Shaaban Robert. Who in East and Central Africa has never heard of the legendary Swahili writer and thinker?
He died in 1962, yet his legacy has thrived for decades. Schools and roads and buildings and institutions, named after the legendary award-winning Tanga icon.
Alongside the legacy so are his blood ties. Shaaban Robert’s daughter Mwanjaa was married to one of Mwalimu Nyerere’s cabinet members – also career diplomat – Waziri Juma, who passed on in 2016.
Their daughter Fauzia lived in Kinondoni, Dar es Salaam, and in 1993 gave birth to a future star.
Great granddaughter Jackline Waziri has kicked off a unique event in London beginning next Friday, October 16, 2020.
Draped and decorated with green, blue, black, yellow colours of our flag, Tanzanite is Jackline Waziri’s special radiance. Why special and why feature during a unique night here?
Tanzanite is enriched with elements of unselfishness, patriotism, Pan Africanism and internationalism. The 27-year-old mother just released a collection of poetry, Mwana in Kiswahili and English. Instead of just advertising the book (with poems titled Saba, Tanga, Tanzanite, Karibu, etc), alone, through social media, Amazon and such, Miss Waziri decided to involve Tanzanian artists, and self-employed entrepreneurs. This, she promises – zealous and burning with zest and positive energy – “shall be , God willing, a continuous monthly event, showcasing more and more Tanzanians across the globe”.
There is a catch, though, as the English say, when something is not sraightforward.
Since we are still in the Covid-19 – social distancing mode – the October 16 one-hour-plus feast and thrill shall be beamed through the Zoom app. For those unfamiliar with Zoom, it has been among the main modes of communicating professional and governmental work since March 2020. Prior to the coronavirus menace (and nuisance), only those in London would have witnessed the occasion. Zoom and the internet are ironically stretching Tanzania and Tanzanite’s glowing, beauty-filled bells.
Anyone in the world can “beam and enjoy” ONE HOUR of Shaaban Robert’s great grandchild from 8pm East African Time (EAT) and 6pm GMT, ie in London, on Friday, October 16, 2020.
Speaking exclusively to The Citizen, Jackline Waziri insisted that her motto “ is to bring healing, truth, light, awakening and unity to the African community, but particularly the African children who are the future to lift up and rebuild Africa..”
By embracing All Things African, the Dar es Saalam born, London based writer and poet is also keen to “embrace a world that still lives in Tanzania.”
No wonder the Tanzanian flag cheers and embellish her posters and posts across Facebook, Instagram and internet.
Mwana is Ms Waziri’s first collection, and she aims to emulate her great grandfather.
She developed a keen interest in literature, creative writing and poetry after arriving in London in 1999, aged only six.
Those days a close family member who wrote was her aunt Amina Waziri Richards. Auntie Amina’s self-published a few books, most notably Oneness, which recounts her daughter Comfort. She died tragically in London, 2002.
Jackline Waziri recalls:
“I don’t think my auntie (Amina) knew I wrote because I used to do this at work on my breaks, on my computer....and never shared this with anyone until very recently...I did not believe it was anything amazing until I found out more and more about my great, grandfather. And that is when it clicked as to why “ I keep writing”...I just loved writing.”
Shaaban Robert was a devoted patriot, fond of people, literature and Tanzania. One of his most celebrated verses is Titi la Mama Litamu Hata Likiwa la Mbwa “– saluting Kiswahili around times of Tanzania’s Uhuru struggles. His spirit will be reignited during next Friday’s Zoom meet.
And who are the participants?
Tanzanite shall introduce and encompass award winning musician, Saidi Kanda (who played with Remmy Ongala and has worked with international stars such as Jamaican musician Grace Jones and Brazilian percussion maestro Airto Morreira); businessman Frank Leo (Upendo Events); Ticha Vibes, the disabled , gifted guitarist and musician; spoken word artist Sophia Egan; cloth designer Athanasia Kisyeli; young novelist and musician Zarina Macha; ex-Muungano and Kibisa Ngoma dancer Likiwa Ismail; Sia Joseph of Sia Travel Tanzania tourist attractions; Hamida Mbaga of All Things African, and the author of this column performing his music.
Certainly aspires to be a memorable night, an international internet show of a calibre never seen before.
In launching and hosting Tanzanite, Jackline Waziri is setting off a fire of love that will make the spirit of her ancestors dance, clap and groove, and also usher Tanzanian arts and trade links on the global map. Yes, folks. Help cheer her and tune in to Zoom. Passcode 519058 and Meeting ID 8529093 9096.
Freddy Macha is a writer and musician based in London. Blog, www.freddymacha-blogspot.com