Zanzibar — THE icon of Taarab music in Tanzania, Fatuma binti Baraka alia 'Bi Kidude' has died after battling sickness for almost one year, the Zanzibar Speaker of the House of Representatives, Pandu Ameir Kificho, confirmed to the House on Wednesday.
Bi Kidude, the prestigious WOMEX award winner died in Bububu, Zanzibar where she was living under the care of her relatives in the last few months.
"Our beloved Taarab singer has just passed away," the Speaker said, triggering grief in the House, when the lawmakers were breaking for lunch. The death was also confirmed by her nephew Baraka Said.
Baraka informed the 'Daily News' that the family members, neigbours and friends were discussing about funeral arrangements.
Further reports said later on Wednesday that her body will be transferred to Rahaleo, where she resided and the burial will take place on Thursday. Bi Kidude was in bed since last November, suffering from different complications including urinary and bladder disorders and aging. She was estimated to be more than 90 years old.
Bi Kidude was born in Mfagimaringo village and began singing at a very early age in the 20s. In 1930 she moved to Dar es Salaam and joined the Egyptian Musical Club and toured a number of towns in the then Tanganyika.
In 1940 she went back to Zanzibar and continued her very long history in music. In her life Bi Kidude performed in every continent in the world.
In 2005 Bi Kidude received the prestigious WOMEX award for her outstanding contribution in music (in Arabic and Swahili) and culture in Zanzibar.
The WOMEX Awards also known as World Music Expo Award is an established award for World music. It was first introduced in 1999 to honour the high points of world music on an international level and to acknowledge musical excellence, social importance, commercial success, political impact and lifetime achievement.
Meanwhile, President Jakaya Kikwete has sent condolence message to the Minister for Information, Youth, Culture and Sports, Fenella Mukangara, following the death of legendary Taarab singer, Bi Kidude.
President Kikwete said he has received with shock news on Bi Kidude's death, saying Tanzania has lost an icon in Taarab music genre.
Last week, the Zanzibar Minister for Information, Tourism, Culture and Sports Said Ali Mbarouk, confirmed that the crooner's condition was not good, calling for prayers.
Several Members of the House of Representatives led by Saleh Nassor Juma (CUF- Wawi) and Wanu Hafidh Ameir (Women), blamed the government for abandoning the singer. They had the feelings that Bi Kidude was not receiving attention she deserved from the government and public at large.
Juma argued that Bi Kidude had played a significant role to promote Zanzibar and Tanzania music and culture abroad.
However, the Minister dismissed claims that the government had dumped Bi Kidude, saying they have been monitoring her health closely. He said that in efforts to recognise veteran artists in the islands, the next ministry budget will have funds to care for them