FOTO: PETER KUTHAN
SHAABAN MUASI VUAI (Sekembuke)
SAMM FARAI MONRO, bekannt als COMRADE FATSO, 1980 in
ZIMBABWE geboren, hat keine Freude mit dem Regime Mugabe. Seine Musik
ist eine Mischung aus afrikanischen Rythmen, hiphop beats und rebellischer
Lyrik in Englisch und in Shona.
PETER KUTHAN, mastermind vieler Austauschprojekte mit
Gruppen aus Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Tanzania und den Kapverdischen Inseln,
berichtet über seine Erlebnisse und zeigt Lichtbilder von seinen
Reisen. Gemeinsam mit seiner Familie hat er mehrere Jahre in Zimbabwe
gelebt und ist Initiator des Projekts TONGA ONLINE, www.mulonga.net.
SIGA & SEKEMBUKE
Tanzania is a country with an extremely varied musical culture which, alongside its numerous lighter incarnations shaped by influences from around the world from Cuban and jazz music in the 1940s to today\'s rap and hip-hop scenes, has managed to keep most of its traditions intact and nowhere more so than on island of Zanzibar, birthplace of the Imani Ngoma Troupe, a six-piece ensemble who, on the five tracks that make up their new CD Bape, offer some idea of the astonishing richness of their musical heritage.
Not simply a group, The Imani Ngoma Troupe forms part of a cultural association that organises various educational programmes including fostering young musical talent on the island and promoting its music overseas.
The most widely known musical form of this region is without doubt the taarab, which with its odd mixture of African, Arabic and Indian elements was originally destined to be played at weddings of the islands Swahili population. Not limiting themselves to this genre, however, the Imani Ngoma Troupe are quite happy to filch from the musical fish-baskets of Zanzibar\'s other ethnic groups. Here we have music for ritual dances (from marriages to initiation rites) employing ngoma drums, zumari (a wooden clarinet, probably of Portuguese origin) sanduku (a kind of rudimentary one-string double bass) along with various other percussion instruments. Particularly stirring are the female vocals that give body to lyrics that give equal weight to the problems of contemporary society and the timeless mysteries of the human heart.
Among the most important dances are the msewe, originally
performed during exorcisms by a group of male dancers, and the kidumbak,
a dance similar in sound to the taarab where two small drums lend support
to a melody played on violin. The musicians of the Imani Ngoma Troupe
have honed their skills through years of experience both in their work
for Zanzibar\'s Education and Culture Ministry and in numerous concerts
at home and abroad. Which is one of the reasons who listening to Bape
one find oneself instantly immersed in the magic of a musical territory
that is truly unique, a place brimming with unusual sounds, colours and
perfumes where the circulation and melding of different styles and genres
has long been embraced as a necessity rather than the fleeting whim of
SAMM FARAI MONRO, better known as COMRADE FATSO, is one of Zimbabwe's most popular and controversial poets. He performs Toyi Toyi Poetry, radical street poetry that mixes Shona with English and mbira with hip hop. It's an art form that is an uprising against the bloody ZANU (PF) regime.
If Robert Mugabe's secret police stopped turning up at his gigs, Comrade Fatso admits that he would begin to worry. "They're always there, monitoring what we do;" reports the militant rapper-poet. "Our music is a rebellious, pro-freedom riot so if we didn't attract their attention, we'd be doing something wrong;" he says defiantly. "What we sing is truth and words are our weapon. If they want to lock us up for that, then so be it. We're not scared and intimidation won't stop us"
Farai Monro, a white, dreadlocked underground rebel who sings in both English and Shona, has caused enormous controversy in Zimbabwe. Combining hiphop beats, African rhythms and highly-politicised lyrics criticising the rule of Mugabe; the music has been banned by Zimbabwe's state- radio and television channels, forcing Fatso and his group to promote the album via unconventional methods. "We have it available in shops, cafes and independent stores," he says, "but at the same time we have our own guerrilla tactics of getting the word out into the townships. We have street teams of comrades who distribute hundreds of copies of the album into the kombis - public mini-buses used by ordinary Zimbabweans. So we create an alternative "people's radio" as the album gets played in hundreds of kombis: Fatso began writing poetry when growing up in Zimbabwe in his teens, before travelling abroad to take a university course in the UK. "When I returned to Zimbabwe I knew I wanted to be part of the struggle for freedom and I wanted to create a new radical culture of performance poetry;" he says. The two came together in what he calls toyi toyi poetry, named after the spontaneous foot-stomping dance of protest that became a famous expression of resistance in apartheid-era South Africa. Mixing English and Shona with street slang, political sloganising and hip-hop rhythms, he cites dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson, Fela Kuti and Thomas Mapfumo as his main sources of inspiration. "I always knew that I wanted to marry words with music and to create a new urban, African sound of struggle. Instead of music being used to turn African youth into passive consumers and obedient citizens, we need music that makes us move and dance against poverty and dictatorship. Chabvondoka means "it's a riot" and that's exactly what our music is
2008 has seen Comrade Fatso and Chabvondoka launch
their much-acclaimed album, House of Hunger, banned in Zimbabwe but labelled
by Agence France Presse as "the most revolutionary album since Thomas
Mapfumo's music in the 1970s." Fatso and Chabvondoka have performed
extensively at festivals in France, UK, Holland, Kenya, Reunion, Botswana,
Malawi, Swaziland and South Africa. Fatso's poetry and music have appeared
in print and broadcast media in over fifty countries around the world.
"Word by word, song by song, we will build a new Zimbabwe;"
Comrade Fatso insists.
SAMM FARAI MONRO
A flexible performer Fatso performs his rhythmic poetry
acapella, accompanied by bass guitar or with his band, Chabvondoka. Chabvondoka's
sound effortlessly blends the sound of Chimurenga, Jazz, Afrobeat and
Hip Hop to create a sound that is at once revolutionary and immensely
danceable. Their performances have uplifted crowds from Harare to Johannesburg,
with their recent perfromance at the Harare Interational Festival of the
Arts 2007 labelled as "the best perfomance of the festival"
(Kinobe & Soul Beat Africa). Fatso has performed extensively, having
been invited to perform his rebel poetry at festivals in France, the UK,
Kenya, Botswana, Malawi and South Africa. He has shared the stage with
leading performers such as Pops Mohammed, Mzwakhe Mbuli, Zubz and Metaphysics
while also performing with artists such as Chiwoniso, Kinobe & Soul
Beat Africa, Kgafela oa Magogodi, Napo Masheane, Lebo Mashile, Jitsvinger,
Dizraeli and Adisa. Fatso's poetry has appeared on BBC, CNN, SABC, Mnet,
ZBC, KPFA FM (USA) and various international print media. 2007 saw Fatso
nominated for a Zimbawe Human Rights award in the music category, alongside
Zimbabwean icons Thomas Mapfumo and Leonard Zhakata.