for us, as the Madunia/Rumba-Kali people to be in Tanzania was the production
of a video documentary. The Dutch organization Scherpenzeel Media ordered
us to go and shoot a half hour film; topic was hip hop as an alternative
we mentioned before, rap has been used by organizations and companies
alike to reach the kids, in a way they understand it. In Tanzania, ministries
have been raising funds for rappers to rap on certain hot topics: importance
of tourism in Zanzibar, the danger of buying an illegal passport and more.
But rappers also have their own ways of spreading a message that nobody
paid them for to express, such as the harsh words on politicians of Mr
Martin from Madunia Foundation came up with the initiative to make a docu
on this, backed by the available info from Rumba-Kali site and his own
experience in Dar in 1998. It proved hard to raise sponsorship for the
project so it ended up a low budget film. This does not necessarily mean
low quality as the footage shows.
In April 99, Ben Hewett (living in Dar) and me did the initial research,
supported by Carl Lewis who is a long-time hip hop supporter (and he's
close with many emcees). Martin & Joost came later with the equipment.
The footage now includes interviews with some 20 rappers from the most
well-known groups in Dar, Arusha and Zanzibar, and people representing
organizations that have used rap as a means to communicate with the audience.
The audience, with the Fortune Tellers (center)
To get some footage of rappers in action we organised a concert called
'Mwaka Elfu Mbili' (year 2000) where many of the interviewed and other
rappers should be present, and it turned out to be one of the most complete
rap events in Dar es Salaam ever, because almost every big name in Tanzanian
rap was there performing. In fact the list of performers was so full that
some artists who first showed up on the night of the concert couldn't
get on anymore. These days many rap festivals in Dar have a poster showing
the biggest names in Tanzanian rap, whereas the artists themselves have
not even been informed that they are supposed to be there so the audience
turns up, pays and then finds that their favorite isn't there. This is
why many emcees are very distrustful about any promoters organizing a
major event. Luckily it became evident that there was no catch in the
Mwaka Elfu Mbili event, and radio & tv paid attention - in particular
ITV that interviewed X Plastaz, Fortune Tellers from Arusha together with
our Mr Mongo (Martin), and Clouds FM with KBS and Bonnie who for a week
had the performing rappers on their daily show.
The evening itself which took place in FM Club in Kinondoni area proved
succesful - despite the hot sun people gathered around the fence to be
early. The people from Urithi studios did the PA and made sure that everything
was recorded on ADAT, while some other hip hop minded people guarded the
ticket sales (all income from the door was to be divided among the artists).
Presenter KBC and dj P-Funk (he's holding a 12" of Dutch rapper
The performing time was from 4 in the afternoon until 9 at night during
which 15 crews passed the mic. Since few emcees came up with their own
instrumentals, it was the dj Paul P-Funk who had to supply most of the
beats out of his crate of instrumentals. His collection for that night
contained strictly beats of the 'east coast feeling' kind, so 2 Pac lovers
must have had a hard time. For most of the rappers present he seemed to
have a fitting instrumental though, and the best of them received Paul's
Some of the highlights of that night include Bad G with a rap in her native
tongue (was it Kinyakyusa?), Deplowmatz who did their Kalamashaka track
while inviting dj Paul to come on stage, Mr 2, Kwanza Unit, X Plastaz
with the little Fortune Tellers who succeeded in making all 500 people
in the audience cheer for them, and GWM who were cut short in their performance
because the hall had to be closed at a certain time. The 'Year 2000 Event'
ended not with fireworks but with a violent disagreement in which the
bouncer beat up two of the people who were actually helping in organizing
the night; they had to be taken to hospital for observation. Kinondoni
is definitely a rough area at night and this club is known for some incidents
and a rough bouncer. Fortunately fights don't occur too often in the Tanzanian
hip hop scene, unlike in other countries.
Mwaka 2000 in FM Club, Kinondoni, Dar es Salaam with Carl Lewis and Monema
at the gate
The footage that we shot while in TZ will be compiled into a half hour
documentary that will be available to students of schools of journalism
in Europe and Africa. The possibility of distribution along other channels
will be investigated; if the video will be available for ordering we'll
let you know on this site.
(back to intro)