Music and poetry as a means of self-empowerment
1st December 2020, 5 pm CET
Our next histoTALK is a conversation between the musicians Joram Bejarano and Kutlu Yurtseven from the band Bejarano & Microphone Mafia and the Rwandan musician and spoken word artist Kivumbi King. Their topic is the role of poetry and music in remembering and dealing with the past. Together with Valery Schuerpflug they will talk about their work, their music and how they use language. What does music mean to them, and what role can music play in dealing with a traumatic and violent past? What is the empowering element of music, and what messages do they want to convey during their performances? Last but not least, why is it still important for young people today to look to the past when it comes to shaping the present and future? The artists have put together music videos for histoCON which are central to the conversation during this histoTALK.
This histoTALK was recorded before release and should be viewed in the context of the music videos of both artists.
Music video: Music is my weapon
In this piece, Kivumbi King explores how music enables him to deal with his and his country’s past by embracing, and learning from it. He aims to share his message of empowerment with artists everywhere and encourages each audience member to cherish their history and find an outlet of their own. This video was created in preparation for the histoTALK “Music and poetry as a means of self-empowerment”. It should be viewed in the context of this histoTALK, which brings together different perspectives to discuss the role of music and language in remembering and dealing with the past.
If you want to learn more about the commemoration of the genocide in Rwanda, you will find here an article translated into English, published by the German Federal Agency for Civic Education on April 2, 2020.
Music video: Love this life
Joram Bejarano and his mother Esther Bejarano have shared the stage with the rap band Microphone Mafia for many years. When on stage, Esther Bejarano’s roots, history and self-image as a Jewess play an important role, as do the topics of exclusion, racism, violence and war. They perform in many different languages and see their musical, cultural and personal differences as a source of enrichment. This video gives an impression of their stage appearances and readings, all of which are directed against forgetting the past and support living together in a spirit of solidarity and mutual respect.
This video was created in preparation for the histoTALK “Music and poetry as a means of self-empowerment”. It should be viewed in the context of this histoTALK, which brings together different perspectives to discuss the role of music and language in remembering and dealing with the past.
Bejarano & Microphone Mafia, Germany
Kutlu Yurtseven founded the rap band Microphone Mafia almost 30 years ago. Since then they have been making music with changing line-ups and partners from the migrant music scene. Since 2007 they have been performing together with the Auschwitz survivor Esther Bejarano and her son Joram Bejarano. In the joint performances Esther Bejarano's roots, history and self-image as a Jewess play an important role. In 1941 she was interned in the forced labour camp in Neuendorf near Fürstenwalde/Spree from where she was deported to Auschwitz in 1943. She survived Auschwitz as a musician in the camp orchestra, the “Women’s Orchestra of Auschwitz”. She has been active in the struggle against the Nazis and right-wing extremism for decades, giving public speeches, making statements, visiting schools, and playing in various music ensembles. In their joint performances Bejarano & Microphone Mafia speak out against all forms of racism, anti-Semitism, exclusion and neo-Nazism.
Copyright Hartmut Schneider
Kivumbi King was born in the Rwandan capital of Kigali in 1998. He grew up in Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi, and has been active in music and poetry since 2016. From the start he aimed to contribute to a constructive and future-oriented culture of remembrance, and to use his art to promote dialogue among youngsters in Rwanda, and beyond. Works such as “Cyacyana”, which showcases the realities of living life as a youngster outside of traditional Rwandan values, set the stage for his involvement in multiple international projects. Topics such as culture, colonialism, and what we can learn from history are central in his determination to continue using his art to address the challenges connected to Rwanda’s violent past.
Copyright Valery Scheuerpflug
Originally from Berlin, Valery Scheuerpflug spent much of his childhood in Rwanda, learning the culture and history from his perspective as the son of a German development worker. Returning to Berlin at 14, he started using music as an outlet, and as a tool to find like-minded people. After finishing high school he returned to Rwanda as a volunteer, aiming to strengthen his connection to the culture and learn the language. It was here that his love for history and art would intersect, and where he would find a great friend in Kivumbi King. The next years were spent studying sound and lighting technology in Berlin, as well as delving into videography. He is currently back in Rwanda collaborating with his friend and colleague, King.
Copyright Kivumbi King