Kwipasa muremure

Abakinnye karere si ngombwa kubasobanurira icyo “kwipasa muremure” bisobanura. Abakurikira umupira bo sinabibarusha. Si no mu mupira gusa ushobora no kwipasa muremure mu buzima busanzwe. Urugero ni ukujya mu kabari ufite gahunda n’inshuti iza kukugurira ugatumiza byeri ya nshuti yawe igahura n’ikibazo ntize telephone yawe ikazima. Wenda aho wavuga ko harimo n’ubudebe. Uwabivuga nutazi icyaka icyo ari cyo uretse ko ushobora gusanga nawe ari muri ba bantu batunga imodoka igira retorovizeri igura amafaranga aruta umushahara wabo. Uti uyu ni umusongarere. Ukavuga utyo utunze terefone ihenze kurusha moto kandi nta na mobayiro money irimo yo kwishyura urugendo rwo kuri moto rwa make. Ugasekwa nukodesha inzu y’ibihumbi magana ariko agahora yikopesha amakara kwa mama Mutesi. Nawe wakongeraho ingero niba wayotse [Kuyoka ni ukurishyira mu nkoranya mwongeraho ko ari ikiryogo. Eh! abuzukura bacu bazakeka ko kera mu gihe cy’abami b’abatafugenge habayeho ikiryogo ari cyo cyabyaye ikinyarwanda cyabo]
Umuntu yakwibaza ati igitera kwipasa muremure ni iki? Ese nuko umuntu aba yabuze ubundi buryo? Reka reka! Abantu dukunda ibituvuna nubwo tudakunda kubyemera. Mu mukino w’umupira w’amaguru uwipasa muremure aba yabaze nabi. Yabigira akamenyero akitwa umuswa. Ikindi kandi ntaba ashaka gukinisha abandi bakinnyi. Yumva ko ari we kamara. Nyamara agakoresha imbaraga nyinshi yiruka inyuma yigihombo.
Uyu munsi nafashe bisi iva kimironko njya mu mujyi mara isaha n’igice umushoferi azunguruka hose ashakisha umuhanda. Navuyemo ntaragera iyo njya nkomeza n’amaguru kuko ukwihangana kwanjye kungana n’ururo. Impamvu urugendo rwatinze nuko umuhanda bisi yari isanzwe inyuramo wagenewe abanyacyubahiro baturutse mu bihugu bitandukanye by’Afrurika baje kwitabira inama nkuru nyafurika kw’ishoramari. Sinanze abashyitsi rwose. Udasurwa aba ari umugome. Ariko na none dushyize mu gaciro, ndavuga ka kandi abayobozi bahora batubwira, hatumvikana ka kandi baciramo, kubuza abaturage uburenganzira bwo gukoresha imihanda yubatswe n’imisoro yabo ngo nugushimisha abashyitsi bangahe… ibyo ni ukubatesha agaciro! Nabisanisha na rya kandamiza rikorerwa abana ngo bicare hasi bahe intebe umushyitsi nkaho uwatumiye umushyitsi atigeze atekereza aho aza kumwicaza. Igisekeje kandi kinababaje nuko iyi nama igamije kwiga ku buryo abanyafurika twashyira hamwe ngo tuzamure ubukungu bw’umugabane yateje kandi izagukomeza guteza igihombo mu gihugu igihe cyose izamara. Urugero: umushoferi ko ataza kurenza amaturu abiri ku munsi araveresa iki itike ikiri kuri magana abiri mirongo itatu kandi aza kunywesha amavuta inshuro nyinshi ate n’umwanya ashakisha umuhanda nk’amazi yabuze aho atoborera? Umumotari wanyishyuje igihumbi aha magana atanu nawe akayatamo azenguruka Kigali ashakisha umuhanda iyi nama imumariye iki? Ibi murabona atari ukwipasa muremure? Si ubwa mbere, nubushije haba inama ihuza abakuru b’Afurika habaye ikibazo cyo kugenda. Ubu noneho byahumiye ku mirari kubera imvura. Ubwo uribaza gutonda umurongo muri gare ukanyagirwa utazi ko hari bisi iza kuboneka? Ese ubundi ko inama iba yateguwe amezi n’amezi mbere, kuki ntawatekereje ku buryo abaturage bazakomeza imirimo yabo batabangamiwe?
Ubwo hagati aho sinakubwira ibyongereza biba byaciye indimi ngo twahinduye Afurika. Byo nyine guharira umuhanda abantu mirongo na ukabuza uburenganzira bwa miriyoni na- nabyo wakagombye kubyibazaho. Niba ari imena bigeze aho ntimwabategera kajugujugu ko zihari? Iki kibazo Afurika iragihorana, abayobozi bafatwa nk’imana kandi bakagombye kuba abakozi b’abaturage. Nubwo ntawakopfora ngo avuge ko yabangamiwe n’amahitamo y’ubuyobozi si ukuvuga ko biba bitagaragara. Agahinda k’inkoko…
Icyo maze kubona muri iki gihugu ni uko imigambi myinshi ari myiza ariko ishyirwa mu bikorwa rya byinshi ntiriba ryizweho neza. Atari uko iyi mihanda mishyashya ntiyakabaye icukurwa uku bwije uko bukeye ngaho ngo fibre, ngaho ngo twabaze nabi tuyagure, ngaho ngo yatobotse; ngaho abaturage bahawe inka babuzwa kuragira… nibwo usanga mu Mushyikirano muzehe atonganya abayobozi nkaho ari abana bo mu mashuri abanza. Ibyo byose ni ukwipasa muremure. Kugira igitekerezo cyiza ntibihagije ngo ukore neza. Yego hamaze kubakwa byinshi mu myaka makumyabiri n’ine ishize ariko ntibihagije. Kubaga igihugu ni uguhozaho. Ikibazo gikomeye ni imyumvire y’abayobozi bamwe na bamwe. Nibaza ko iyo bumvise ijamba “kubaka” bahita batekereza amatafari. Wenda niyo mpamvu Kigali yubatse ariko ikaba ituwe na bake kubera ubushobozi. Ugasanga umucuruzi w’imyenda akodesha akumba ku madorari igihumbi kandi agurisha ishati kuri makumyabiri ku bakiriya bari mbarwa.
Ubu dufite ikibazo gikomeye cy’urubyiruko rufite ibitekerezo byubaka ariko kuko bitajyanye n’imitekerereze ishaje y’abayobozi bamwe na bamwe bigatuma bitwa ibipinga. Nimureke dupinge ntitugifite ubuzima bumwe. Iyo abenshi mwahaze ntimwibuka ko mwigeze gusabiriza. Mumbarize minisitiri w’urubyuruko niba nta soni agira iyo abashyitsi bamusabye aho bakwidagadurira akabura icyo abereka? Ese wa mugani, abaha akaradiyo ngo bumve ikinamico iyo bamusabye aho barebera za teyatere? Ese ayo madovize ni itegeko ko ajya mu ngagi gusa? Abahanzi ntibayakeneye ngo biteze imbere? Abafite utubari ntibayakeneye?
Niba koko umutekano ari wowe nkuko tubyemeza isi, kuki ntawe utekanye ku mufuka uretse abatuye mu duce tudasa n’ahandi? Nibaza ko tumaze gusirimuka ku buryo tutagikeneye kwiyerekana uko tutari. Kuba umuzungu avuga ko tuba mu bihuru, si ngombwa ko tubyuka twubaka amagorofa akarara amurika ijoro ryose ntawe amurikira kandi nyamara abenshi bakiri mu bihuru, wasanga icyihutirwa ari ukugira amazi n’amashanyarazi mu ngo zacu twese. Nidukomeza kwipasa muremure urubyiruko rw’ubu ruzagira akazi gakomeye ko gusana aho kongera itafari ku byubatswe.
Tworoherane kandi duhorane amahoro.
~Agafunguzo

A Thought For #Kenya

The hardest thing for me to swallow about the situation in #Kenya right now is to realize that the violence was expected. It was talked about. There were warnings; Signs. And now it is happening. Again. The same Us-Versus-Them rhetoric. If you knew how much Us there is in Them and how much Them there is in Us, you would know that a panga is not gonna cut it. It’s no way to settle land disputes older than your lineage’s imagination combined.
I speak as a Rwandan born in exile because some people in Rwanda in the late 1950’s thought panga was the way. Where are they now? Many of them became manure for bushes to flourish just like their victims. Neither own the land. You cannot own the earth. It will swallow you before you know it whether you are good or bad. You are a part of nature just like the remains of your ancestors, animals, trees… they’re all present in the soil you step on, the dust, in the air that you breathe, even in the stars light years away. We are all made of the same matter. There is no tribe in your DNA. There’s life, even in its smallest form. And no life is more important than another. That’s why our emotions are the same – fear, courage, sadness, happiness, love, hate… They are the reflections of the other. So if you can feel, you can be the other.

Please forgive me if this sounds ignorant or poetic while people are being killed, I’m sorry but all I want to say is that Kenyans you are being “polytricked” by the same people over again. The playbook is the same. Had it changed, we wouldn’t be having the same scenario: Create chaos, exploit the weak, come through as savior, blame it on your opponent, be a hero, amass wealth and repeat the pattern.

What’s the smallest thing you can do (or not do) to avoid the trap?

~1key

Rwanda Rising

Published on 4th July, 2016 by Huck Magazine

I sat down with Alex King twice for a few hours discussing what were my perceptions about modern Rwanda, the challenges in the creative industry and the influence of contemporary arts in our society. His piece covered a lot that was happening in Rwanda, and it seemed that I was happening too 🙂

Eric is critical of Rwanda’s neoliberal economic policy and the culture it has created, chasing big houses and SUVs. “The hypocrisy is that we’re copying a model, but we’re telling the people that everything is original,” he explains. “No, you’re copying from a model that’s failing.” He condemns the real estate speculation in Kigali, insecure contracts and young people being pushed into debt.

Read more

 

On that Diaspora / Panafricanism thingy

[Initially posted on my Facebook page on Sept 15th 2016]

When I hear the word “revolutionary,” I swear I kind of panic. There’s a certain spirit that comes with it. Not long ago, I went to a function in Kigali where people were calling each other comrades. Eh! That was too intimidating for me I swear. I felt like I was in a movie set in Europ in the mid 40’s.

When someone calls themselves a revolutionary, I wonder if they know what it means? To mean it’s simple, you are ready to die for benefits that others will enjoy and in the process you will do whatever it takes to make that happen. In the Rwandan context today, at the question “who are the others if we are one and all is good for everyone” I do not have any answer.
Just because I found a way to express my thoughts, that does not make me special. Everyone should be able to. There is no need for me to wear a beret or call myself an activist just because I am eloquent. I will not disrespect the blood of those who died so I can be free, live free, speak freely by leveling my little self to their immense courage. I will not either waste the opportunity to live the life they couldn’t just because of some walls of fear constructed around me. No! Their sacrifice would be a waste. So I am going to enjoy it so they can cheer, fist-bump from wherever they are, whenever they are watching me. Those are the true pan-africanists. I am just a guy behind a big smartphone’s screen enjoying privileges that about 99% of people around me do not have. Truth be told, we romanticize words such as patriotic, revolutionary, panafrican. They got a good sound to them, don’t they? They make us feel like we are part of something greater than ourselves yet we all know if anything happened that would jeopardize our comfort, we would be the first heading to the airport. Hey, we’ve got passports. It’s a luxury around here. If you don’t think it is, you probably have one or you live in a place where it’s a basic right. Probably education is, healthcare too. Well that’s the case around here (I am in Rwanda by the way) but we are working on these things and others. However we still have a long way to go.
I am not one of those who will lie to you that opportunities are abundant and birds are harvesting because we have too much. This is an internet era where you all have access to real information and not just reports. I will not sell to you the image of an expensive bling bling dome that we only take from afar while I forget the slum that is right behind it between Rugando and Kicukiro. I will not shout every day that we have the cleanest city on the continent while I haven’t showered for two days because some of us have given up on the idea of running water in our homes. I will not try to impress you with beautiful street lights around the city while everything outside is in complete dark and that power is no solar. I will not sell you the picture of buildings worth hundreds of millions of dollars when the locals cannot afford to conduct meaningful business into them and be able to pay rent at home. I will not lure engineers to drop their jobs and come work with us when I clearly know that we will not be able to pay you the quarter of what you are currently earning. I will not ask students to drop their education and come continue it here because my former colleagues barely have jobs; local engineers and scientists are teachers for lack of opportunities. I will not ask artists to stop their tours in Europe and America to come perform for empty seats because people do not have the luxury to attend 15$ shows unless it’s an annual event. I will not ask my aunties to stop washing dishes and old people because at least that money takes care of my grandma’s medical bills and rent while I am broke, not because I do not have the skillset and talent, but simply because the opportunities we talk about are just words that we pick up on the Internet. You know the saying, “The problem with people today is that they care more about looking successful than being successful”? Welcome to your country.
I do not mean to disrespect anybody or any effort. On the contrary, I salute this tremendous progress. It’s unbelievable to watch and be a part of it however. Maybe I’m too small-minded to catch up but please, show me, teach me, explain to me how politicians driving imported SUV’s worth $100,000 and living in $250,000 mansions while I can’t sleep on an empty stomach will make me dream big? Explain to me why we live in such parallel universes where my truth becomes a mere rant because it is not reflected in your reports? Explain to me how a car-free day for millions of people who can’t even dream to have a car today because import taxes are extremely high is such an important innovation? How millions of dollars have to be spent in setting 4G technology on buses for which I can barely afford 230Frw per trip are going to help me grow my beans when draught hits the land? Tell me why I shouldn’t try my luck elsewhere because I’m surviving at 35 while I should have started building a house for my mother already? Kuki abo turi kumwe bose bimyoza iyo ubabajije uko babayeho?

Dear Diaspora,
I will tell you this. We “returned” to Rwanda because it was time to. We needed to. Nobody forced us to. Do it in your time, at your own pace. It would be a shame if you came home and not find your place because you did not take an informed decision. Also keep in mind that you will NOT enjoy the comfort that you may have where you are right now unless you sacrifice years in making that happen.
When you come it is not to harvest as many would lie to you, it is to invest the (“little”) money you have and lots of sweat. Be prepared for realities that defy logic on so many levels and in so many ways but above all welcome to your home.
Amahoro.

1key, 1love.

Entre 2 album review: Politricks

 

Track 7: Politricks

According to 1Key, Politricks is his “most dangerous song because it’s not politically correct.” In Rwanda it is unusual (taboo, even) to directly and publicly talk (or sing) politics, unless to reinforce the status quo. And yet 1Key tells us: “Today I found its [politics] nose in my business, what should I do?/I’m sorry Mum, I will not keep quiet”. (Translated from French to English) Indeed, poetry is a medium through which we are able to experience how the personal is political. In his previous track (Entre 2), we learnt that 1Key values honesty, and that he exists “without filter between thought and speech.” In our conversations, 1Key told me: “I’m not into politics, but I’m sad to see the same stories over and over again”, an idea he articulates in Politricks when he asks the question: “How can we be so fooled when history repeats itself in a loop?” (Translated from French to English)

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Courtesy of Eric 1Key

While Entre 2 narrates the story of a “Hero” and a “Coward”, Politricks explores disparities between the powerful and the powerless, or between “the voices” and “the voiceless.” (Translated from French to English) As a conscious “citizen of the world” – who accesses online space and engages with current global debates – 1Key addresses subjects such as: cosmopolitanism, patriotism, Pan-Africanism, Black Power and Democracy. In Politricks, 1Key inserts selected quotations about politics, which he has found online, in addition to his own words. For example: “Democracy means “you are free to talk” and dictatorship means “shut the fuck up”…” And: “But remember that “in parliament, there is talk and lies” ~ Léon Campion.” (Translated from French to English) 1Key has also borrowed the colloquial term Politricks – the word ‘politics’ altered to convey the empty-campaign promises often experienced after politicians get elected – for the title of this track.

Like Entre 2, Politricks is heavily influenced by hip-hop and exudes a serious and dramatic mood. The robotic effects on 1Key’s vocals contribute to the sinister quality of the track, while perhaps also representing the passive and obedient nature of many Rwandans – an issue that 1Key explores in Entre 2. In the opening lines 1Key tells us: “Welcome to Politricks/I’m going to teach you everything…/…that you already know Mouahahahahahahaha!” And later in the hook:

“Trick me, trick me, trick me – till I lose control

Promise, promise, promise – till I give you my vote

Trick me, trick me, trick me – till I lose control

Promise, promise, promise – till I give you my vote.”   

Here, the question of language reappears. It is interesting that the hook is in English, while the verses are in French. English is the language of Rwanda’s current political elite, while also being a “cool” and “trendsetting” language. On the other hand, French is the language closer to 1Key’s soul. 1Key told me that he prefers to rap in French; he enjoys how French words sound and was inspired by mostly Francophone rappers and poets. The use of language is effective, then, in widening the division between 1Key’s emotive and defiant voice in the verses, and the “zombie-like” citizens in the hook.

1Key wrote Politricks when he was living in Kampala, Uganda. The production was a collaborate effort between Joe, at Yego Studio in Kampala, and Barick, at the producer’s home studio in Kigali. 1Key recently performed Politricks live for the first time. (Check the video link below, from 09:13)

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

Politricks [Track 7 on Entre 2 album] 

Prod. Barick (Kigali). Vocals: Yego Studio (Kampala); English, French.

[Intro] [Intro]
Welcome to Politricks Welcome to Politricks
I’m going to teach you everything… I’m going to teach you everything…
… that you already know Mouahahahahahahaha!  … that you already know Mouahahahahahahaha!
   
[Verse 1] [Verse 1]
Dans mon esprit In my mind
J’ai le charisme de mon grand-père, toujours véridique I have the charisma of my Grandfather, always truthful
Dans mes oreilles In my ears
J’ai les conseils de ma mère “Te mêle jamais de la politique” I hear my Mother’s advice “never get into politics”
Aujourd’hui j’ai trouvé son nez dans mes affaires, que faire? Today I found its nose in my business, what should I do?
Je suis désolé m’man, j’vais pas m’taire I’m sorry Mum, I will not keep quiet
Faire semblant et être complice de ses malices Turn a blind eye and be an accomplice of its malice
C’est parce que je cours des risques que t’écoutes ce disque If you can hear this record it’s because I take risks
Enfant seul, je veux dire fils unique Lonely child, I mean only son
Je navigue sans guide depuis que je suis petit I sail with no guide since I was a child
Comme le messie, je fais partie d’aucun parti politique Like the Messiah, I am part of no political party
Liberal, je flotte dans ma bulle poétique Liberal, I float in my poetic bubble
Faudra un dico à certains de mes compatriotes pour qu’ils My countrymen need a dictionary so that they can
Comprennent la différence entre cosmopolitain et anti-patriotique Understand the difference between cosmopolitan and anti-patriotic
Je marche la tête haute, bien en l’air comme un astronaute I walk with my head held high, really high like an astronaut
Je mate les hommes forts de cette terre se rejeter la faute And I watch powerful men of this world play the blame game
Comme une balle de tennis aux jeux olympiques As if it’s a tennis ball at the Olympic games
Avec les mains sales, ils se félicitent With their dirty hands, they congratulate each other
Et nous, on les acclame… shit! And we applaud them… shit!
[Hook] [Hook]
Trick me, trick me, trick me – till I lose control Trick me, trick me, trick me – till I lose control
Promise, promise, promise – till I give you my vote Promise, promise, promise – till I give you my vote
Trick me, trick me, trick me – till I lose control Trick me, trick me, trick me – till I lose control
Promise, promise, promise – till I give you my vote Promise, promise, promise – till I give you my vote
[Verse 2] [Verse 2] 
Le vieux-jeux reconnait le jeu des Cartesélectorales The old school recognises the game of electoral cards
Aux truffesaucune du paquet n’a autant de valeur que l’as   In truffles[1] no card has as much value as the Ace
Condamnés à l’échec, nous sommes les pions de nos rois Doomed to failure, we are pawns of our kings
Hélas ce qui compte, c’est pas qui vote mais qui compte les votes Unfortunately what counts is not who votes but who counts the votes
Pour ne pas dire “qui vole les votes” car “on les offres” It’s not that I’m saying that “they steal the votes”; we “offer them our votes”
Nos politiques, on les adule alors ils nous mènent au gouffre We worship our leaders so they drive us to the pit
Comment être aussi dupe quand l’histoire se répète en boucle How can we be so fooled when history repeats itself in a loop
La démocratie c’est “cause toujours” la dictature c’est “ferme ta gueule” Democracy means “you are free to talk” and dictatorship means “shut the fuck up”
Donc c’est par la démocratie que jurent nos dictateurs… Fuck le people So it’s in the name of democracy that our dictators swear… Fuck the people
On a été stupide de croire qu’un black à la Maison Blanche We were stupid to believe that a black man in the White House
Etait assez pour changer le décor de ce sombre continent Was enough to change the décor of this ‘Dark Continent’
On nous convint d’être des agneaux, on les crains comme des lions They convinced us that we are lambs, so we fear them as if they are lions
On leur donne nos votes, ils nous prennent nos opinions We give them our votes, they take our opinions
Saches que “dans parlement, il y a parle et ment” ~ Léon Campion But remember that “in parliament, there is talk and lies” ~ Léon Campion
[Hook] [Hook]
Trick me, trick me, trick me – till I lose control Trick me, trick me, trick me – till I lose control
Promise, promise, promise – till I give you my vote Promise, promise, promise – till I give you my vote
Trick me, trick me, trick me – till I lose control Trick me, trick me, trick me – till I lose control
Promise, promise, promise – till I give you my vote Promise, promise, promise – till I give you my vote
[Verse 3] [Verse 3] 
Que la voix des hommes sans voix empêchent les puissants de dormir May the voices of the voiceless stop the mighty ones from sleeping
Et si jamais ils dorment, que nos cauchemars les fassent gémir And if they ever fall asleep, may our nightmares haunt them
Nous sommes fatigués de mourir, laissez nos enfants vivre We are tired of dying, let our children live
Le mensonge comme l’huile flotte au dessus de la vérité Lies are like oil on the surface of the truth
Ils nous poussent vers la mort au nom de la liberté They push us towards death in the name of freedom
On s’entretue sans cause et on s’habitue à R.I.P And so we kill each other for no reason; we get used to R.I.P
Qui veut la guerre prépare la guerre, alors tous aux armes If you want war prepare for war, let’s get armed
Il y a assez de nucléaire pour réchauffer la Guerre Froide There are enough nuclear weapons to warm up the Cold War
Et fondre la terre entière au nom du pouvoir And melt the entire world in the name of power
Liberté ou main de fer, on brandit tous le poing en l’air Freedom or iron hand, we all raise our fists in the air
Ce qui est clair, c’est qu’on a rien appris d’hier What is clear is we learned nothing from yesterday
Nous ne sommes que des feuilles sur cet arbre qui est la vie We are nothing but leaves on this big tree which is life
On tombe, d’autres poussent puis donnent des fruits We fall, others grow and then give fruits
Alors à quoi bon couper l’arbre, pourquoi infecter les racines? Why try to cut down the tree, why infect the roots?
Pourquoi infecter les racines? Why infect the roots?

[1] Truffles is a Francophone card game played in Rwanda, Burundi and the DR Congo.

Entre 2 album review: Entre 2

Track 6: Entre 2 (“Between 2”)

This is the album’s middle track (track 6) and, like the album, is entitled Entre 2. Within his words, 1Key explores the “Between Two” motif, with clear examples in the hook:

“I exist between…

Birth and death

Without filter between…

Thought and speech

I live between…

Night and day

I hesitate between…

Never and forever.” (Translated from French to English)

In Entre 2, 1Key carries us into the second half of his album, which is more heavily influenced by hip-hop, and which exudes a more serious mood. The music opens with an electronic piano chord sequence, which is modified to sound like female voices and is repeated throughout the track. The chord sequence is dramatized by the click and then bang of a gunshot, over which 1Key starts to rap in French, his voice deep and his statements punchy. At the same time, the music thickens. We hear high-pitched piano notes, creating a siren effect, and then a sharp knocking sound. Next, a series of metallic rhythms are layered in, building a sense of drama as the story unravels.

DSCN3965
Kigali, Rwanda. 2016. 1Key performing Entre 2 on the #expericment. [Courtesy of the author]
This is a story about a hero and a coward. In the first verse 1Key pays homage to his Hero, a “Wise soldier armed with vocal chords/… defender of virtue”. (Translated from French to English) He says:

“You’re not this butterfly with flamboyant colours

Sailing between the winds of trends

You’re a chameleon, hooked on your own branch

You observe the world in every direction

You do not just stay there and watch these egocentric termites devour each other mercilessly

You sound the alarm but that makes you a target…” (Translated from French to English)

Within his words, 1Key reveals complex contradictions and dichotomies. While butterflies are beautiful in appearance, they are fickle and easily manipulated. On the other hand, the chameleon has qualities of a hero: he is defiant, he thinks independently, and he takes action. But he suffers for his heroism. This raises an important question: should butterflies (aka ordinary Rwandan citizens) behave more like chameleons, despite the sacrifices that would involve? And if the butterfly were to represent “Rwandan progress”, just how much substance is there? In Rwanda, conversations about politics are generally met with caution, and it is extremely rare (and potentially dangerous) to openly challenge the status quo. Having said that, the question of substance is reflective of conversations that I have had with many Kigalians. While these Rwandans are proud and optimistic about the extraordinary growth of Kigali, they also understand that rural Rwanda (home to approximately 90% of the population) is a completely different reality. Within Kigali, citizens have been witnessing the mushrooming of new, shiny buildings and expensive coffee shops, restaurants and gyms. As inequalities deepen, many people ask: “But who is this beautiful city being built for?”

Butterfly
Sourced online: http://tinyurl.com/gmpdz8d

In his termite analogy, 1Key addresses additional concerns with Rwandan society. Termites live as one, which speaks to the Rwandan Government’s policy of National Unity, an idea which is also prevalent in Rwandan popular culture. And yet 1Key’s egocentric termites devour each other mercilessly. According to 1Key, this is an honest reflection of contemporary Rwandan society (or indeed any capitalist society), where its citizens habitually exploit and take advantage of each other in their increasingly individualistic attempts to gain money and subsequently status.

In the second verse, 1Key adopts the persona of the Coward, or the ordinary citizen. He describes hypocritical smiles and friends who stab him in the back, evoking our sympathy and understanding. Simultaneously, he admits to being passive and lazy, telling us: “Nothing drives me besides alcohol, sex and drugs.” (Translated from French to English) Like the chameleon, 1Key observes his world in every direction. He certainly articulates a more intelligent and nuanced view of contemporary Rwandan society than what we are used to hearing (or reading). 1Key doesn’t want to be a commercial “copy-cat” recording artist for radio and TV. Through his art, he expresses himself, explores ideas, and heals himself (and others).

Chameleon in Tanzania
Courtesy of the author.

In many ways, 1Key is a pioneer: aesthetically, his music is original and experimental, and his lyrics are fresh and provocative. A fierce promoter of Kigali’s live music scene, 1Key essentially wants to start conversations. He told me: “It’s OK to have different opinions, but we don’t talk about them.” 1Key is aware that his art may cause controversy, telling me: “Not all Rwandans are ready for me!” Indeed, his “disobedient” character – which is untypical in Rwanda – and tendency to challenge norms, as well as his body piercings and tattoos, leaves many Rwandans bewildered. 1Key laughs this off, defiantly telling us: “You want a joke? Apparently I belong to an asylum/I write crazy stuff HAHAHAHA”. (Translated from French to English)

Entre 2 was produced by Barick at his home-studio in Kigali. Barick is featured on the hook.

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

Entre 2 (“Between 2” [Track 6 on Entre 2 album]) 

Prod. Barick (Kigali); French.

[Verse 1] [Verse 1]
Hommage à toi brave          Homage to you brave
Sage soldat armés de cordes vocales Wise soldier armed with vocal chords
Elles t’étranglent quand tu ne les utilises pas They strangle you when you do not use them
Elles tuent quand tu les utilises mal They kill you when you use them wrong
Mais toi t’as trouvé l’équilibre… Chapeau bas! But you found the balance… Hats off!
Ce couplet est une ôde pour toi, défenseur de vertu This verse is an ode to you, defender of virtue
Toi qui ne t’ai pas tu même avec la bouche cousue You did not keep quiet despite your sealed lips
Tu t’es battu malgré les mains liées You fought with your hands tied
Pour un futur où tu seras oublié For a future in which you will be forgotten
Avec ta vie t’as payé le prix R.I.P With your life you paid the price R.I.P
J’admire ton courage dans la défense de tes croyances I admire your courage in defending what you stand for
T’es pas ce papillon aux couleurs flamboyantes You’re not this butterfly with flamboyant colours
Qui vogue entre les vents des tendances Sailing between the winds of trends
T’es un caméléon, tu t’accroches sur ta branche You’re a chameleon, hooked on your own branch
Et t’observes le monde dans tous les sens You observe the world in every direction
Tu ne restes pas là à regarder ces termites égocentriques se dévorer sans merci You do not just stay there and watch these egocentric termites devour each other mercilessly
Tu sonnes l’alarme mais cela fait de toi une cible You sound the alarm but that makes you a target
Ça t’étonne pas, tu connais la musique It does not surprise you, you know the tune
Alors tu danses avec un grand sourire So you dance to it with a huge smile
On t’applaudit mais tu sais que quand tu seras parti You receive applause but you know that once you are gone
Tes écrits seront conservés dans la bibliothèque des amnésiques Your writings will be stored in the library of amnesiacs
Tes traces préservées au musée des oubliettes Your footprints preserved in a museum of the forgetful
Et ton nom restera gravé dans le vent… à jamais And your name will be engraved in the wind… forever
[Hook] [Hook]
J’existe entre… I exist between…
La naissance et la mort Birth and death
Sans filtre entre… Without filter between…
La pensee et la parole Thought and speech
Je vis entre… I live between…
La nuit et le jour Night and day
J’hésite entre… I hesitate between…
Jamais et toujours Never and forever
J’existe entre… I exist between…
La naissance et la mort Birth and death
Sans filtre entre… Without filter between…
La pensee et la parole Thought and speech
Je vis entre… I live between…
La nuit et le jour Night and day
J’hésite entre… I hesitate between…
Jamais et toujours Never and forever
[Verse 2] [Verse 2]
Hélas je ne serai jamais toi, j’ai pas ta bravoure dans ma peau Unfortunately I’ll never be you, I don’t have your bravery within me
Moi je préfère la fermer, vivre à genou que mourir debout en héros I prefer to shut it, live on my knees than die standing
Je suis le rhytme, j’attends que la Terre tourne dans l’autre sens I follow the rhythm, I’m waiting for the world to turn the other way
La vie me surprend tous les jours, me parlez pas de son essence Life surprises me every day, don’t talk to me of its essence
C’est une fine meche qui brule a petit feu… et alors? It’s a fire wick which burns a small fire… so what?
Je suis passif, hypo-sensitif, est-ce ma faute? What if I’m passive, hypo-sensitive, is it my fault?
Rien ne m’anime à part l’alcool, le sexe et la drogue Nothing drives me besides alcohol, sex and drugs
La famille? T’as vu leur regards quand t’as pas de job? Family? Have you seen their look when you don’t have a job?
Les amis? C’est eux qui te poignardent dans le dos Friends? Those are the people who stab you in the back
J’ai peur de rien surtout pas des ont-dit I fear nothing, especially what people say
Je me méfie des non-dits cachés derrière les sourires hypocrites I’m cautious of unspoken words hidden behind hypocritical smiles
Cette ère c’est notre apocalypse, rien à y faire This era is our apocalypse, there’s nothing we can do about it
Cette terre c’est le paradis et l’enfer This earth is heaven and hell
Cette vie n’est qu’un sombre tunnel, la mort, c’est en fait elle la lumière Life is just a dark tunnel, death is in fact the light
Tôt ou tard on finit tous six pieds sous terre, puis on rejoint nos ancêtres à l’etat végétatif Sooner or later we will all end six feet under, then we join our ancestors in their vegetative state
Peut être que c’est leur esprit que j’aspire, quand je tire deux coups de mon spliff Maybe it’s their spirit which I inhale, when I take two puffs from my spliff
HAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHA
[Hook] [Hook]
J’existe entre… I exist between…
La naissance et la mort Birth and death
Sans filtre entre…  Without filter between…
La pensee et la parole Thought and speech
Je vis entre… I live between…
La nuit et le jour Night and day
J’hésite entre… I hesitate between…
Jamais et toujours Never and forever
J’existe entre… I exist between…
La naissance et la mort Birth and death
Sans ilter entre…  Without filter between…
La pensee et la parole Thought and speech
Je vis entre… I live between…
La nuit et le jour Night and day
J’hésite entre… I hesitate between…
Jamais et toujours Never and forever
[Verse 3] [Verse 3]
Je suis pas suicidaire, je kiff trop la life I’m not suicidal, I love life too much
Surtout pas sédentaire, je suis à la poursuite des fun nights Especially not sedentary, I’m in pursuit of fun nights
Ce serait un drame si cette vie n’était pas une comédie It would be a tragedy if life were not a comedy
Tu veux une blague? Parait que ma place est à l’asile You want a joke? Apparently I belong in an asylum
J’écris des trucs de ouf HAHAHAHA I write crazy stuff HAHAHAHA
[Hook] [Hook]
J’existe entre… I exist between…
La naissance et la mort Birth and death
Sans filtre entre…  Without filter between…
La pensee et la parole Thought and speech
Je vis entre… I live between…
La nuit et le jour Night and day
J’hésite entre… I hesitate between…
Jamais et toujours Never and forever
J’existe entre… I exist between…
La naissance et la mort Birth and death
Sans filtre entre…  Without filter between…
La pensee et la parole Thought and speech
Je vis entre… I live between…
La nuit et le jour Night and day
J’hésite entre… I hesitate between…
Jamais et toujours Never and forever
[Instrumental] [Instrumental]
[Outro] [Outro]
Barick attends un peu… Il y a un truc que j’ai oublié de dire Barick, wait a minute… there’s something I forgot to say
En fait… In fact…
Je suis pris entre les dents comme la langue I’m caught between teeth like a tongue
En déséquilibre entre le yin et le yang  In imbalance between yin and yang