Tag Archives: Tanzanian music

Artist Profiles: Swifatui Abraar Group

Swifatui Abraar Group was formed in 2007. The group was started by three young men, Hassan Kumbi, Hassan Ahmada and Mashaka Kumbi, and more recently has expanded to seven artists. Their main aims are to educate and entertain Muslims and non-Muslims alike by using qasida to promote positive images of Islam and a tolerant and peaceful way of life.

Swifatui Abraar has been successful in reaching the youth of Dar es Salaam, where they are based in the Temeke district. They have released one album locally, Siku ya Kufa (Dying Day) recorded by Poteza Records.


Siku ya Kufa (Poteza Records, 2009)


The Fabulous Musiki wa dansi of East Africa

Various Artists – Urgent Jumping! East African Musiki Wa Dansi Classics (Sterns Africa STCD 3067-68CD, 2016)

This 2 CD world music compilation is packed with over two hours of Afro-rooted dance music from 1970s and 1980s East Africa. Selected by British DJ and journalist John Armstrong, the anthology features many of the hits popular during two decades in East Africa.

Many of the Kenyan, Tanzanian and Congolese bands featured Urgent Jumping! included talented guitarists who combined modern elements with traditional rhythms. The vocals are in KiSwahili, the language spoken across many East African countries.

The most prominent genres included in this great compilation include benga, a style developed by the Luo people of western Kenya, who fused traditional beats and melodies with electric guitars and basses.

Congolese music was also very influential. Congolese migrants brought Cuban-inspired rumba and soukous to Kenya and Tanzania. It was common bands that featured musicians from various countries.

Lastly, there is the Arabic and Indian music influence that came across the sea. This includes taraab from Zanzibar, Lamu and other islands off the East African that had an effect on pop music in the mainland cities of Mombassa, Nairobi and Dar es Salaam.

The artists featured in Urgent Jumping! Are: L’Orch. Dar International, Afro 70, Kauma Boys Band, Super Mambo Jazz Band “69”, Maquis du Zaire, Victoria Jazz Band, Orchestre Conga Internationale, The Golden Kings Band, Sunburst Band, Urafiki Jazz Band, L’Orchestre Grand Piza, Hafusa Abasi & Slim Ali and the Kikulacho Yahoos Band, L’Orch. Moja One, Sega Sega Band, L’Orchestre Super Mambo, Earthquake Jazz Band, Vijana Jazz Band, Orchestre Special Liwanza, Juwata Jazz Band and Orchestre Super Jambo.

John Armstrong did a fabulous job putting this collection together. It’s great to see East Africa getting some attention since most of the African music we normally get is dominated by West African acts.

Buy Urgent Jumping! East African Musiki Wa Dansi Classics in the Americas

Buy Urgent Jumping! East African Musiki Wa Dansi Classics in Europe


Artist Profiles: Tausi Women’s Taarab

Tausi Taarab
Tausi Taarab

Zanzibar’s all-female Tausi Taarab orchestra was formed in 2009 and presents classical style music in the tradition of some of Zanzibar’s strongest women. Dating back to the 1920s when Siti Bint Saad who is widely recognized as the ‘mother of taarab’ recorded a large catalog of Swahili songs, many talented women composers and singers have contributed to the development of Zanzibar’s most famous music style.

Over time, other women’s taarab groups existed (such as Nadi lkhwati Safaa, Nuru el Ayoun, Sahib el Ary, Royal Air Force and Navy groups) that were especially strong during the 1960s. However, in those days even in the “women’s groups”, it was always the men who played the instruments.

Tausi Taarab presents an innovation and inspiration in a very traditional genre: an all female orchestra where all instruments are played by women, accompanying women singers and performing songs composed by women.


Artist Profiles: Mim Suleiman

Mim Suleiman was born in Zanzibar (Tanzania) and lived in Shangani (Stone Town) for most of her childhood, where she attended Tumekuja School. Mim appeared on TVZ in children’s programs back in the late 70s and early 80’s, but soon after her family moved to UK.

A few years later, Mim Suleiman started hearing streams of voices, rhythm and poetry coming out of herself while working as a technical teacher of metallurgy at the University of Birmingham (UK). With no musical background whatsoever, Mim Suleiman left her job to pursue her dream.

She has been described as a fiery singer who never fails to indulge her audience! She revels in her East African singing and percussion traditions, is a versatile vocalist and vibrant performer.

Mim Suleiman has played from Europe to Asia, but ironically rarely in Africa. Her music ranges from soul, blues, funk, house, jazz, rock and dance tracks, to her African heritage. She writes in English and Kiswahili (her native tongue) and sings in a variety of languages including Fula.

Mim’s reputation grew fast. She worked with Justin Adams and Juldeh Camarah on their “Tell No Lies” album. In 2009 she also performed at Glastonbury and WOMAD festivals (UK) as well as led workshops.


Tungi (2009)

Umbeya (2012)


Hip Shaking Tanzanian Rumba

Zanzibara 9 – Mbaraka Mwinsheshe & Orchestra Super Volcano – Masika, A Fresh Breeze from Tanzania – 1972-74 (Buda Musique, 2015)

This population showcases one of the most popular dance bands from mainland Tanzania, Orchestra Super Volcano, led by singer-songwriter and guitarist Mbaraka Mwinsheshe.

The band’s style is characterized by strong vocal work, Congolese-style creative guitar, laid back percussion, and a brass section that sometimes sounds very Cuban. This is no coincidence since many Tanzanian bands were influenced by Congolese rumba, which in turn was influenced by Cuban music.

Mbaraka Mwinsheshe and Super Volcano were very successful throughout East Africa, touring throughout Tanzania and Kenya, as well as concerts in Uganda, Zambia, Zaire (Lubumbashi), and Ethiopia.

The CD booklet includes English and French liner notes, with details about the Zanzibara series that focuses on Swahili music from Tanzania, biographical information and song lyrics translations to English and French.

Mbaraka Mwinsheshe died in a car accident in Mombasa in January 1979, during a tour in Kenya.

Zanzibara 9 contains a great collection of hip-shaking songs, illustrating one of the finest Tanzanian dance bands from the 1970s.

Buy Mbaraka Mwinsheshe & Orchestra Super Volcano – Masika, A Fresh Breeze from Tanzania – 1972-74


Artist Profiles: Afrikali Band

The Afrikali Band was formed in Tanzania at the end of 2004, comprising eight members aged between 16 and 26. Their music was a fusion of traditional and electric instruments. These eight members, who come from different parts of the country, were initially in different bands and decided to establish a new band so as to expand their skills. In their songs they use different languages from various Tanzanian tribes such as Makonde, Nyakyusa, Nyasa, Nyamwezi and not forgetting Swahili.

The word Afrikali is a mix of Africa and Kali, Swahili slang meaning extremely good or wonderful. This was to remind those who listen to their music about the positive work done in Africa. They also wanted to show the youth of Africa that they have the power to be heard through music. They called their style the Afrikali style.

Afrikali band won the first prize in the Music Crossroads Southern Africa 5th Interregional Festival in 2005 in Blantyre, Malawi after being in a very stiff challenge from other four countries, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe and thus demonstrating how Afrikali wishes to show young people in Africa and abroad that music has the power to make their voices be heard. By winning the above mentioned prize enabled the band to go on a European tour presenting its Afro fusion music in The Netherlands, Belgium, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovenia, Spain and Austria in different music festivals.

In 2010 Afrikali Band chanhged its name to Afrikwetu Productions.


Artist Profiles: African Revolution Band

African Revolution Band was formed in 1999. It was a splinter group from the African Beat and African Stars Bands (Wana Twanga Pepeta), who were one of the biggest hits in 200’s Festival of the Dhow Countries, in Zanzibar.

The popularity of the African Revolution Band started when they were the resident band at Hotel 77 in Arusha, and developed the Chumvi Chumvi dancing style.

In January 2000 the band returned to Dar es Salaam, where they played weekly at venues including Gerezani Railway Club, Leaders Club and Bahari Beach Hotel. Under the direction of their band leader, Muumini Mwijuma, who devised the massively popular Tam Tam style, the group released the chart topping Maisha Kitendawili album, and grown even more popular.


Maisha Kitendawili (2001)