20 October 2007

Tanzania: Dar Taarab Group to Thrill Fans During IDD Festivities

Nairobi — Dar es Salaam-based taarab group Tanzania One Theatre (TOT) is the highlight of the ongoing Idd festivities.

The band, known for soulful tunes such as Mwanamke Mambo, performs at City Hall on Saturday before moving to Mombasa's Fort Jesus for a show on Sunday.

The band will be backed by the Sepetuko band, led by Mombasa mayor Hamisi Mwidani.

Also expected to perform are Mwanahawa Ali of Zanzibar Stars and Mwanaisha Shaban of East African Melodies.

The concerts are organised by Masters Classic Production and Media Machine, and will also see TOT launch its new album, Kubali Matokeo.

The album whose songs are composed by a band member, Omar Kopa, who has since died, has been under production for the last three months, and Kenyan taarab fans will have the privilege to sample it first.

"We want to give the Kenyan fans the first priority, and this is why we are coming to launch the album here," says Ms Khadija, Kopa's mother.

"It is significant that Omar Kopa's last major concert was in Mombasa," she said.

The band, formed by Tanzania's ruling party Chama cha Mapinduzi, recently suffered a major setback when it lost Kopa, one of the longest serving members.

His mother, though, has vowed to keep the band's flames burning even though she says no-one will adequately fill the void her son left.

"It's been difficult for us since Omar left, but we are growing stronger, and we will not let the band crumble," she says.

"This will definitely make Omar happy even in death."

Besides Mwanamke Mambo, fans attending the shows will be treated to Tufagilie and Simtaki Wako.

Evocative and poetic

They will also revel in a night of a taarab extravaganza, courtesy of Mwanahawa Ali who is celebrating 40 years in music, with hits such as Tutabanana Hapa Hapa.

Music lovers will also sample the Rusha Roho and Mipasho lyrics, courtesy of Mwanaisha Shaban of East African Melodies.

The lyrics are evocative and poetic, a fact that has endeared the band to many music lovers across the East African region and across the age divide.

Currently, East African Melodies is riding high with the hit song, Paka Mapepe.

It is known for also taarab tracks such as Siadhiriki, Huna Muaman, Zoa Zoa, Wamungu Uwazi, Semeni and Kasha.

The last was originally composed by Kenya's own Mombasa Roots group.

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