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„Kaay ñu wëy“ in Senegal
“Come, let’s sing!”

Five of the 16 participants during the video shoot for “Kaay ñu wëy”
Five of the 16 participants during the video shoot for “Kaay ñu wëy” | Photo (detail): © Seydina Ousmane Boye (all rights reserved, Goethe-Institut Dakar)

Sing, make music, dance and learn German together. That’s what the PASCH school Lycée Valdiodio Ndiaye, the Goethe-Institut Dakar and 16 talented young people have achieved. The result: their song “Kaay ñu wëy”.

By Heike Roch

Young people from different regions of Senegal who are learning German experienced a memorable weekend: a workshop with intensive vocal, dance and music-making sessions in the hotel “le Phénix” in Somone, directly on the Atlantic coast. 16 talented young people, accompanied by popular Senegalese stars Bril and OMG, produced their own song. The title “l’unité” (English: unity) is a harmonious fusion of German lyrics and the main Senegalese language of Wolof. “Kaay ñu wëy” means “Come, let’s sing”, meaning a sense of community and social cohesion. The overwhelming result: a professional music video. The day after it was posted, the song had received 2.000 views on YouTube. Four weeks later, this increased to almost 10.000. Everyone was delighted!

The project “Kaay ñu wëy” was originally conceived by a German teacher at the PASCH School Lycée Valdiodio Ndiaye in Kaolack. It is a PASCH school with special links to Germany via the worldwide PASCH Initiative “Schools: Partners of the Future”.
Djibril Thiam had the idea of writing a song with his German-learning pupils. Music motivates. He combined the musical passion of his pupils with the German language. Martin Pockrandt, an expert in German teaching at the Goethe-Institut Dakar, developed these ideas further with his team. He engaged two popular Senegalese stars: the rapper OMG and the singer/producer Bril as well as the internationally renowned vocal trainer Frank Gaëtan Epo-Sosso. They formed a jury to select the 16 most talented candidates from an array of young Senegalese, who had taken part in the “Kaay ñu wëy” project call in April 2021. Some of the application videos really inspired the jury. Talented youngsters from all over Senegal who are learning German applied as singers, instrumentalists and dancers. “I applied because I love and really care about this project. I never imagined that I would be selected.” Marietou Sow from Linguère is really looking forward to it.

Everything begins with a two-day online workshop. The candidates get to know each other at last. Intuitively they agree on a common theme: “l’unité”. The song represents the bonds between the two countries and the different Senegalese cultures.

Participants in the hotel “le Phénix”, where the song was recorded and the video shoot took place. Participants in the hotel “le Phénix”, where the song was recorded and the video shoot took place. | Photo (detail): © Seydina Ousmane Boye (all rights reserved, Goethe-Institut Dakar)
The atmosphere is perfect from the moment everyone arrives at “le Phénix” hotel. Everyone interacts in a direct, warm-hearted and impartial way. After three intensive days, the song is recorded in the recording studio. The highpoint: when superstars OMG and Bril arrive. The individual teams get started. The soloists and musicians use the tips and tricks they have just learned with concentrated passion. The singers are able to perform the German refrain without accent. Then they feverishly await the final stage. Hair and make-up artists, photographers, a film team for the “behind-the-scenes” video accompany the production of the official music video. The takes: the lagoon, the beach, the go-kart track, a ruin by the sea, the hotel, the Baobab Forest. The up-and-coming talents stand in front of the camera with their stars, singing and dancing.

On the morning of departure, the good atmosphere is tinged with an air of nostalgia. Tears are flowing: because it’s time to say goodbye, because of the time spent together, new friendships, the feeling of togetherness working on a joint project. It is their song. “Kaay ñu wëy” – “Come, let’s sing”:

Wir zusammen, stark, für immer, wir beisammen, füreinander da.

(Us together, strong for ever; us together, there for each other.)

Song “Kaay ñu wëy”

„Kaay ñu wëy“ | Video: Goethe-Institut Dakar, PASCH-Schule Lycée Valdiodio Ndiaye