Sunday, 5 April 2015


The news that a new festival only dedicated to women is getting stronger in France, is extraordinarily,  special. Festival Les Femmes S'en Melent aims to promote women musicians only. I was watching its founder and journalists talking  on France TV on Easter weekend 2015.
 On one hand it is hurrrah for the anti discrimination window. Like having gigs ONLY for reggae or blacks or albinos or disabled or any group that has been sidelined and left out for ages.

Tanzania's bassist  Muhtaji,  daughter of the legendary Mbaraka Mwinshehe, on stage with Twanga Pepeta in 2010. Pic from Michuzi Blog

 One of those involved ( could not catch his name) said everything in the music industry is mainly, male dominated. Men players, engineers, promoters and women are oftentimes groupies, dolls, objects of pleasure, muse, etc. That the percentage of female musicians in festivals and gigs is very low compared to men. 

A journalist added that women musicians are never taken seriously. Sold through magazine covers, paraded as beauties and objects of social attention.
I watched, listened and pondered.
One side agreed.
Another side of me, questioned....
Let us look at Beyonce. One of the biggest selling female musicians today. She has an all female band.  But when she performs, the camera just sits on her. Images of her legs, face, her dancers and hips are magnified and zoomed  zillion times. 

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Saturday, 14 February 2015


Of shoulders like continents and  love in Ferrari

Many years ago when I first met Jim Berger in  Tanzania  we  shared art, music and literature constantly. He was one of many foreign teachers working at International School Moshi.
During those pre-internet days when there were no social networking forums,  this sort of open exchange was uncommon and quite uplifting for two young writers from totally different cultures.  I  thought he was a very abstract writer. We are talking 1981 and 1982.  As a young African author  I thought like (the rest of my generation ) that literature and art should serve a purpose.
Stimulate, educate, liberate. Message art. Bob Marley, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Gil Scott Heron, that type of line.

Back then,  my writing was still in its infancy.  I had been an active  journalist for around five years. Had  few poems published. Was in a music band called Sayari.  Had just won a BBC Prize in 1981......little going on yet... not a total beginner, nevertheless.

Fast forward,  thirty something years later and in stumbles James Berger’s “Prior” 2013 collection.  I don’t think James has changed. He is still writing the same way. It is me who has a different perspective. James Berger is now a senior lecturer at Yale University, a professor running workshops and classes on language and literature. The man is still the same, yes, but with few more tricks up his steadily, evolving sleeves. Yes. Jim Berger  in evolution. Plays trombone instead of guitar (like those Moshi days), married with kids.  
 James Berger in London, Summer 2014...

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