On Memory & Hope

I heard mourning is nationwide, your loss is personal though
Collective memory? But trauma is individual
Commemoration is periodic, your grief permanent
History’s selective as if events were tournaments

Suicidal thoughts jam on memory lane
Survival above all is a struggle to stay sane
Yet somehow you maintained
Bet no external consciousness would last a day in your brain

The past is non reversible, and present isn’t always a gift
The future unpredictable especially when gazed from a cliff
But since the only way is forward, familiarize with haze and mist
Trust the process, believe in the magic of life
Have faith in darkness when the stars and the moon don’t shine
If you can make it through the night, well, the sun will rise like a prize

I wish you find purpose and relief before you get to rest
You survived the worst, I hope you live to see the best
For what it’s worth, you’re worth it

#1key

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

#StandForBurundi

Published on Dec 28, 2015 by Illume

For the month of December, Illume provided a platform for poets to speak out on the tragedy happening to our brothers and sisters next door in Burundi. The theme was #StandForBurundi

Realizing that history was repeating itself, I raised my voice hoping that Rwanda and the world could hear the cries of people suffering from the same virus that Rwanda went through between 1990 and 1994. Realizing that these massacres seem like a cycle, I titled my piece Burundi’s Turn

Burundi’s Turn – Lyrics

When an elephant in the wild loses its mind;
The grass and trees pay a heavy price;
Mother nature cries rivers of tears while,
The wind plays an old time sad melody;
For the weak left at the giant’s mercy;
Might makes right, you know the story;
I am a keeper of memory, that’s why I write poetry;
For the beautiful country that is Burundi;
Before the blood of your children fills up your valleys;
And all that remain on the hills are empty sorries;
I pray that the world feels your pain like a knife in the spine;
May your tears overflow on our social feeds and timelines;
May we get no sleep till you find peace in the morning;
Then maybe we will stop being indifferent to your suffering;
And stand up for you coz you can’t right now;
Broken limbs got you falling apart, but deep down;
I know you’re crawling, here’s a shoulder for you to lean on;
No guns but we soldier on, marching through the dawn;
Hoping that the sun brings a new day to your sons and daughters’ home;
And when we look at each other in the morning;
We really mean it when we say “Amahoro.”

#1Key

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!

12916306_813347582105143_8475480197772827670_o
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

_______

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”)