Jaja Bashengezi - African Café
Jean “Jaja” Bashengezi grew up with 10 brothers and sisters in the eastern Congolese town of Bukavu on the peaceful shores of Lake Kivu. Music was everpresent and Jaja developed into an accomplished guitarist by the time he graduated college in 1994. Unfortunately, that was the same time the Rwanda genocide began to spill over into the Congo and Bashengezi soon became a refugee in Uganda. Music proved to be his savior, and he quickly became a rising star on the Kampala music scene.
After recording his first solo album in 2002, Bashengezi began working with the Watoto Children’s Choir, which was made up of children orphaned by the AIDS epidemic. This led to international tours as a solo artist and back-up guitarist for Vieux Farka Touré and Fatoumata Diawara. Bashengezi is now based in the U.S. He credits his experience as a refugee with his ability to understand and connect with people of different backgrounds and traditions.
On the song “Ndule ,” the title track of Bashengezi’s 2017 album, he sings, “Listen to the voices / Voices of wisdom / Spoken by the elders / Songs you hear, songs you dance to / Music creates moments of joy / Music heals the sick / When it hits, you feel no pain / That’s why we celebrate it / Listen to the beautiful voice / Come, let us celebrate Africa.”