Tanzanian Band Wins 6th InterRegional Music Crossroads Festival

For the second year running, Tanzania came top at the 6th
InterRegional Music Crossroads Festival, held 20-23 January in Blantyre, Malawi.
Afrikali, a group of eight young sparkling musicians from Dar Es Salaam,
triumphed with their fusion of traditional and electric music and won the chance
of a lifetime to perform across Europe during a four week tour. The band, whose
name Afrikali can be translated as “Wonderful Africa” (kali is a Swahili word
for “extremely good” or “wonderful”), will follow in the footsteps of last
year’s winners, the OYA Theatre Group, also from Tanzania. Some 185 musicians came together in Blantyre, Malawi, where the InterRegional
Festival was held for the first time, at the French Cultural Center. The Malawi
National Finals opened the festivities on 20th and 21st January and revealed
four groups that went on to take part in the InterRegional competition. The
level of the bands in Malawi has improved significantly since the country’s
first national festival in 2000 and the project is now reaching out to young
musicians beyond the major cities of Lilongwe and Blantyre. Malawi came first in
the InterRegional Festival in 2003 with the gospel band Tikhu Vibrations.

In total 12 groups competed on 22nd January, including four from Malawi and two
from each of the other Music Crossroads countries: Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia
and Zimbabwe. Guest performers included the Swedish funk rappers SFD (Musik
Direkt winners) and three traditional Norwegian musicians (winners at the Forde
International Folk Music Festival) who were on the spot on the occasion of the
visit of HRH the Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway. The Princess was on a
visit to Malawi focusing on the impact of HIV/AIDS in the area, and she spoke
highly of the role of Music Crossroads Southern Africa during a special concert
that followed the Festival.

The winners Afrikali, aged between 16 and 27 years old, come from different
parts of Tanzania and sing in the languages of various Tanzanian tribes
including Makonde, Nyakyusa, Nyasa, Nyamwezi and Swahili. They only formed four
months ago and perform original compositions on both traditional (drums) and
modern instruments (guitar, bass, drum kit) – they call their music “afrikali
style”. “The prize will change our lives, that’s for sure”, said lead
singer Susan Erick (22 years old). Music Crossroads Project Manager, Stig Asp,
commented: “We hope that the winners Afrikali will encourage more young
people to fuse genres and create their own style whilst keeping the
characteristics of their nation. We really hope Africali will be a great and
long-lasting inspiration for other musicians

The second prize, the Swedish tour, went to Mitwedjeto from Nampula, Mozambique.
And two talented musicians won the chance to take part in the Swedish
international folk music camp, Ethno: Mahsin Ally Salim, the lead singer and
darbuka player of DCMA Kidumbak (Zanzibar, Tanzania) and Kakakana’s jemba player
Xavier Joao Tembe (Mozambique). Runners-up received musical instruments and

The weekend festival also included a drum workshop and a creative workshop where
the participants composed an original tune, the official Music Crossroads 2005
song that was performed during the weekend by musicians from the different

Details about the European and Swedish tours will be available in due time on

Music Crossroads Southern Africa, a youth empowerment through music program
initiated by JMI in 1996, offers young African musicians aged between 15 and 27
years old the chance to improve their musical skills through workshops,
festivals and competitions. Up-and-coming African musicians who want to make
music their lives can pick up knowledge and advice from professionals from the
music field and learn the tricks of the trade at a Music Crossroads event which
also offers a unique occasion to meet other young musicians, gain valuable
performance experience and compete for attractive prizes such as musical
instruments, studio recordings and tours in Europe. By watching the
performances, many young listeners and street kids are also inspired to become
like their local heroes. To ensure that the future of these young musicians
isn’t cut short by AIDS, dedicated workshops enable participants to openly
address sexual issues and learn about how they can protect themselves. Music
Crossroads Southern Africa receives support from SIDA, NORAD and UNESCO.

More information about Music Crossroads on


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.