Mwalimu Julius Nyerere used to remind us, “Mdharau mila ni mtumwa” (He who disregards his traditions is a slave). This assertion hits us bang in the face when we look at the arts and culture scene in the country.
Our modern-day musicians are getting increasingly obsessed with foreign beats, even as they purport to play Tanzanian music they call Bongo Flava.
A Dar es Salaam-based journalist, who attended this year’s Sauti za Busara (Sounds of Wisdom) Festival, an annual music event in Zanzibar, reports of how great shows that were traditional in character attracted mostly foreign music lovers. Probably, if Bongo Flava artistes were present, they would be performing to full houses comprising mainly local music lovers. Bongo Flava, however, is mostly about lip-synching backed by CDs while Busara is about live performances.
Some local artistes are on record as saying their music is Tanzanian because they sing in Kiswahili. That is a wrong perception of music. Music is about the sounds, rhythm and the beat. Back in the 1970s, a group of Ghanaians based in the UK, Osibisa, captured Britain and indeed, the world, by their Afro Rock, which is very African, yet they sang in English.
It is culturally unhealthy for our artistes to copy South Africa’s Kwaito, American Hip Hop, Nigeria’s Skeleu, British Rock ‘n’ Roll, Congolese Rumba and call it Tanzanian music simply because they sing or rap in Kiswahili. Indeed, we could actually have very Tanzanian music sung in English, French or Arabic.
Why don’t our artistes perform Tanzanian music, rooted in our readily available the 120-plus tribal traditions?
The media—radio and TV—is rightly accused of ignoring music not tinged with foreign influence. They have little room, if any, for say, TatuNane or Wanne Star. Only a couple of media houses sent reporters in Zanzibar to cover Sauti za Busara event, which ended yesterday, while there were hordes of journalists from Germany, China, UK and Senegal, among others. That is not right.
PM ULTIMATUM, ORDER TIMELY
On Friday, Premier Kassim Majaliwa issued an ultimatum to all Tanzania Telecommunications Company Limited (TTCL) debtors to the effect that they must clear their debts by June 30.
He also instructed the state-run telecom giant to ensure it makes profit instead of surviving on government subsidies.
We find both the ultimatum and the order on profit apt. These, we aver, should also be directed to all other parastatals that have for years been relying on government subsidies for their operations. It is high time they started making profit and offer quality services.
While this is new development is crucial, it is important to note, however, that the government too is heavily indebted to both public and private entities to the extent of negatively affecting their operations. We understand that following the PM’s call, each public and private entity will have to deliver on its responsibilities and enjoy its rights. If this is the case, every government ministry, department and agency must pay all the money they owe other entities and at the same time get paid what is owed to them.
The government trades with not only big businesses, but small ones as well. When the small businesses are owed by the government, and it takes months before they are paid, then the former are likely to close up shop. The government must fulfil its obligations just as it is pressing public and private entities to fulfil theirs.