Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Wadau wa Sanaa TZ na sokomoko la Covid-19


 By Caroline Uliwa

Wanadansi akwemo Tiko Mbepo ( mwisho kulia)
tokea Tanzania
“Yani hili janga likiisha wengine tutabidi tupimwe kisaikolojia, manake saa ingine unadhani una ugonjwa kumbe ni ‘stress’…”Remi Tone mwanamziki na mjasiriamali kwenye sekta ya muziki wa jukwani akijibu jinsi gani janga la Corona limeathiri kazi zake.
Tangu Corona itie mguu Tanzania mnamo mwezi Machi mwaka huu, sekta ya utamaduni na sanaa imeathirika kwa kiasi kikubwa. Hapa tumeongea na wadau mbali mbali kwenye sekta hii akiwemo Katibu Mtendaji wa BASATA Bw Godfrey Mngereza, na wasanii wasiopungua kumi ili kubaini hali halisi na suluhu gani zinazojitokeza kwa sekta hii kwa kipindi hiki.

Changamoto



“Ratiba yangu yote mwaka huu imetibuliwa ndani na nje ya nchi, nilikuwa natarajia kwenda kikazi mwaka huu South Afrika, Bolivia, Wingereza, Japan, Ghana na Eygpt ila mwishowe nilianza kuzoea ile barua pepe yenye ujumbe ‘Tunasikitika kukuarifu tumesitisha…” huwa nafundisha mashuleni  na kwa watu wazima ila hadi sasa hizi kazi pia zimesitishwa.” Dada Mwandale Mwanyekwa mwalimu na mkufunzi wa Sanaa ya ufundi hususani uchongaji wa vinyago alielezea.

Mwandale Mwanyekwa ama Big Mama mkali wa sanaa za ufundi TZ
Tulivyongea na Bw Robert Mwampemwa mkurugenzi wa chama cha wasanii wa ufundi ‘Tanzania Visual Artists Association’ yeye pia alishuhudia kuwa hali sio nzuri kwa wasanii wengine kwenye tasnia yake. Alisema kwa ajili sekta nyingi za uchumi zimeathirika kama vile utalii basi “Mnyororo wa uzalishaji umeathirika mno, mfikirie yule Mama Iringa anayesuka vikapu leo hii anashindwa kumuuzia yule mchukuzi aliyetoka mjini kwani yule haoni soko na vivyo hanunui kazi yake.” 
kazi ya dada Jamila Vera Swai mmoja wa
wanachama wa TFDA
Bwana Robert aliongezea kwa kusema vikundi vya uzalishaji wa hizi rasilimali za kazi za ufundi, wengi wao waliokuwa wakitoa ajira kwa vijana na watu wasiojiweza.Sasa wamebidi waachishe kazi wafanya kazi wao. Na kuwarejesha kwenye majaribio ya pombe na madawa ya kulevya.

Hili swala la kazi kukauka kwenye sekta hii lilikuwa jibu kutoka kwa wasanii wengi tuliongea nao hapa. Wengine wakiwa madansa, wanamuziki, wabunifu wa mavazi, wanafilamu. Swala la kusitishwa kwa mikusanyiko ya hadhara pia nchi ngeni kufunga mipaka yao ama kuwepo kwenye mifungo wa ndani yani ‘lockdowns’.

Kumeathiri wasanii kwa karibu kabisa “Ukisitisha matamasha, harusi, ‘kitchen party’, na hafla nyingine unaathiri biashara zetu moja kwa moja. Kwani hawa ni wateja wetu ambao wangeshona mavazi yao kwetu” Bw Ndesumbuko Merinyo mkongwe kwenye sekta ya ubunifu wa mavazi nchini, na jina la ‘Afrika Sana’; pia ni mkuu wa ‘Tanzania Fashion Designer Association-TAFDA tafda.org Alitujulisha hali halisi ya wanachama wake ndani ya tasnia hii, jinsi wanavyokabiliana na Corona. 

Aliongezea kwamba wengine wamebidi wawachishe mafundi wao kazi, kwani vyumba vya kazi walivyonavyo ni vidogo na kutokimu taratibu za kukaa mbali zinazopendekezwa kwenye kujitahadhari na Corona.
kazi ya Bw Thobias Minzi ama Minzi Mims mkufunzi na mmoja wa
wanachama wa TVAA
Madansa pia wameathirika kama mwana dansa Tiko Mbeko alivyotuarifu, yeye ni mkuu wa kikundi cha T-Africa tafricadancecrew. Na wao wamejikuta kazi zao ndani na nje ya mkoa wa Dar es Salaam zikisitishwa.
Hata sekta ya uchapishaji nayo imeathrika, “Unajua pato limepungua kwa namna kadhaa kufikia hadi asilimia 80. Ndio hiki kitabu kipya  (Development as Rebellion-Wasifu wa Mh Julius K. Nyerere) kimetoa muamko kidogo. Ila mwishowe hatutegemei mauzo ya kitabu kimoja…kwa saa kuna watu wachache mjini ambako duka letu lipo” Mkuki Bgoya wa kampuni ya uchapishaji Mkuki na Nyota, wenye duka la vitabu TPH BookStore. Alielezea jinsi sekta yake pia imechomwa na janga hili.

Nyumbani pa mkahawa wa SOMA jijni Dar es Salaam
Pia wauzaji wengine wa vitabu nao wameshuhudia kazi kuathirika vibaya na janga hili wakiwemo Soma Book Café ambao pia wamejikuta wakipunguza wafanya kazi. “Pale sehemu halisi zikisitishwa, lazima tusogoee mtandaoni ila mabadiliko hayaji kwa uraisi na yanaitaji uwekezaji.” Mama Demere Kitunga Mkurugenzi wa sehemu hii alinisaidia kuelewa jinsi upungufu wa watu kudhuru sehemu za uga wa usomji kama yake, unavyoathiri tasnia yake.
Pia aliongezea kwamba ata vile vikundi vya usomjai ndani ya shirika lake vimejikuta vikishindwa kuendelea kama kawaida. Kama vile uga wa watoto ambao ulikaribisha watoto kujisomea. Pia kikundi chao cha vitabu kinachoitwa ‘taswira’ ambacho kila mwezi huchagua vitabu vya waandishi tokea Afrika na kujisomea kisha kuvichanmbua kwa pamoja. Kwa sasa wamebidi wakutane mtandaoni na kikundi kama ‘taswira’ kimeshindwa kuagiza vitabu kupitia Soma kwa urahisi.

Suluhu


kazi ya ubuifu ya Ailinda Sawe ndani ya Afrika Sana
Japo changamoto ni nyingi kuna juhudi chanya zinazoleta matumaini toka kwa wadau wa sekta hii. Kwa kuanzia na chama cha wabunifu wa mavasi TAFDA ambao waliwakilisha TMDA-Tanzania Medicine & Medical Devices Authority’ mifano wa barakoa, kwenye taasisi hii ili kupata kibali. Ampabo saba kati yao waliweza kufikia viwango na kupewa idhini ya kutengeneza barakoa zenye viwango vya kimataifa ambazo zaweza tumiwa hadi hospitalini.

Bw Merinyo alitueleza na kuongezea kwa kuisii serikali ndani ya mfuko wake wa maafa. Kuwaangalia wabunifu hawa ambao wana uwezo wa kutengeneza nguo za kujikinga za kitaalam (PPE Suit) pale kwa idhini na TMDA. Wakipewa ruzuku ya kujikita na uzalishaji kwani wengi wao wana viwanda, wataweza kutengeneza nguo hizi pamoja na barakoa zenye ubora wa uhakika kwa bei nafuu nchini kote.  

Wanadansi nao wamekuwa wakitumia kipindi hiki kutengeneza mikanda nyongefu na kuitupa mitandaoni kama hapa  T-Africa Covid Dance. Waki isihi serikali na jamii kukumbuka kuwa tasnia yao inaweza fikisha ujumbe kikamilifu; na vivyo wakumbukwe pale wasanii wanapohitajika kusambaza ujumbe.

Kwenye tasnia ya usomaji wachapishaji wamekuwa wakitumia fursa za kutangaza waandishi na vitabu vyao mitandaoni. Tukiona waandishi wengi wakitumia muda huu kutotoa kazi za hadithi kuhusiana na kipindi hiki, wanazo zisambaza mitandaoni na kuzitangaza kupitia vipindi vya redio kama #KabatilaVitabu ndani ya boresha.online
Kwenye ulimwengu wa mziki, wanamziki wengi wamekuwa wakitoa matamasha mitandaoni. 

Mpiga guitar maarufu Norman Bikaka
aliye na uzoefu wa zaidi ya miaka 20 kwenye
fani ya muziki wa jukwaani TZ
Pia haswa wale wa bongo flava wamekuwa wakizidi tangaza kazi zao kwenye maredio na televisheni na kunyakua mirabaha kwenye mitandao kama YouTube. Japo ufadhili wa matamasha haya mitandaoni si mkubwa ila mashirika kama Alliance Francais na MTV ambao tamasha lao hivi karibuni pa siku ya Afrika duniani AfricaDayBenefitConcert lilitoa ajira kwa wasanii mbalimbali kama Diamond Platnums wa TZ. Pia kazi zilizopo kwenye  tovuti ‘streaming’ kama bandcamp zimekuwa zikiuza miziki kwa wingi, vivyo wanamziki wenye kazi zao humu wamekuwa wakipata ahweni.

Muda huu pia umewapa wasanii haswa wa mziki na filamu, kufikiria k
wa upya umuhimu wa sheria ya hakimiliki kwenye kazi zao. Kwani sasa sheria hii ilitakiwa iwawezeshe kupokea mirabaha kwa kazi zao popote zinapopigwa pa hadhira (Bar, Vyombo vya Usafiri, Redio, Televisheni, Mitandaoni n.k.). Tulipata fursa ya kumsikiliza Mkurugenzi Doreen Sinara wa COSOTA, ambaye alituarifu kati ya kipindi cha Januari hadi Juni mwaka huu, shirika lake lilitegemea kupokea mirabaha ya kufikia Tshs 336, 350,000/ toka kwa kazi za wanachama wake. 

Hadi sasa wameweza kukusanya kiasi cha Tshs 56,350,000/. Doren alisema hawategemei kufikia malengo kwani janga hili la Corona limeathiri sehemu za mikusanyiko kama vyombo vya usafiri, na sekta za huduma kama ma hoteli na bar.
Kazi za wasanii wa kazi za mikono mkoani Arusha (picha courtsey)

Kwa miaka nenda rudi vyombo vya habari Tanzania vimekuwa vikikwepa kulipa mirabaha kwa kazi za sanaa wanazorusha kwenye vipindi vyao. Japo sheria ya hakimiliki nchini copyright law No 7 of 1999 (RE 2019) inawa shindikiza kulipia kazi hizo. Mwaka huu Doreen alisema japo bado kuna changamoto kwenye ukusanyaji, COSOTA inategema hadi mwezi Juni 2020 kukusanya Tshs 51,000,000/kutoka kwa vyombo vya habari. Vivyo anawasihi wasanii kujisajili kama wanachama wa COSOTA, na pia kusajili kazi zao za sanaa wakitoa anuani zao za benki, ili waweze nufaika na mirabaha hii. Ambapo mwaka huu malipo ya nusu ya mwaka huu yatatolewa mwezi Agosti 2020.

Itakuwa jambo la busra kama janga hili litawashinikiza wasanii kuwa na umoja na kusajili kazi zao na shirika hili, ili kuhakikisha wanapata haki zao ata wasipokuwa jukwaani kama sasa. Vivyo kuwa na tabia ya kusaini mikataba ya kulinda kazi zao, swala ambalo Doreen na Bw John Kitime (msanii na muajiriwa wa awali wa COSOTA) walitueleza halizingatiwi na wasanii wengi. Shirika hili huwa linatoa miongozo ya mikataba kwa sekta mbalimbali za sanaa bure.

Bw Remitone mwanamziki na mjasiriamali kwenye tasnia ya muziki
wa jukwaani Bongo
.
Kwa kukabiliana na changamoto za janga hili, wasanii wamekuwa wakikutana mitandaoni kupitia ‘apps’ kama Zoom na kupeana ushauri. Nlipata fursa ya kushiriki kwenye mikutano rasmi kama hii miwili. Iliyofadhiliwa na CDEA-culture & Development East Africa na Unleashed Africa. Mikutano hii imekuwa ikitoa manufaa makubwa kwa kuwakutanisha wasanii na wadao wengine kwenye sekta kama Dk Emmanuel Temu Mkurugenzi wa Utamaduni na Maendeleo kwenye Wizara ya Habari, Vijana, Utamaduni na Michezo. Ambaye alipokea mirejesho kutoka kwa wasanii mbalimbali na kuahidi kuiwasilisha wizarani.

Vivyo wasanii hawa kupitia vyama vyao, wamependekeza serikali itoe ruzuku ama mikopo nafuu kwa wasanii; kuwasaidia kuwekeza kwenye kazi ndani ya kipindi hiki kigumu. Vivyo Dr Temu alisema kuwa serikali imekuwa kwenye mchakato wa kuzindua mfuko wa utamaduni wa kuwasaidia wasanii. Pia wapo kwenye mchakato wa kuandaa kanuni za kurejesha shughuli za jukwaani kwa wasanii. Hapa tulipata dondoo toka kwa Bw Mngereza tokea BASATA kwamba mnamo tarehe 28 mwezi Mei, BASATA itakaa na wakuu wa mashirikisho ya sanaa nchini na kuwasikiliza ili kujua taratibu gani iwape wizara.
Mchapishaji na Mkurugenzi wa Soma Book Cafe, Demere Kitunga
Mapendekezo ya jinsi gani ya kufungua shughuli za sanaa kwa hadhira kwa namna salama na endelevu. 

Wakuu hawa akiwemo Katibu Mkuu wa Shirikisho la Wanamziki Bw John Kitime, alisema angependa kutumia fursa hii pia kuishauri BASATA kuangalia jinsi ya kuimarisha mifumo ya vyama kwani wasanii wengi hawamo kwenye hivi vyama. Mawazo kama haya yanaungwa mkono na wasanii wengi ambao wamebaini Corona sio chanzo cha changamoto kwenye kazi zao. Ila imefichua nyufa zilizokuwepo kwenye sekta yao na vivyo  wote kwa pamoja wanawajibu wa kuimarisha sekta yao. 


Monday, 23 March 2020

Over 13,000 cultural artefacts from TZ in Germany will they return?


By Caroline Uliwa


Tanzanian dancer in the production Vinyago, body painting
by Masoud Kibwana photo by Nicholas Calvin
Ever found it fishy despite that scientifically its proven Africans are the mother race New York Times (Article) A single migration from Africa Populated the World  Access to our history a little beyond the coming of the ‘coloniser & the perpetrators of the slave trade’ is trifling to find? The answer commonly thrown at us, is our ancestors didn’t efficiently record our history, but is this true?

At a conference held in the National Museum of Tanzania headquarters in Dar es Salaam, earlier this month titled Beyond Collecting: New Ethics for Museums in Transition a wholesome answer is articulating itself. “We’ve discovered more & more, the museum as we know it isn’t a benign caring institution as it has always presented itself, caring for collections for future generations. We have realised just the extents to which its ideology of care was installed through a history of violence. How colonialism coincided with the birth of the modern museum.”- Prof Ciraj Rassool-African Program In Museum and Heritage Studies, University of Cape Town.

Prof Ciraj cited this to no dispute during a public discussion facilitated at the end of this conference. This discussion steered by Prof Ciraj, Prof Barbara Plankensteiner (Director of ‘Markk-Museum am Rothenbaum’-Germany), Dr Oswald Masebo (Department of History University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania), Mr. Johannes Ebert (General Secretary Goethe Institut, Germany) was chaired by Dr Winani Thebele (Chief Curator Botswana National Museum).

Isack Abeneko in the production Vinyago that
debuted at this conference. Photo by Nicholas Calvin
It fairs the wind of the long awaited European conscience spearheaded by the ‘restitution report 2018’ commissioned by French President Emmanuel Macron (which states an estimated 90-95% of Africa's cultural heritage is held outside of Africa). Is decidedly arriving on home turf, “I think one of the key concerns in these debates is to think afresh of what is African, about Africa’s perspective to restitution...

Last week I had the privilege to be present at the commemorations of 113 leaders of the Maji Maji War. Here I had an opportunity to hold a focus group discussion with Ngoni elders where Chief Gama was present… I asked them ‘Why are they so committed in the struggle of the return of Chief Songea’s remains?’ The first response was ‘you know what, this is not a remain! This is the ‘head’ of our ancestor.”Dr Masebo shared where he went on to add that hearing that answer led him to re-think “Is it proper as Africans to refer to the bodies or body parts which were chopped from our ancestors as ‘remains’?”

This conference pooled a healthy dose of African historical scholars coming from Rwanda, Senegal, Nigeria, Namibia, South Africa, Botswana and Tanzania with key Museum experts from the U.K and Germany. So as Dr Masebo reiterated it’s the hope that the results from the conference right from its minutes, will give Tanzania and other African countries distinct results in the road to restitution.

A dancer in the production Vinyago, wearing a historical
mask from East Africa. Photo by Nicholas Calvin
“One good thing to come out of this conference is that now some museum stakeholders from Germany are openly citing that they have Tanzanian artefacts in their archives. In the past you would ask and receive no answer.”National Museum of Tanzania Director Mr Achilles Bufure shed light on what key point his office took from this conference.

Indeed at the public discussion Prof Plankensteiner confirmed. “Our Secretary of Culture has said that he would support restitution of objects, works that have been illegally taken...I cannot tell you how long it will take its a procedure” She added when asked the number of artefacts held in museums in Germany from Tanzania. “It’s again hard to say for my museum, but I worked for a long time in Austria at the Weltmuseum Wien, there you’ll find approximately 3,000 objects from Tanzania.” In this conference other experts confirmed an additional 11,100 plus objects from Tanzania residing in other institutions in Germany to include Human body parts.

Mr Bufure informed us that the National Museum of Tanzania as of last year received an order from the Ministry of Natural Resources & Tourism, which it is under. To formally start processes for claiming national restitution of artefacts lost during colonial rule. “We have been forming a committee and there are some procedures. But again we cannot do it on our own, there are some other stakeholders who we have got to contact, to discuss together so as to take it to the national level status.” Mr. Achilles Bufure.

The dancers performing the debut production'Vinyago'
at the National Museum of TZ earlier this month
This ‘we cannot do it on our own’ was expanded as part of the challenges museums face in this provenance research in Africa. It was pointed out that most museums in Africa unlike their counterparts in Europe are under the state. This is mostly a bad thing as the funds it allocates to these institutions mostly depend on the executive’s political agenda. As well a lack of clear national policies is what is disabling regional bodies and ultimately the African Union, to articulate a clear cry from the continent on the return of these artefacts.

“If each African government came up with her own position they may take that position to its regional body. Like the East African Community (EAC), ECOWAS, SADC then a possibility exists for restitution to be a key agenda in each of the regional bodies. I think if we have that process then it’s possible to have the African Union taking a central position in this agenda.” Dr Masebo.

It wasn’t all tensions between the global south & west from these archival experts, as one theme unified them all. Articulated aptly by Prof Ciraj in his statement “We have challenges on how to hold on to independence, how to ensure that museums are spaces of public articulation and public debate as the primary purpose. So that citizenship isn’t a domain of instruction but citizenship is a domain of independent social criticism.”

He was joined by Prof Barbara who shared it starts with telling it like it is, as steps to remedy this from the West. “Ethnographic Museum, itself in name is a bad idea, as it is a colonial concept...under a colonial framework in which all items that aren’t European are categorised as ethnographic, seen as just this one people!”

She confessed that this is giving them serious challenges; as it wasn’t historians who mostly brought these artworks (mostly army officials). This means their inscriptions are hardly correct, “So for European collections, what is very relevant aspect is transparency and access to these collections. It might seem very slow the process but I think many institutions in this provenance research are improving documentation. For our example we have to create a new storage facility, we have to work on our database and make it go online; we have to finish our inventory. We’re working very hard on that and sometimes this is not visible. “Prof Barbara Plankensteiner.

It was generally agreed by members of museums/cultural institutions from Europe present. that their archives of African artefacts are to be made public. As well that processes of returning human body parts should be expedited particularly for cases like the Ngoni & descendants of Chief Mangi Meli in Tanzania.

This conference was sponsored by the Goethe Institut, Markk-Museum am Rothenbaum in Hamburg, the German Federal Office, with sincere efforts from Berlin Postkolonial e.v. an organisation founded by Tanzanian Engineer residing in Germany Mnyaka Sururu Mboro, with the support of the National Museum of Tanzania.

The conference intentionally came alongside the debut of a theatre production called Vinyago by Tanzanian artists to include dancers, musicians, painters, photographers & video-graphers. The production is part of an ongoing project that is working to sensitise the public in Tanzania & Europe on the nuances of restitution. In the photos here, the masks are all sourced from East Africa dating back to the late 19th C.


This article was first published in The East African Newspaper with this link https://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/magazine/Will-Chief-Songea-head-come-home/434746-5498638-2g4p62/index.html

Thursday, 12 March 2020

Sauti za Busara 2020-Shining light on authentic East African music


By Caroline Uliwa


Sinaubi Band members (family)
playing the Zeze & Irimba photo by Rashde Fidigo
When a musician is seasoned its though their instrument is an extension of their body, they bend it at will; producing careful notes aimed straight for the soul using that universal language-music. Attending three events from last month’s annual festival Sauti za Busara had me witnessing such musicians.

The theme for the festival this year was ‘love live music’, a political statement to the music industry in the region, particularly in Tanzania. As mainstream air waves hardly cover musicians like the acts featured in this festival, one can easily see globalisation & the continents sordid past of abuse as culprits.

Member of Sinaubi's band playing Gogo tribal drums-Rashde Fidigo
“Indigenous  communities  around  the  world  are  constantly  struggling  to  maintain  …their traditions…in  a  system  still  dominated  by  a  western  worldview.  They  face  the challenge  of  living  in  two  worlds,  the  indigenous  and  the  non-indigenous  one,  in  constant  tension  with each other, with the latter having more power in shaping the former.”-UNESCO paper 2016 -Indigenous knowledge and implications for the sustainable development agenda

Interacting with various live musicians in the region, you’ll notice those with music rooted in East African traditions, are rigorously geared to work outside the country. As unlike the Swahili saying ‘mcheza kwao hutunzwa’ they find it torturous to break ground in home markets. “It’s my first time performing as a solo artist on this festival; I’ve always wanted to have my music play here. This is a platform with international networks in music, where live music is played at international standards.”Emmanuel Mopao of ‘Mopao Swahili Jazz’ shares his enthusiasm at featuring in this festival.

Mamy Kanoute and seasoned Kora player Noumoucounda-Senegal photo
courtsey
Witnessing him first at a pre-concert show sponsored by the Goethe Institut at their residence in Dar es Salaam; then in Zanzibar at the festival; was to see a man in his element. Emma has over 13 years experience playing live music circuits in Tanzania. Last year he launched his own album Taswira MopaoSwahiliJazz About in a genre he calls ‘Swahili Jazz’ his set is unique in that on stage he is the man with the lead electric guitar not the lead singer.  To a full house in Zanzibar he had the crowd begging for more, we were honestly hypnotized by his music.

It was wise words from Carola Kinasha the MC for the pre-concert show at the Goethe Institut that had me inspired to write this article. Herself a musician and an MC for the festival for over 7 years, she told us that presently that there are over 25 Tanzanian music instruments, which aren’t played or known in mainstream music platformsCarola KInasha mkereketwa wa haki za Wasanii TZ.

Emma Mopao (Hat with Guitar) and his band of Mopao Jazz
serenadinga  full house at the Ampi Theatre in ZNZ inside
the festival
You see back in 1987-1989 she participated in a research spearheaded by independent musicians from different bands/groups of the time. Including John Kitime, David Marama, Teddy Mbarasa, Abraham Kapinga (Tanzanite) and herself, the project was called ‘Watafiti’ sponsored by the Netherlands Embassy.

“You remember when ‘yeke yeke’ came out it was a popular song; they used the Kora but it became an international hit. This was the era of Miriam Makheba, Manou Gallo looking back we as (Tanzanian) musicians had few options; we either played in a hotel or joined the ‘dance music circuit’. These music icons inspired us to find other options.” Carola ascertains.

Thais Diarra at Sauti za Busara 2020 photo by Rashde Fidgo
Watafiti had them travelling to many regions of Tanzania finding unknown music instruments from various tribes. Some have since stopped being made, “In Kigoma region we were told of a very heavy drum used as well to gather villagers now it’s not made any more…we finally went to Zimbabwe where we met Mtukudzi back then he wasn’t known...” Carola revealed the project manifested an album that went on to strengthen careers of legendary bands in Tanzania like TatuNane. She as well told us their research revealed that Dodoma was the region with the most instruments, sharing that they have enough instruments to qualify for an orchestra.

We saw a slice of this when Sinaubi Zawose & the Spirit group stepped on stage, the band had only the drum-set as a foreign instrument the rest to include Zeze Kubwa. A Kora like instrument were all native to East Africa, their music had the audience quickly looping in mduara fashion. Inhibitions were shed as different races, tribes & nationalities found connection to song. Sinaubi Zawose Sauti za Busara 2020.

Sinaubi Zawose & his band shining light on TZ
indigienous instruments by Rashde Fidigo
They were other acts in this festival that had that humbling sound, dating millennia on the continent in their use of several traditional African instruments. Among them was Mamy Kanoute, a seasoned musician from Senegal; she was among the artists featured in the movie Black Panther’s soundtrack with Baaba Maal. She has toured with Baaba for many years, as well performing with big artists like Youssou N’dour. Mamy Kanoute bio

“I have been singing since I was six years old, I am from a big griot family. It’s though I never learned music for I was born into it, it’s in my blood.” Mamy Kanoute 36, tells me in French with her co-star from Senegal Thaïs Diarra translating. Mamy Kanoute’s performance at the festival was lilting, her sound has that West African signature but her female vocals set her apart, she has a pair of pipes that will grip you the minute she opens her mouth.

She had this to say of the movement of contemporary African music worldwide “In Senegal musicians are respected for playing traditional music; I would advice other African musicians to stay true to their roots. You can make some fusion but remember where you’re from. I look up to musicians like Youssou N’dour, Cheikh Lô, Salif Keita they are taking traditional music from Africa but making it modern…”

In another pre-concert event to the festival sponsored by the Alliance Francais in Dar es Salaam. I witnessed Thaïs Diarra & Noumoucounda both share Senegalese roots but Thaïs is as well from Mali. Thais & Noumoucounda on stage Their performance together was special; Noumoucounda is a beast on the Kora. The two were part of a workshop inviting other Tanzanian artists working with traditional music instruments to include Wamwiduka Band. It was here that Noumoucounda’s prowess with the Kora shone, he blended that instrument to Afro-Pop, Afro-Reggae and Afro Soul with such ease it was uncanny.

Mopao Swahili Jazz doing their thing at this years festival
There were other musicians that lit the stage including Kenya’s own Ambassa Mandela & the Last Tribe Ambasa Mandela info. Their stage presence led by Ambassa just gripped you from go, their music with slews of Afro-Rock was refreshing. Where Ambassa’s conscious lyrics bonded strangers, rendering meat to the meaning of the festival’s name- Sounds of Wisdom.

Another musician that shone in this festival was Chudo, a percussionist with Ze Spirit Band of Bagamoyo. On this festival he performed for other acts to include Mopao Jazz, Mamy Kanoute and two others. His cuts on the Djembe accompanied by the Mtonya drum from East Africa (Tanzania/Mozambique) had the crowd ablaze in his solos.

Ambasa Mandela at Sauti za Busara 2020 photo by March Ngotonie
This year the festival pulled up to 8,000 people each day from the 13th-16th of Feb, this from across Africa and several continents. With live musicians representing Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Mali, Morocco, Algeria, and Mauritius.

Speaking with the festival director on the responsibility the festival is shouldering of highlighting live authentic East African musicians. “This is partly why this year we had the theme ‘love live music’…I travel a lot and I think this is a problem not just in Tanzania but across the continent. The music that is continuously on rotation on most platforms in Tanzania is so narrow in scope. And the stakeholders here will claim to be giving people what they want. Well Sauti za Busara is showing that actually they’re not. They are not representing what people want, just continuing the status quo…“Yusuf Mahmoud -Festival Director.
Member of Sinaubi Zawose's band at Sauti za Busara photo by Rashde Fidgo
To further stamp his point he shared that despite the lack of a big headlining artist for this year’s festival; still the numbers proved sufficient interest thanks to the location & hospitality of the Zanzibarian people as well “I think there’s an awareness amongst Tanzanians, Kenyans, South Africans and International visitors, they’ve come to trust that ok, they may not have heard of many of the artists in the lineup but they know they’re going to see some real gems…”

True to form the festival is spear heading a new generation of live East African musicians like Siti & The Band, Apio Moro, Wakazi, Mapanya Band all who featured this year and have an inspiring body of work. For more information on these artists visit the festival’s website http://www.busaramusic.org

This article was first published in The East African Newspaper with this link https://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/magazine/Sauti-za-Busara-authentically-East-African/434746-5481326-gowy4hz/index.html

Monday, 2 March 2020

The Book أنا قادم من العودة’ Questions of Origin


By Caroline Uliwa


Illustration by Mosab Zkaria as found
in SAWTI's Zine-'Natoka Kurudi'
They are etchings on paper that stir the soul, that delicately conjure to prick your psyche to a validated stance. It fairs this is the intention with this Zine from project SAWTI titled ‘I come from Returning’. In it is a bunch of poems, illustrations, photographs even letters & an interview; all from East Africans in Sudan, Somalia, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Rwanda and the Diaspora.

“I come from dirt & to dirt I shall return, which is to say, every step I take is an ode to a finite feeling a reminder to humble my spine & memorize the way back...” Excerpt from ‘Questions of Origin’ a poem by Daad Sharfi found in this publication.

SAWTI is a project supported by the British Council since last year; it ran a poetry prize whose winners are featured in this book. As well it sent a call to photographers, illustrators, to hand in their works, those selected have their works in this book too.

The poem ‘questions of origin’ which is prefixed in the foreword, shares the crux of ‘Natoka Kurudi/I come from Returning’. A book that comes off as a diary from ideally a bunch of East Africans who say studied together or worship together. Alas no they do not or have not, which is an endearing thing. As their works here flow beautifully introducing a refreshing identity of East Africa.

‘I come from Returning’ takes an intimate look at what we hold on to in deciphering the landscape called home. “The question of who do we return to when visiting a ‘home’? Often coupled with ‘Who do we leave behind when creating one elsewhere?’ Re-location, not solely in the context of the diaspora but also from rural to urban, from where your language/dialect is a majority to forming new bonds with new vocabulary that often still feels insufficient-these are the voices we champion.”- As written in the foreword of ‘Natoka Kurudi’.

An illustration as found in SAWTI's Zine 'أنا قادم من العودة'
by Elaf Abdal Wahab 
There are some real literary gems in this book like the poem by Safia Elhilo titled ‘from GIRLS THAT NEVER DIE’-“I wash my name of its every tyranny      its purity | & wrap it tight about myself             my body | is ancient      is mine & hers & hers before | fallen like milkteeth only to grow eternal” The work stains necessary affirmations for convictions of feminine worth.

Then they are candid rumblings of notable figures like the acclaimed author Sulaiman Addonia from Eritrea/Ethiopia who is captured in the book via an interview. “I think I am made of memories – in the way that my body is made up of 70% water. Memories are incredibly important to me. I lived without my family for such a long time, that memory binds me to people that I have lost, to the love I knew I could have had.”Sulaiman answers a question by writer Hibaq Farah

In ‘Natoka Kurudi’ you will bump into refreshing illustrations capturing vivid figures steeped in culture from East Africa, like the illustration on the cover of a woman in tribal wear from Sudan by Mosab Zkaria. There are works of emerging cinematic photographers like Calvin Kulaya to experienced photojournalists like Mwanzo Milinga.

What as well makes the book authentically East African is its use of the three major languages of the region to include English, Kiswahili & Arabic. We also get a close look into the voices of Sudan, a country which has made headlines of civil unrest. Yet here we get to hear voices that are rational and seasoned with humanity. “I’m following the SPA, | who are part of the FFC, | that are negotiating with the TMC | who’s being pressured by the RSF | because of influence from KSA and MBS | not to mention the UAE and President CC…We lost our leverage, our blood flowing in the Nile like a beverage.”-Dear AZZA by Osman Salih (2/2/19 part of a letter series).

The book cover of 'I come from Returning'
SAWTI's debut Zine the cover
illustration is by Mosab Zkaria
 As I finished the book I felt a healthy dose of that stirring of the soul, a sufficient pricking of my psyche, to cause me to validate my East African stance. I will caution however that the ambition in pooling together photographers, poets, etc. Is yet to achieve its intended finesse; as some contributors were too good compared to others dampening ones pace in enjoying the book. 

As well the placement of picture & words though placed with great care was a tad messy. In the next edition, as the fine artists are many perhaps their works can feature in the middle page to page. Then one illustrator can accompany the writers all round the book.


Still the book is definitely a must have for any East African, in these last couple of weeks it has been officially launched in London, Zanzibar and Khartoum. It is available online via SAWTI’s website https://sawti.co.uk/zine/. The book was published in the U.K with the sponsorship of the British Council.


This article was first published in The East African newspaper with this online 

Saturday, 22 February 2020

SAWTI launches its debut Zine in ZNZ



From Left Sabra Ali Amran and Ngollo Mlengeya
as captured at the launch
of SAWTI's 'Natoka Kurudi in ZNZ
.
The venue with its thick wistful walls, made of coral stone going back centuries lulled our ascent via steep steps, onto a big terrace overlooking the port of Old Stone Town in Zanzibar. This during the sunset hour inside the DCMA-Zanzibar Dhow Music Academy residence; the sun’s halo gave a lush ambience. Which soon pulled a humble crowd in the adjoining room to an occasion served open to the public in Zanzibar.

On this evening of the 15th of Feb 2020, we were there to witness the launch of a Zine (a small circulation work published independently), the first of its kind from SAWTI. A project supported by the ‘British Council’s East Africa Arts’ Program since last year. The Zine was launched in London last week and this week it was launched in Sudan.

“This is bigger than I expected one of my colleagues in the project from the British Council thought so too, when he saw a copy of the Zine he said ‘This is a book, this is a whole book!’”Sumia Jaama project founder and director of SAWTI, shares her excitement at the launch of the Zine titled ‘I come from returning’/ ‘Natoka Kurudi’ with another title in Arabic meaning the same thing.

It was the way she spoke with animated eyes when she talked of her art, a commitment to her craft glued to the words leaving her pursed lips. “I felt very pleased to be shortlisted in this competition, the poetry I submitted for the same. Took three topics, in the first one I delved into old Taarab music, music that was soothing to the soul. 

Sabra Ali Amran reading her poetry at the launch of SAWTI's
debut Zine-I come from Returning in ZNZ, Tanzania
My second poem took the scene of ‘barazani’ in Zanzibar, I think this spells home for many of us in East Africa. The man who sells ‘kahawa na kashata’, the healthy arguments/discussions, the ‘bao’ board games at the veranda. My last poem looks at our values. In it I reminisce of the holy month of Ramadan, how in our customs past we easily invited passersby’s to the veranda to break-fast with us, instead of letting them walk all the way home for the same.” Sabra Ali Amran 56, animatedly shares with us of her work some of which is found in this SAWTI debut Zine-I come from Returning.

SAWTI last year held a poetry competition inviting entries in Kiswahili, Arabic and English from applicants all over East Africa as well East Africans living in the Diaspora. Sabra was among the top three winners in the Kiswahili poetry prize. She is a self published author of two books Tabasamu la Huba and Sikitiko, she is as well an actress who has appeared in these films Kisasi cha Utata, Eda, Ramadhani Kareem and Boxera na Kaundime.

On this night Sabra was among the guests of honour, she recited some of her poetry with her whole family there to support her. Including her husband and her two grown kids Nadya and Nawaal, the woman though in her fifties is a bundle of energy a true testament that it’s never too late to follow your dreams.

Another guest of honour for the evening was Ngollo Mlengeya 30, in the SAWTI poetry prize 2019 she was the winner for the Kiswahili prize taking home 500 GBP. A quiet soul, wife and mother of two, she is an administrator by day with a Bachelor degree in Business Administration. Her passion for poetry was nurtured when she met a group of like minded poets in Dar es Salaam, this inside Soma Book Café; the group is called WAKA poets TZ.

Ngollo as well for the night took to the front of the room and shared her poems. This one took the audience on a joy ride as cheers were heard mid stream. “Neno kiganjani likatulizwa, mashushu wakalidaka na kulinasa| Neno kwenye gazeti likatwaa na likauza balaa | Neno tulia tuli humtoa nyoka pangoni | Si kwa nguvu wala shwari, mwenyewe hukongwa moyoni…’Mbwa we’| Ka we mama, si umempata mwenyewe | Neno kali kumtamkia badala ya tabia kumfunzia |Nini kumtabiria mtoto shela jeusi kumfunikia.” 

As Ngollo recited this poem she did it justice as she performed it in tone and gestures. Ngollo when quizzed on her winning poem ‘Bahari’ which is published in this Zine. 

‘Sauti ya utulivu ikanijia |Tulia, achilia, tulia achilia...|Naachilia majonzi ndani ya moyo wangu|Naachilia watu niliowafunga kifuani kwangu|Naachilia mitazamo ya akili yangu |Naachilia matarajio yangu| Natulia, Naachilia’ –The poem ‘Bahari’, Ngollo explains began as her love letter to the sea but soon turned into an introspective journey into the lesson of surrender.

SAWTI’s debut Zine shares works of various other talented poets, animators, photographers, writers, all from East Africa. Including our own legendary poet the late Haji Gora his poem ‘Moto wa Dunia’ can be found in this Zine. It was important for the team behind the SAWTI project to honour the languages spoken widely in East Africa, hence the publication being in three languages with no translations of individual works.


“Primarily for me it was important to a) work around local languages and b) work with artists who are local to those languages and have their work celebrated…I think it’s extremely important to know, though it might be difficult to work across different languages. It’s only barriers that we create for ourselves rather than blaming language, to be the thing that cuts us off from understanding each other. I mean I don’t speak Kiswahili but uhmn it was important for me to have those who do be part of the launch.” Sumia Jaama, SAWTI director affirms, she is a native Somalian who was raised in Europe and now works in England.

This publication ‘Natoka Kurudi’ can be found on SAWTI’s website sawti.co.uk a website that was designed by Tanzanians. Having gone through the book and witnessed the process that selected the winners for its poetry prize last year. Which included workshops offered to the applicants that were held in Zanzibar, Dar es Salaam as well London and Khartoum. 

I can vouch that the project has placed an important record in our history. With a theme that is unifying as taken from the Zine’s introductory note “Focusing less on the typical and complex question of ‘Where are you from ‘to ‘Who /What do you return to?’…memory transcended through references of a familiar sound or smell. Be it Haboaba’s voice, or the renowned chips mayai, or a sea horn signaling a ship approaching, or the adhan, or a gang of them simultaneously…”

Photos by Iddy Mwema

This article was first published in The DailyNews paper on Thursday with this link SAWTIi Launches debut Anthology in ZNZ