Mwaka 2000: a hip hop documentary and a festival

Reason 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 news source.

poster design by Juma-4 for Rumba-Kali productionsAs 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 II.
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 E-Life)

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 scratching too.
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.

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