tanzania
bendera

Music

There are many types of traditional dances and traditional musical instruments.

A traditional guitar was a big fiddle with a resonator made from a coconut shell and this was common along the Coast. The "marimba" is a common musical instrument among many tribes especially around Dodoma. The small wooden box is the resonator for an array of metal springs of different lengths which are touched by the thumb to produce music. The drum is one of the most important African musical instruments. There are various types, shapes and sizes. Drums were also used in traditional days to announce arrival or departure of traditional leaders or to keep a rhythm or morale to farming societies through a dance called Gobogobo. Some drums were used to summon people to meet the ruler or as battle cry.

music zanzibar sauti za busaraDancing is an expression of emotion. The emotion could be happiness or sadness or that which marks a sacred occasion (harvest time, weddings, circumcision, and initiation event). Different musical instruments are used including drums, marimba, whistles, etc. Whatever the dance, the message it communicates can be read in the faces of the audience.

Taarab is a local music show very popular in Zanzibar. Traditional taarab is an evening show involving a singer who performs backed by 40 piece orchestra, drums, horns and strings. Taarab is theatrical in that women dressed in dazzling evening wear slowly approach the singer, dancing as they ascend, to give money to the singer. This is an expression of compliments to the instrumentalist and singer. Taarab is a mixture of Indian, Arabian and African music.

Mwaka Kogwa is a celebration of the onset of the New Year also popular in Zanzibar. This is a four-day celebration held on the third week of July and has its roots in the Zoroastrian religion. The main features are mock fights with banana stems. The idea of these fights is to give an opportunity to all to give vent to their grievances so that they can enter the new year with a clean and pure heart free from any bitter feelings. In other words, past year's misunderstandings and grievances are exorcised.

While the men fight, the women, dressed in their best clothes, sing Kiswahili songs containing comments and messages about love and village life and mainly directed to the men.