Nzaza, an intercultural music project

Nzaza (translated to mean, ‘I will come’) is an intercultural music project that was initiated by Claudine Ndimbira, aka Shenge, a Rwandan female filmmaker and musician.

It is a collaborative effort between eleven artists from nine different nationalities.

Recorded at the prestigious Music Temple Studios in Germany, the project was made possible through cooperation between the German film school, Film Akademie Baden Wuttemberg, and Pop Akademie Mannheim, a music school also located in Germany.

The song features artistes from Rwanda, Germany, Bulgaria, Russia, Brazil, Egypt, USA, Syria, and Turkey.

“When you come to my home

I will take you to Gicumbi

To show you my father and mother

I will take you to Gisagara

To show you my maternal aunt Bujeniya …,” goes the song’s opening lines,sung by Ndimbira Shenge.

“The idea behind the song is to show music as a universal language, to be connected using music, because no matter where we come from, in the end, we all are one,” said Shenge. 

Shenge (left), in studio with other artistes for Nzaza project./Courtesy.

“I always wanted to make a song with people from different places and cultures, so that we include that richness in one song. When I was in Germany it was a good opportunity for that,” he added.

Shenge said the idea for the song dates back to 2017, when she joined the Film Akademie Baden Wuttemberg in Germany as one of that year’s international class students from across the globe. At the end of the five month programme, each student was expected to come up with a creative project.

Incidentally around this time, her school was seeking collaboration with the Pop Akademie music school:“That was the perfect opportunity I was waiting for,” she revealed. Hers was the only project created through the collaboration.

Although the Film Akademie Baden Wuttemberg funded the project, all the musicians participated for free.

Asked what inspired the song, she explained: “I was in Paris visiting my uncle for holidays. I spent time with my cousins, which was very priceless to me. After that I started thinking about how borders stop us from doing what we want to do, but mostly stop us from seeing our loved ones like family, friends, and new people.

I started to compose the words of the chorus and my verse together with my cousins (they don’t speak Kinyarwanda). It started as a conversation that I had with them, asking them if they will come to visit if I invite them. I wrote the words and started teaching them how to sing in Kinyarwanda. After that I was very sure that the topic should be inviting someone to my home. It was a simple message but very important to me. I recorded our small rehearsal with my cousins and the other musicians loved the topic. The way I composed the melody was in the Rwandan traditional style. They requested for a finished song in the same style. I gave them two songs, Ijabo and Nzishima in the genre, and the drummer started rehearsing.”

She added: “I can say that Andreas (drums), Heiko Duffner (solo and bass guitars), Tayfun Ates (percussion), and Max Christensen (producer) are the ones who made the strong foundation, and others joined later to make the song even better.”

Other artistes on the project include, Robert Schippers, Leah Jean Griffith, Hozan Temburwan, Bernhard Vanecek, Maram El Dsoki, Paul Stoltze, and Nawar Habil.

“It was tough for me, making a song in another city, singing, managing the filming team, directing and producing –it was too much for one person. But after screening the project in front of a big audience at school, and seeing their positive reaction, I was feeling so good, and proud of everyone that made the project possible,” said Shenge.

“While recording, I had to bring my film team to capture every single moment, because the project was not just a song but also a documentary that shows the whole journey of making it,” he added. 

On juggling filmmaking and music, Shenge said: “I think I have found a balance now of making both films and music, but of course film comes first for now as a profession. I love doing films. It is another way of telling stories, just like music. Telling stories is what I wanted the most no matter which way. So making films took over somehow, but I never gave up on music which is my first love.”

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