je paris qu’ils se retournent au fond de leurs tombes quand ils observent ce qu’on a fait de ce monde I bet they roll over in their graves when they see what we have done to this world
Je suis pas international, je crois pas aux frontières I am not international, I think not at the borders
Je suis plutôt libéral et mon monde n’est pas un tiers I am liberal and my world is not a third party
Loin de vos limites imaginaires qui créent des réels ennemis I am far away from your imaginary boundaries that create real enemies
Loin de vos nations unies pour exploiter les plus démunis et des divisions raciales de vos états unis Je m’évade à travers les couloirs de la vie Away from your “united nations” to exploit the vulnerable ones and racial divisions of your “united states” I escaped through the corridors of your life
Mon âme slalome vers mon étoile, viens si t’as envie, mon univers est infini My soul roams towards my star, join if you want, my universe is infinite
Mon hymne est un freestyle au rythme de mon coeur My anthem is a freestyle on the rhythm of my heartbeat
Mon drapeau tout comme ma peau n’a pas de couleur My flag, just like my skin, is colourless
Je suis fait d’eau, de terre, d’air mais aussi de lueur I am made of water, earth, air but also light
C’est pourquoi tout comme ces astres au milieu Des ruines et des désastres je brille de mille feux That is why just like celestial bodies, in the middle of ruins and disasters, I shine bright
[Chorus: Abaasa] [Chorus: Abaasa]
I’m more than what you see I’m more than what you see
I’m free like the air you breathe I’m free like the air you breathe
Je suis imparable, je suis untouchable, universoul I’m unstoppable, I’m untouchable, universoul
I’m untouchable like a dream I’m untouchable like a dream
Unsolvable like a mystery Unsolvable like a mystery
I’m untouchable, I’m unstoppable, universoul I’m untouchable, I’m unstoppable, universoul, universoul, universoul
Universoul… Universoul…
[Outro: Eric 1key] [Outro: Eric 1key]
Je suis apatride pas métis I am stateless not half-caste
Mon esprit ski entre les galaxies My spirit skis between galaxies

Entre 2 album review: Gêne-Aise

Track 9: Gêne-Aise ft. Cassa & Samy Kamanzi  

Powerful poetry is born out of pain. Enveloping us, it demands our full attention; creating a ripple of silence, our minds become consumed by the words. Our bodies are effected too: goose bumps on our arms, a lump in our throat, or a knot in our stomach. Perhaps a tear down our face. This is what I experienced when I watched 1Key perform Gêne Aise live for the first time on the #expericment. I understood how much this meant to my friend, and there was no way to escape his pain. And yet the pain was lightened by the pleasure of this shared experience. Through his music, 1Key brought us all together: an audience of friends and strangers, from Francophone Rwandans to Anglophone North Americans, to me, the emotional British anthropologist on my final evening of fieldwork!

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Kigali, Rwanda. 2016. 1Key performing Gêne Aise live on the #expericment. [Courtesty of Innovation Village]

Gêne-Aise is 1Key’s most intimate piece. It tells his life story, a story which is shared by many Rwandans, but is not often talked about openly. The track is a collabo between Cassa (or Dady Cassanova) – a Rwandan who lives in Canada – and Samy Kamanzi, who, like 1Key, is half-Rwandan and half-Congolese – and who was living in France at the time. Once again, new digital technologies triumph in their capacity for enabling musical collaboration!

The initial idea for Gêne Aise was developed by the three artists, through the circulating of voice notes using WhatsApp. Samy produced the music for the track and emailed it to 1Key. 1Key took the track to Dustville Studio in Kampala, where he added some beats using Logic Pro. He layered in his vocals and emailed his progress to Samy and Cassa, who continued the process, and so it went on. According to 1Key, it was a complicated endeavour, due to the three artists all using different, incompatible recording software.  When listening to the beautifully haunting harmonies in the Hayaya yoyoooo sections, it is difficult to imagine these challenges.

The opening section of Gêne Aise switches back and forth between Cassa and 1Key, and between English, French and Kiswahili. The tone is set instantly when Cassa sings:

“I’ve been holding on for too long

I’m gonna let it all go through this song.”

Indeed, 1Key tells us:

“Tonight there will be no metaphors in my verses

I’m stepping out of my comfort zone to talk to you with an open heart.” (Translated from French to English)

Later, in his verse, 1Key tells us:

“I was born in exile in my father’s country… /

… When my grandfather’s neighbours were slaughtering his brothers

He found asylum in this land which belonged to his forefathers before

It is complicated but basically I was born between the anvil and the hammer

In this region of the Great Lakes known for the blood that flows

Between two large countries, one known for genocide and its bravery

The other for its size, its riches and its endless wars…” (Translated from French to English)

Here, 1Key is explaining his complicated family history. Son of a Rwandan (Tutsi) mother and a Congolese father – who he has had limited contact with – 1Key was born in Goma, eastern DRC – which used to be a part of Rwanda. 1Key told me: “I have always felt more Rwandese. Rwanda is the family and the traditions I know.” 1Key and his family were living in the DRC as refugees; lines 2-3 of the above extract refer to the 1959 massacres in Rwanda, which led to vast numbers of Tutsis fleeing Rwanda to seek refuge in neighbouring countries.

Rwanda on the map

On the map: Kigali-Rwanda; Goma-DR Congo; Kampala-Uganda. Source: World Sites Atlas (2016)

In the album’s second track (Mal Appris), we learned that 1Key was exposed to poverty, hunger and disease, while growing up in Goma. This track reveals how 1Key also “received the treatment of the cockroach” – cockroach being the derogatory term used to describe Tutsis in the de-humanizing campaign, which contributed to the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda. (Translated from French to English) As 1Key’s narrative continues to unfold, the rapper softly tells us how he went on to spend time in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo, and then Kinshasa, DRC, before he finally “landed in the arms of Rwanda.” (Translated from French to English) 1Key tells us that, while it feels good to be accepted in Rwanda:

“…it’s heavy to bear

The weight of knowing that I can no longer put my feet

On the land which has seen me rise because the volcano has erased it.” (Translated from French to English)

This is in reference to the 1997 volcano lava flow disaster in Goma, which destroyed his childhood home.

Gêne-Aise is wordplay: apart, the two words translate as “discomfort” (Gêne) and “ease” (Aise), while together they become like Genesis. Indeed, 1Key’s personal creation story is defined by such dichotomies, as he attempts to understand the twisted roots of his life history. This is a story of rejection and suffering, of poverty and abuse, of war and peace, and of loss and pain. At the same time, this is a story of perseverance and strength, and of rediscovery. Towards the end of the song, Cassa sings:

“Strong like a stone, I keep rolling on (on and on and on).”

Meanwhile, 1Key makes reference to rappers who continue to inspire his art, namely: Soprano, Kery James and Tumi Molekane. Like them, 1Key’s poetry is “real” and sometimes sad. In the words of 1Key:

“Tumi said to me “It kills you and heals you at the same time”…” (Translated from French to English)

Entre 2 is available on Soundcloud – Entre2 and for sale on digital stores iTunesSpotify, and Amazon.
Eric 1key is very active on social media where you can find him discussing and debating all kinds of things. For updates and live info, follow Eric1key on Twitter: @eric1key, Facebook: Facebook/eric1key, Soundcloud: soundcloud.com/eric1key or email for bookings at ericonekey@gmail.com

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Song lyrics and translations

Gene Aise ft. Cassa & Samy Kamanzi [Track 9 on Entre 2 album] 

Prod. Samy Kamanzi (France), in collaboration with Dustville Studio (Kampala) and Cassa (Canada); English, French, Kiswahili

Cassa: I’ve been holding in for too long Cassa: I’ve been holding in for too long
I’m gonna let it all go through this song I’m gonna let it all go through this song
1key: S’il y a du silence entre mes fous rires 1key: If there is silence between my laughter
De l’absence de joie dans mon sourire An absence of joy in my smile
C’est parce que mon historie est inédite That is because my story remains untold
Samy: Usiku na mchana najificha Samy: I hide myself day and night
Mambo mengi siwezi sema There is so much I cannot say
Ukiona nacheka usizani ni furaha If you see me laughing don’t assume I’m happy
1key: Ce soir il y aura pas de métaphore dans mes vers 1key: Tonight there will be no metaphors in my verses
Je sors de ma zone de confort vous parler à coeur ouvert I’m stepping out of my comfort zone to talk to you with an open heart
Hayaya yoyoooo Hayaya yoyoooo
[Verse 1: 1Key] [Verse 1: 1Key] 
Je suis comme tout artiste, mon art vient d’un vide I’m just like any artist; my art comes from an empty place
Mon gouffre de je le remplis de vers de poésie I fill my void with glasses/verses of poetry
Ivre de melancolie, comme soprano j’en deviens accro aussi Drunk on melancholy, I get addicted to it like Soprano
Oui je pratique un art triste, réel comme Kery Yes I practice a sad art, real as Kery
Tumi m’a dit “Il te tue et à la fois te guérit” Tumi said to me “It kills you and heals you at the same time”
Voici donc une session de thérapie pour le meilleur et le pire Here, therefore, is a therapy session for the best and for the worst
Je suis né à l’exil au pays de mon père I was born in exile in my father’s country
Une partie de moi a hérité la terre de l’autre du même master A part of me inherited the land of the other from the same master
Quand les voisins de mon grand-père égorgeaient ses frères  When my grandfather’s neighbours were slaughtering his brothers
Il s’est réfugié sur cette terre qui appartenait aux siens plus tôt He found asylum in this land which belonged to his forefathers
C’est compliqué mais bref je suis né entre l’enclume et le marteau It is complicated but, basically I was born between the anvil and the hammer
Dans cette région de grands lacs connus pour le sang qui y coule In this region of the Great Lakes known for the blood that flows
Entre deux grand pays, un connu pour son génocide et sa bravoure Between two great countries, one known for its genocide and its bravery
L’autre pour sa taille, ses richesses et ses guerres interminables The other for its size, its riches and its endless wars
Les deux se haïssent, certainement pour des raisons minables The two hate each other, certainly for minor reasons
Cassa: I’ve been holding in for too long Cassa: I’ve been holding in for too long
I’m gonna let it all go through this song I’m gonna let it all go through this song
1key: S’il y a du silence entre mes fous rires 1key: If there is silence between my laughter
De l’absence de joie dans mon sourire An absence of joy in my smile
C’est parce que mon historie est inédite That is because my story remains untold
Samy: Usiku na mchana najificha Samy: I hide myself day and night
Mambo mengi siwezi sema There is so much I cannot say
Ukiona nacheka usizani ni furaha If you see me laughing don’t assume I’m happy
Hayaya yoyoooo Hayaya yoyoooo
[Verse 2: 1key] [Verse 2: 1key]
J’ai vu le jour entre la haine et l’amour I was born between hate and love
Derrière cette petite maison enduite de crépi rouge Behind this small house coated with red plaster
En 92, moins de 12 ans deja In ‘92, before I was 12 years old
Je subissais le traitement du cafard I received the treatment of the cockroach
A cette école de planches près de l’aéroport de Goma At this school of planks near Goma’s airport
Rejeté du Kivu, 3 ans à Brazza Rejected from Kivu, 3 years in Brazzaville
De kin, j’ai atterri dans les bras du Rwanda From Kinshasa I landed in the arms of Rwanda
Ses collines m’ont accueilli avec du lait caillé Its hills welcomed me with yoghurt
Des sourires jusqu’aux oreilles et Nkundamahoro comme cahier Big smiles and Nkundamahoro as note books[1]
Je dois l’dire, ça soulage de se sentir accepté I have to say it feels good to be accepted
Mais en même temps c’est lourd de porter But at the same time it’s heavy to bear
Le poids de savior que je ne peux plus remettre les pieds The weight of knowing that I can no longer put my feet
Sur la terre qui m’a vu naitre car le volcan l’a efface On the land which has seen me rise because the volcano has erased it
[Verse 3: Cassa] [Verse 3: Cassa]
Let go of what you think you know Let go of what you think you know
You got no idea about where I come from You got no idea about where I come from
My hometown’s been erased by a volcano My hometown’s been erased by a volcano
I coulda be homeless but I said “no no no” I coulda be homeless but I said “no no no”
Wherever I lay my head, that’s my home (home home home) Wherever I lay my head, that’s my home (home home home)
Strong like a stone, I keep rolling on (on and on and on) Strong like a stone, I keep rolling on (on and on and on)
(X 2)  (X 2)
Samy: Usiku na mcana najifica Samy: I hide myself day and night
Mambo mengi siwezi semaa There is so much I cannot say
Mikiona naceka usizani ni furaha If you see me laughing don’t assume I’m happy
 —  —
Hayaya yoyooo… Hayaya yoyooo…

[1] Nkunda amahoro (“I love peace”)

Entre 2 album review: Chasing Ghosts

Track 8: Raison d’Etre (“Reason to Be”)/Chasing Ghosts ft. Jason Ntaro & Body of Brian 

As we progress further through 1Key’s eclectic album, the tone shifts once again. 1Key’s eighth track – Raison d’Etre/Chasing Ghosts – was inspired by the soulful, folky quality of Ben Harper’s single Please me like you want to (2011). The music opens with the comforting sounds of an acoustic guitar and the passionate voice of Body of Brian, who sings his verse in English.

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Kigali, Rwanda. 2016. 1Key performing on the #expericment. [Courtesy of Innovation Village]

As the artists on the track contemplate their “reasons to be”, the album’s entre deux (“between two”) theme reappears. Once again, 1Key articulates his frustrations with the entrapments of a capitalist society. In order to emphasise the omnipresence of money, the wordsmith inserts multiple variations of the word “money” throughout his verse: L’argent, thunes, money, maille, blé, pognon, fric, beurre (“butter”), and pain (“bread”). In French, the rapper asks the question:

“In a consumerist society even the dream is for sale

What’s the right choice between passion and employment?” (Translated from French to English)

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Kigali, Rwanda. 2016. 1Key performing on the #expericment. [Courtesy of Innovation Village]

The track – which is about selling your soul to make money – is reflective of 1Key’s unease with his position as both an artist, concerned with “speaking truths”, and as the Creative Head for an advertising agency, where he is paid to sell ideas – whether he believes in them or not. 1Key tells us “…I sold grams of my soul/When I put my pen at the service of capitalism/For little money, I lost balance.” (Translated from French to English)

1Key was excited to collaborate with his favourite Ugandan poet for this track. Jason Ntaro shares 1Key’s concerns with the ever-demanding nature of capitalism. In verse 3 he tells us:

“Now I’m convinced that I’m working hard

But hard enough is not even hard enough

And so I sit, watch my shrivelled shadows and laugh

And fall willingly into this crack…”

Like 1Key, Jason Ntaro feels burdened by the repetitive emptiness of a life chasing money, rather than a life enriched by authenticity and meaning.

In May 2016, 1Key quit his job in advertising to pursue a full time career as an artist. As a fierce promoter of Kigali’s live music scene – which is severely under-funded – 1Key has been organising a series of live shows: the #expericment. The first show saw the evolution of the storyteller. As one fan tweeted: “[1Key] Came in like a slave and left like a rock star…” Indeed, it is beautiful watching 1Key evolve as an artist, among his family and his friends – and with a fast-growing audience beyond that. The second show was simpler: a band, a stool and a storyteller, with 1Key using this self-made-platform to invite other storytellers (singers, spoken word poets and comedians) to the stage. 1Key oozes stage presence and his third show in the series – which he called “Sexpericment” – playfully explored gender themes and sexuality.

Exp 3_Profile

Courtesy of Eric 1Key

In order to meet the financial demands of a live show, 1Key regularly appeals to his fans on social media sites, encouraging them to buy his album, and to purchase show tickets using mobile money. In January 2016, 1Key released The Free Song, with Don Nova, J Dub, Sickspits, Natacha, Arafat, and Khalil. (Prod. Jay P) 1Key’s opening line is unambiguous:

“I’m an artist, art is what I practice/If it’s free how do I eat? How do I survive?”

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Courtesy of the internet 

1Key’s perseverance in appealing for investors, and also for more creative spaces – there is still no national theatre in Rwanda – is relentless. In a recent blog post, he wrote:

“Special thanks to everyone who went out of their way to buy tickets with mobile money for the first time. Someone had said, “Rwandans don’t believe in pre-sales unless you are Stromae and they all don’t have Mobile money.” True! One fact though: About 60 Rwandans and non-Rwandans bought their tickets with Mobile Money (mostly pre-ordered) then skipped the Champions League final to attend the #expericment.”

Once again, 1Key proves himself a pioneer!

Entre 2 is available on Soundcloud – Entre2 and for sale on digital stores iTunesSpotify, and Amazon. 

Eric 1key is very active on social media where you can find him discussing and debating all kinds of things. For updates and live info, follow Eric1key on Twitter: @eric1key, Facebook: Facebook/eric1key, Soundcloud: soundcloud.com/eric1key or email for bookings at ericonekey@gmail.com

https://soundcloud.com/eric1key/raisondetre-chasingghosts-feat-jason-ntaro-brian-corpus

 

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Song lyrics and translations

Raison d’Etre (“Reason to Be”)/Chasing Ghosts ft. Jason Ntaro & Body of Brian [Track 8 on Entre 2 album] 

Prod. Lo Rider (Kampala); English, French.

[Verse 1: Body of Brian] [Verse 1: Body of Brian]
Wohhh! I’m losing myself Wohhh! I’m losing myself
It’s like I’m searching for something I don’t know It’s like I’m searching for something I don’t know
Could be the missing piece to my puzzled soul Could be the missing piece to my puzzled soul
My guts they tell me what I need is somewhere out there My guts they tell me what I need is somewhere out there
I have no clue where to look so I try everywhere I have no clue where to look so I try everywhere
It’s like whisky to an alcoholic, crack to a crackhead It’s like whisky to an alcoholic, crack to a crackhead
Except I’m missing something that I never had Except I’m missing something that I never had
[Hook] [Hook]
Eric 1key: Eric 1key:
Je cours après le vent dans ma quête I’m chasing the wind in my quest
Chaque jour je cherche ma raison d’être Each day I fabricate my reason to be
La Terre tourne et le cycle se répète The earth turns and the cycle repeats itself
Body of Brian: Body of Brian:
I traded my soul for a few notes I traded my soul for a few notes
Now that it’s gone up in smoke Now that it’s gone up in smoke
What reason to live and die for?       What reason to live and die for?
I feel like I’m chasing ghosts I feel like I’m chasing ghosts
Eric 1key: Eric 1key:
Je cours après le vent dans ma quête I’m chasing the wind in my quest
Chaque jour je cherche ma raison d’être Each day I fabricate my reason to be
La terre tourne et le cycle se répète The earth turns and the cycle repeats itself
[Verse 2: Eric 1key] [Verse 2: Eric 1key]
L’argentne fait pas le bonheur, la pauvreté non plus Money does not create happiness, poverty neither
Certainement parce que le bonheur existe depuis des lustres bien avant les thunes Certainly because happiness existed way long before “money”
No money, no life mais la maille n’offre pas l’immortalité No money, no life but then money doesn’t make you immortal
No pain, no gain alors on souffre puis on die pour le blé No pain, no gain so we suffer and die for money
C’est pas l’amour du beurre qui nous motive à gagner le pain It’s not the love of “butter” that pushes us to get “bread”
Mais surtout la peur de ne pas en avoir au réveil le matin But the fear of not having “butter” in the morning when we wake up
Le pognon est une drogue, impossible de rester lucide Money is a drug, it’s impossible to be lucid
On en devient accro et son manque peut résulter en suicide We all get hooked on it and its absence can lead to suicide
Société de consommateurs, le rêve est commercial In a consumerist society even the dream is for sale
Entre la passion et l’emploi, c’est quoi le bon choix? What’s the right choice between passion and employment?
L’artiste se dit heureux malgré sa vie de sutures So artists convince themselves they are happy, despite their miserable lives
L’employé est malheureux car s’il bosse dur And the employed are unhappy because when they work hard
C’est juste pour payer ses factures It’s only so they can pay their bills
Moi qui n’ai jamais voulu vendre mon art I never really wanted to sell my art
J’ai vendu quelques grammes de mon âme But I sold grams of my soul
En mettant ma plume au service du capitalisme When I put my pen at the service of capitalism
Pour un peu de fric, j’ai perdu l’équilibre For little money, I lost balance
Deux poids deux mesures Making the choice will never be fair and balanced
[Hook] [Hook]
Eric 1key: Eric 1key:
Je cours après le vent dans ma quête I’m chasing the wind in my quest
Chaque jour je cherche ma raison d’être Each day I fabricate my reason to be
La Terre tourne et le cycle se répète The earth turns and the cycle repeats itself
Body of Brian: Body of Brian:
I traded my soul for a few notes I traded my soul for a few notes
Now that it’s gone up in smoke Now that it’s gone up in smoke
What reason to live and die for?       What reason to live and die for?
I feel like I’m chasing ghosts I feel like I’m chasing ghosts
Eric 1key: Eric 1key:
Je cours après le vent dans ma quête I’m chasing the wind in my quest
Chaque jour je cherche ma raison d’être Each day I fabricate my reason to be
La Terre tourne et le cycle se répète The earth turns and the cycle repeats itself
[Verse 3: Jason Ntaro] [Verse 3: Jason Ntaro]
Chasing gold but no goal, so chasing ghosts Chasing gold but no goal, so chasing ghosts
Wasting life growing old Wasting life growing old
This is not the story that I was told by those of old This is not the story that I was told by those of old
Now I’m convinced that I’m working hard Now I’m convinced that I’m working hard
But hard enough is not even hard enough But hard enough is not even hard enough
And so I sit, watch my shriveled shadows and laugh And so I sit, watch my shriveled shadows and laugh
And fall willingly into this crack And fall willingly into this crack
So, I sell out So, I sell out
I sell my soul as I sweat and toil I sell my soul as I sweat and toil
Constantly planting crops in hard barren soil Constantly planting crops in hard barren soil
But I stress and I boil But I stress and I boil
In this system I am the clown In this system I am the clown
And now… And now…
Heavy this load, I try to cope Heavy this load, I try to cope
This tug and war has a slippery rope This tug and war has a slippery rope
Complacency replaces me Complacency replaces me
Ignorance embraces me Ignorance embraces me
My shadows stare into my periphery My shadows stare into my periphery
And I realize that I am empty And I realize that I am empty
[Hook] [Hook]
Eric 1key: Eric 1key:
Je cours après le vent dans ma quête I’m chasing the wind in my quest
Chaque jour je cherche ma raison d’être Each day I fabricate my reason to be
La Terre tourne et le cycle se répète The earth turns and the cycle repeats itself
Body of Brian: Body of Brian:
I traded my soul for a few notes I traded my soul for a few notes
Now that it’s gone up in smoke Now that it’s gone up in smoke
What reason to live and die for?       What reason to live and die for?
I feel like I’m chasing ghosts I feel like I’m chasing ghosts
Eric 1key: Eric 1key:
Je cours après le vent dans ma quête I’m chasing the wind in my quest
Chaque jour je cherche ma raison d’être Each day I fabricate my reason to be
La Terre tourne et le cycle se répète The earth turns and the cycle repeats itself
Brian Corpus: Body of Brian:
Mmmm feel like I’m chasing ghosts Mmmm feel like I’m chasing ghosts

Entre 2 album review: A l’Africaine (Iwacu)

Track 3: L’Africaine (Iwacu) [“In the African Style (Iwacu)”]

A l’Africaine (Iwacu) (“In the African Style [Iwacu]”) is a love song between 1Key and Africa, his Iwacu, which means “home” or “homeland” in Kinyarwanda. In his song, 1Key invites us to a generalised Africa. His detailed descriptions evoke the human senses when he speaks of rain flowing over skin, kept warm by the sun. He tells us: “Close your eyes so I can remove your mascara with my kisses”, and: “Come, put your head on my chest/Listen to the echo of the source of my forces.” (Translated from French to English) The hook, too, has a particularly seductive quality:

“Come taste this love

Though it might seem tough

It’s sweet like sugar cane

Viens que je t’aime à l’Africaine [‘I wanna love you the African way’]

Iwacu.” (Translated from French to English)

DSCN3852

Kigali, Rwanda. 2016. Cecile Kayirebwa performing at her album launch. [Courtesy of the author]

For 1Key, a self-proclaimed citizen of the world, home is not a single, fixed place, but a feeling. Wishing to evoke a feeling of connectedness to Rwanda, he samples Cecile Kayirebwa’s renowned and well-loved song Iwacu, which was released as a track on her Amahoro (“Peace”) album in 1998, four years after the 1994 Genocide. When the Rwandan traditional singer recorded Iwacu she was living in Belgium. 1Key told me: “She was announcing her homecoming. She was describing the streets of Kigali, you know? It was beautiful”

While Cecile Kayirebwa was longing to physically return home to Rwanda, 1Key was already there, living a life between Kigali, Rwanda and Kampala, Uganda, and amongst the beautiful nature he so lovingly describes. For 1Key, his nostalgia is for a generalised “African Style”, before it was corrupted and diluted by dominant, Western-born ideals. For a moment, at least, 1Key invites us to take off our watches and our make-up, and to stop viewing life through technology. He says:

“Forget your apps, your gadgets, disconnect yourself from the society-screen

Reality is in the experience of the moment, not on the screen

Free yourself from modern slavery,  come discover that innocent smile that you lost

Before we move to the other side, or before the machine colonises us” (Translated from French to English)

Kibuye, Rwanda

Lake Kivu, Kibuye-Rwanda. [Courtesy of the author]

As well as forms of technology, 1Key asks his listeners to forget Western romance plots like Roméo and Juliet and Cyrano de Bergérac, which, he told me, he and his peers were exposed to during their childhoods, and which “set the format for love.” (1Key) Instead, 1Key makes reference to African stories, folk tales and superstitions, thus celebrating and promoting this generalised “African Style” he refers to. 1Key raps about Bwiza, a princess in “Rwanda’s most popular romantic tale.” (1Key) He says: “I had ticks in my eyes before I met you”, which, according to Rwandan superstition, happens to a person when they’re about to see something beautiful and surprising. Finally, 1Key raps:

“Do not be afraid of the dark, these BOOM that you hear

It is the ndombolo, makossa, kwasa kwasa coupe de Kale

These loud voices are byivugo, mpangara nguhangare, under a starlit sky.” (Translated from French to English)

Here, 1Key is making reference to drum-heavy dance styles from the DRC (ndombolo, and then the kwasa kwasa style invented by Congolese soukous music legend Pepe Kalle), and from Côte d’Ivoire (makossa), as well as Rwandese oral traditions. Like most Kigalians today, 1Key is extremely proud to be Rwandan, and also African more generally. The artist wanted to counter the “racist cartoons” and pernicious representations of Africa as “the dark continent”, which have dominated (and to a large extent continue to dominate) Western media outlets. 1Key’s concerns in relation to representations of Africa are reflective of current discourse among many African communities.

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Lake Kivu, Gisyeni/Rubavu-Rwanda. [Courtesy of the author]

Continuing the album’s motif of Entre Deux (or “Between Two”), 1Key further indulges in African folk tales. In the first verse he describes the in-between weather of “sunny rains” and tells us: “You will be amazed by the/Dance of these innocent little children celebrating the birth of the new leopard”. (Translated from French to English). In the Rwandan version of this tale, when it rains and it is sunny at the same time a hyena has just got married, while in the Ugandan version this signifies the birth of a leopard. 1Key recorded his vocals in Kampala and he opted for the Ugandan version of the tale, which rhymes beautifully. 1Key told me that he enjoyed inserting an element of surprise for his audience, which is predominantly made up of Francophone Rwandans.

A l’Africaine (Iwacu) is rich with multiple meanings and references to 1Key’s lived experiences, which he manages to sew together in creative and thoughtful ways. 1Key is a playful poet and enjoys concealing meaning between the lines of his text, for the “deserving ones” to uncover. (Refer to the final line of Apprenti_Sage) The opening line of A l’Africaine (Iwacu) makes reference to a song called Monaco (28 degrés à l’ombre) by Jean François Maurice. 1Key remembers listening to this explicitly erotic French song on Radio Rwanda. He tells us: “In my world [meaning Rwanda] we remain bashful, yet it is always beautiful”. (Translated from French to English). Once again, 1Key is appealing for pride in “the African style”, this time in relation to conversations about sex. Rwandans are more reticent about public discussions of sex than Westerners stereotypically are.

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Musanze, Rwanda. 2015. Rwandan traditional dance: a contemporary cultural symbol of “being Rwandan.” [Courtesy of Amy Pritchard]

In A L’Africaine (Iwacu), 1Key celebrates a rather romantic view of the “African Style” as being about: folktales and drums, nature and innocence, and forgoing technology. His song speaks to some of the big, important themes in Rwandan nation-building efforts and patriotism: the promotion of Rwandan traditional dance, the celebration of Rwanda’s beautiful landscapes (and gorillas), and Agaciro: a powerful phrase that Rwandans use to define their self-worth and dignity. Simultaneously, 1Key contributes to current efforts in countering negative portrayals of Africa, such as the image of starving children with flies in their eyes. Interestingly, though, 1Key’s generalising of the “African Style” (rather than acknowledging the continent’s diversity), and the associating of Africa with innocent rural scenes and drums, reinforces particular stereotypes about the African continent; stereotypes which members of various African and pan-African communities have opposed.

Entre 2 is available on Soundcloud – Entre2 and for sale on digital stores iTunesSpotify, and Amazon. 

Eric 1key is very active on social media where you can find him discussing and debating all kinds of things. For updates and live info, follow Eric1key on Twitter: @eric1key, Facebook: Facebook/eric1key, Soundcloud: soundcloud.com/eric1key or email for bookings at ericonekey@gmail.com

 

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Song lyrics and translations

A L’Africaine (Iwacu) (“In the African Style” (Iwacu) [Track 3 on Entre 2 album]) 

Prod. Junior Kafi (Kigali). Vocals: Urban Aksent (Kampala); French, English, Kinyarwanda.

[Verse 1] [Verse 1]
28 degrés à l’ombre, le temps serait lubrique à Monaco 28 degrees in the shade, the time would be lustful in Monaco
Dans mon monde, on reste pudique pourtant il fait toujours beau In my world we remain bashful, yet it is always beautiful
Mes chansons seraient toutes éro-tiques si je devrais parler amour et météo All of my songs would be erotic if I should talk about love and weather
Car quand c’est pas la pluie qui tombe et parcourt ta peau Because when the rain is not flowing all over your skin
Les rayons du soleil t’entourent pour te garder au chaud The rays of the sun keep you warm
Si tu ne succombes pas pour les pluies ensoleillées If you don’t succumb to the sunny rains
Et tous ces phénomènes qui laissent sans mot And all these phenomena which leave you speechless
Tu n’arrêteras pas d’être émerveillée You will be amazed by the
Par la danse de ces innocents mômes qui célèbrent la naissance du nouveau bébé leopard Dance of these innocent little children celebrating the birth of the new leopard
Oui on est un peu superstitieux, y a toujours plus à que la vue donne Yes we are a bit superstitious; there is always more than the eye can see
D’ailleurs j’avais des tics aux yeux avant notre rencontre Moreover I had ticks in my eyes before I met you
Comme si l’univers me préparait sans que je m’en rende compte As if the universe was preparing me without me realising
Allez donne moi ta main, enlève ta montre Come on, give me your hand and take off your watch
T’en aura pas besoin, monte avec moi sur ma colline You will not need it, climb with me on top of my hill
Que je te montre où se cache le dernier bout de paradis So I can show you the last piece of paradise
[Hook] [Hook]
Come taste this love Come taste this love
Thought it might seem tough Though it might seem tough
It’s sweet like sugar cane It’s sweet like sugar cane
Viens que je t’aime à l’Africaine I wanna love you the African way
Iwacu… Iwacu…
Come taste this love Come taste this love
Thought it might seem tough Though it might seem tough
It’s sweet like sugar cane It’s sweet like sugar cane
Viens que je t’aime à l’Africaine I wanna love you the African way
Iwacu… Iwacu… 
[Verse 2] [Verse 2]
Oublies tes apps, tes gadgets, étrique-toi de la société-écran Forget your apps, your gadgets, disconnect yourself from the society-screen
La réalité est dans l’expérience de l’instant, pas sur l’écran Reality is in the experience of the moment, not on the screen
Libère toi de l’esclavage moderne, viens retrouver le sourire  Free yourself from modern slavery, come discover that innocent smile that you lost
Avant qu’on passe à l’autre rive ou que la machine nous colonise Before we move to the other side, or before the machine colonises us
Viens vivre le rêve de naturaliste loin des caricatures racists Come  live the dream of naturists, far away from racist cartoons
Craint pas ces bombes, ce sont les future reums de nos enfants Fear not these bomb shells, they are the future mothers of our children
N’aie pas peur de la tombée de la nuit, ces BOOM que t’entend Do not be afraid of the dark, these BOOM that you hear
C’est du ndombolo, makosa, kwasa kwasa coupé de Kalé It is the ndombolo, makossa, kwasa kwasa coupé de Kalé
Ces cris c’est des byivugo, des mpangara nguhangare, sous un ciel étoilé These loud voices are ibyivugo, mpangara nguhangare, under a starlit sky
Si on célèbre autant c’est parce que la nature nous a bénit If we celebrate this much, it’s because we are blessed by nature
Reveilles-toi, regarde le soleil se lever derrière les collines Wake up, look at the sun rise behind the hills
Ces merveilles se répètent tous les jours mais restent magiques These marvels repeat every day, but remain magical
[Hook] [Hook]
Come taste this love Come taste this love
Thought it might seem tough Though it might seem tough
It’s sweet like sugar cane It’s sweet like sugar cane
Viens que je t’aime à l’Africaine I wanna love you the African way
Iwacu… Iwacu… 
Come taste this love Come taste this love
Thought it might seem tough Though it might seem tough
It’s sweet like sugar cane It’s sweet like sugar cane
Viens que je t’aime à l’Africaine I wanna love you the African way
Iwacu… Iwacu… 
[Verse 3] [Verse 3]
Oublie Harlequin, Roméo et Juliette, Cyrano de Bergérac Forget Harlequin, Roméo and Juliet, Cyrano de Bergérac
Laisse béton tes bouquins, mon amour est incomparable Forget about your books, my love is incomparable
Ferme les pages de ton roman-photo, regarde moi Close the pages of photo novel, look at me
Nous Deux c’est réel, non tu ne rêves pas You and I, it’s real, no you are not dreaming
Ferme les yeux que j’ôte ton mascara de mes bises Close your eyes so I can remove your mascara with my kisses
Allez viens ma Bwiza que je te dise Come my Bwiza so I can tell you
A quel point tu me rappelle la légende de Mashira How much you remind me of the legend of Mashira?
Eternelle Beauté sans maquillage convoitée par les rois Eternal beauty without makeup desired by the kings
Allez viens, pose ta tête sur mon torse Come, put your head on my chest
Ecoute l’écho de la source de mes forces Listen to the echo of the source of my forces
Te dire à chaque BOOM, ndagukunda mieux que les mots Telling you on each BOOM, I love you more than words
Je te dirai rarement “I love you,” I will rarely tell you “I love you”
C’est pas une routine Iwacu This is not a routine at home
Mais je poserai ces mots sur ma langue pour que tu savoure le vrai gout de l’amour But I will put these words on my tongue so that you can savour the true taste of love
[Hook] [Hook]
Come taste this love Come taste this love
Thought it might seem tough Though it might seem tough
It’s sweet like sugar cane It’s sweet like sugar cane
Viens que je t’aime à l’Africaine I wanna love you the African way
Iwacu Iwacu 
Come taste this love Come taste this love
Thought it might seem tough Though it might seem tough
It’s sweet like sugar cane It’s sweet like sugar cane
Viens que je t’aime à l’Africaine I wanna love you the African way
Iwacu Iwacu