Friday, December 15, 2017

Welcome back Babu, but times have changed

Nguza Viking aka Babu Seya and Johnson Nguza

Nguza Viking aka Babu Seya and Johnson Nguza aka Papi Kocha on their release over the weekend. PHOTO | FILE 

By Paul Owere

Every December 9 Tanzania celebrates the Independence of Tanganyika, a day that is usually very eventful in many ways.

The 56th celebrations was unique in many ways first, it was the first time that the capital Dodoma was hosting such a celebrations, and then came the Presidential pardon, this too , was the first of its kind.

Death row convicts and those serving lifetime sentences were set free by the President sparking frenzy across the city.

The most popular of those acquitted were singers Nguza Viking aka ‘Babu Seya’ and his son Johnson Nguza aka ‘Papi Kocha’ who were serving a life sentence in Ukonga Prison.

It was freedom at last after several futile attempts to appeal against the sentence hit very hard rocks and they seemed resigned to their fate. The social media got a bit noisy with their hit single Seya becoming one of the trending issues of the day.

Bars and night clubs had songs such as Fanta, Salima and Seya on their playlist, with revellers dancing emotionally.

Many of their fans look forward to that concert when father and son shall hit the stage once again after 14 years’ absence.

As reckless as we tend to be in our gossip sessions, there were even those who dared to propose who should promote their first concert.

There were those too who were quick to question the correctness of acquitting these musician but they were quickly reminded that it is enshrined in the constitution.

At the time of their arrest and later conviction in June 2014 ‘Seya’ was the song of the day as the duo performed at different venues attracting a handsome audiences.

Those were the days when Congolese musicians and bands that were affiliated to dance music dominated the entertainment scene such as Twanga Pepeta, FM Academia, and others.

Tanzania at that time was still under the leadership of President Mkapa and President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete was the country’s top diplomat.

All these might seem like it was only yesterday, but 14 years can be a very long time especially when in confinement and detached from a world that was once adored you.

Times have changed indeed, so has our music therefore, it is quite an interesting prospect how the two are likely to integrate into normal life and more so music which was their trade and hopefully still is.

But as we welcome Nguza Viking and co back to the entertainment fold there are several events that might offer a rude welcome to the duo.

TMK was the hottest group

In the early days of Bongo Flava apart from singers such as Dully Sykes dominating the playlist, an all male group had emerged in Temeke which boasted of musicians such as Juma Nature, Chege, Temba and many others.

This group was at that point the toast of the city especially with their signature dance skills that set them apart from several others.

Unfortunately, as Babu returns this group is no more with most of its members having gone solo and some have disappeared into oblivion.

Bongo Films

Tanzania’s film industry has grown in leaps and bounds over the years to become one of top industries on the continent in terms of output with the late Kanumba emerging as one of its stars.

At the time their incarceration Kanumba was still a struggling artiste who had just joined Kaole Sanaa Group.

Bongo films are now the staple and the industry now boasts of its own stars such as Vincent Kigosi, Irene Uwoya, Gabo Zagamba and many others.

Miss Tanzania

This was at some point one of the hottest events in town, one that was a must attend for the socialites of the day.

Silvia Bahame was perhaps the last beauty queen that the Nguza family saw and that was during the vibrant times of the pageantry.

Beauty queens who followed there after such as Nancy Sumari went on to win the continental award in 2005 whereas Wema Sepetu is now an actress.

Miss Tanzania has since descended into turmoil with no signs of returning to normalcy any time soon.

Bongo Stars Search

While they were away a new talent search was born some three years later christened Bongo Star Search, now even with what seems like a waning popularity BSS remains a force to reckon with in the industry.

The search has gone on to produce some talented musicians who are now forces to reckon with in the industry such as Peter Msechu


There was a time when live bands were the ultimate entertainment experience as they registered full house attendances especially in Kinondoni, Dar es Salaam.

These bands are currently a struggling lot especially with the rise of Bongo Flava and solo artistes.

Many have disintegrated whereas others that have survived are only in a name as they can barely put up a show.

Diamond and Alikiba

Many things have happened in the last decade in the entertainment industry but perhaps one of the greatest features was the rise of AliKiba and Diamond in the second half of the first decade of the millennium.

They arrived at a time when crooners were not anything to talk home of in the nascent Bongo Flava industry, but little did the industry know that they would revolutionize the proceedings.

It is still debatable whether these are the finest musicians that Tanzania has ever produces, but they have since become the reference point in Tanzania’s music enjoying a massive following across the continent.

Bongo Flava in general has become a force to reckon with on the continent as Tanzanian musicians have gone on to win awards at continental shows.

Aslay and the new breed

If there is anything that has happened in Bongo Flava in the last one year then it was the emergence of Aslay as a solo artiste with string of hit songs that has got the nation singing.

Alongside in Nandi who is a product of THT, an organisation that emerged in the quest to nurture young Tanzanian artistes.

All these developments might paint a dynamic industry that has changed , but don’t be fooled, however saturated it might be Nguza could still have a place should he chose to return to music.