Tanzanian “Oya Theatre Group” wins 5th Interregional Music Crossroads Festival

Brussels, Belgium – For the second year running Dar Es Salaam, the bustling
Tanzanian seaport by the Indian Ocean, hosted the Music Crossroads Interregional
Festival – the fifth annual showcase of Southern Africa’s best young bands that
took place from 22-25th January 2004.

The festival kicked off with the national Tanzanian finals on 22nd and 23rd
January, followed by the actual competition on 24th January on the “Mnazi Mmoja”
grounds, and a grand finale open-air concert on the “Slipway” beachfront on 25th
January. Parallel to the competition, the musicians attended workshops specially
catered for their interests, on Communication and Emotions, Voice Warm-up,
Instruments and HIV/AIDS. Bands full of talent and energy from Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Tanzania and,
for the first time, from Zambia, all previously selected through national
finals, competed for the prizes that included tours, live performances on the
radio, studio time and musical instruments. The Oya Theatre Group (photo) from
Tanzania won first prize – a European tour and the opportunity to take part in
the Sounds of Wisdom Swahili Music Festival in Zanzibar that took place from
13th-15th February. Oya is an acronym for “Opportunities for Young Artists”, and
the band’s very visual act is based on traditional Swahili rhythms and dance.
Traditional drums, steel pan drums, marimbas and shakers are the ingredients of
their music, however more instruments will be added for the European tour. The
jury was impressed by their outstanding energetic performance. Stig Asp, Music
Crossroads Project Director, said: “They really explode on stage!” The
members of the band, five boys and two girls, are aged between 17 and 21.

The three-piece hip-hop act Man Nok Man Kill, also from Tanzania, was another
favorite of the jury. They won recording software and the chance to make a
professional demo recording. Individual prizes (instruments) were rewarded to
members of Gwindingwi Rine Shumba (Zimbabwe), the Crucial Lions (Zambia) and the
Rare Roses (Zambia). Exceptional band members from Gwindingwi Rine Shumba and
the DCMA Taarab Orchestra (Zanzibar, Tanzania) will take part in the Swedish
Ethno camp.

After previous Interregional festivals in Harare (ZIM), Maputo (MOZ) and Dar es
Salaam (TZ), JMI has decided to hold next year’s event in Malawi in January

Dag Franzén, Secretary General of JMI, commented “We tend to be modest within
the Jeunesses Musicales network but after hearing from independent sources that
Music Crossroads is not only the largest youth empowerment project in Africa,
but probably in the world, I must say that I’m very proud of the success of this
fantastic project

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.