As soon as he appeared on the amphitheatre during the second night of Sauti za Busara Festival, I heard one of his fans calling him by his name in a loud voice.
The name is none other than Isack Abeneko, a contemporary live performer, actor, dancer, guitarist and choreographer. His music is delivered through various Tanzanian traditional dances, melodies and rhythms, blended with contemporary dance music to illuminate and inspire the next generation.
It was at the amphitheatre at the Old Fort ground around 11pm when artiste Abeneko, dressed in a kitenge outfit, was joined on stage by his band ready to give an exciting performance.
Despite it being late at night, sweat filled the bodies of the group on stage, prompting Abeneko to hand out white towels for them to dry the perspiration before proceeding with a heart-throbbing performance. All the while, the crowd was ecstatic in anticipation.
Abeneko’s band was among other 46 groups which participated at the 15th edition of Sauti za Busara this year. Abeneko easily connected with his fans, and just one song into his performance, the crowd had already encroached close to the stage and were dancing like no one was watching.
“The connection between me and the crowd was all about good vibe from my performance. The combination of different vibes from different languages pulled the crowd to dance along with me,” says Abeneko.
At the stage, during his performance he also gave five CD copies of his new album called Wakati as a gift to his fans.
He says through his music he delivers social messages, sharing his love and happiness with his fans as well as providing different perspectives to the youth who are inspired by western culture and other music genres.
His music career started back in 2008 with Lumumba theatre group as a dancer. “In 2012 I decided to become a solo artiste. Grasping all the changes was never easy because music is a learning process,” he says. Abeneko had to invest his time in learning all that music entailed until he released his first album titled “Mama Chambewa” in 2015.
“Mama Chambewa” talks about challenges of families in connection to divorce and an increase of street children,” Abeneko says. Just recently he launched an album called “Wakati”, which has 10 songs. The entire album talks about how to value humanity.
Commenting on his performance at Sauti za Busara festival, Abeneko says he knew he was going to meet people who understand qualities of live music and not play back as well as people who appreciate traditional music.
The artiste describes his music style as bongo and afro fusion, afro beat, reggae, as well as traditional dance which he mixes with different vibes like azonto, malewa, lizombe mangaka and singeli. The combination of such vibes creates a unique rhythm.
Abeneko uses local languages from different tribes such as Makonde, Haya, Luo, Kuria and Swahili to remind the society that our language is our heritage and we shouldn’t allow it to lose its meaning.
Sharing on the challenges of forming a band, he says maintaining a band has never been easy because it requires a lot of money. Most of his band members are his friends and they do it as a way of supporting him.
“I thank God that all of the band members understand how hard it is to own a band. This way, we are able to work even when there is no money to be distributed amongst ourselves. When we get money, it is divided amongst the members. Love and unity is what has kept us together throughout this time,” added Abeneko. Pendo Manase has been with the band for three years now. She is happy to be part of the band because of the support she gets, which she believes will help her career grow.
Pendo started singing in church at a young age, in order to perfect her talent; she went to music school for two years at Music May Day College.
She sees a bright future ahead in her music career by being a member of the band. She is looking forward to becoming solo artiste in future. She however acknowledges the positive inputs that she has received from the band.
Working with Abeneko has been a pleasure to his band mates. The gifted musician has participated in many music exchange projects and performed at different festivals including Karibu Music Festival (Bagamoyo), DoaDoa (Uganda), Marahaba Swahili music festival, Wikiend live music concert and the The beat festival.