Green Ferry Music artistes release Genocide commemoration song

CLOCKWISE: Nganji On The Beat, Prime Mazimpaka, Weya Viatora, and Ice Nova at The New Times head office yesterday. Nadège Imbabazi.

When the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi unfolded Prime Mazimpaka, Ice Nova and Weya Viatora were not yet born.

The three are the voices behind Icumu n’Ingabo, a tear-jerking song in memory of Genocide victims. 

Even the song’s producer, 27-year-old Dominique Ngabonziza, aka Nganji On The Beat, was barely three years old at the time of the Genocide.

Nganji produced the audio for Icumu n’Ingabo at Green Ferry Music, a fast-rising music label based in Kicukiro, Kigali, and to which the three upcoming musicians are affiliated. 

The song’s audio and video were released concurrently on Saturday to coincide with the official start of the Genocide commemoration week, and is already enjoying ample airplay and views on YouTube.

Icumu n’Ingabo is Kinyarwanda for spear and shield.

“It (the song) was Weya’s idea. She reached out to me and said she wanted to do a song for this particular time, and I came up with the concept of Icumu n’Ingabo,” said Prime Mazimpaka (real name Mazimpaka Che Guevara).

“The spear stands for the force, energy and willingness of people, because a spear in war is the one that fights. When we were thinking of this song, we were looking at us – our generation – and how we think now, how we understand our history,” said the 23-year old.

“As young Rwandans today, we are the energy, the drive. Back in the day the spear was the youth – they were the ones that were used to perpetuate killings. The spear of today is about us building and working together. The shield is our history – the stories and events of our past – both bad and good. Being our history, it’s what makes us who we are, so it’s our shield,” he added.

Asked what inspired her to pen the song, Weya Viatora, 22,  said: “Our history is something bad that happened, but something that we can learn from. So, in a way, our history protects us and our identity because we know where we are coming from and we don’t want to go back there. That is the shield that protects us and that we also have to protect.”

In her verse, Weya sings about the years of hatred it took before Rwandans could find common love. 

“When you’ve been unloved before, that’s when you appreciate love and never take it for granted.”

Weya credits Prime Mazimpaka for introducing her to Green Ferry Music, which the latter describes as “a small music label based in Kicukiro with mostly youthful, post-Genocide generation artistes doing different genres of music.” 

We work as a community with one producer to create music which has meaning, which reflects our identity and where we are from, Mazimpaka said.

Nganji On The Beat, who produced the song, said it’s a step in the right direction for Green Ferry Music, the music label and studio he created three years ago.

“It (Green Ferry Music) was my project from the start. I have invested a lot in it. The idea when I was beginning was to bring the young generation of talented Rwandan artistes to work together.”

Olivier Ishimwe, aka Ice Nova, 22, who delivers Kinyarwanda rap verses in the song, said: “I have been doing music for a long time, but there was no studio to work with and no manager until I met Nganji who invited me to work with him. Luckily, I already had a couple of songs written down, so we just started recording.”


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