Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Oldest Living Performer in the World : Bi. Kidude...

What is the secret of a long life? Tablets? Botox? Money? Implants? Probably Andy Jones, the Englishman who just completed a documentary on the life of Bi. Kidude, legendary Zanzibar performer, could help us with answers. Bi. Kidude, is a rare female gem. She is a subject of As Old as My Tongue to be shown this coming Sunday, October 7th, at Arcola Theatre, East London, part of the ongoing "African, Mine and Movement" film festival.

I last saw this amazing lady in 1990 while on tour with her. By then we heard she was "very old"...by old, I mean, past her 80's....



Everyone was talking about Bi. Kidude. The press was hankering and raving about this unique woman from Indian Ocean's spicy islands of Zanzibar. The then Tanzanian Ambassador in the UK, John Malecela, made a party in her honour.
Tiny, energetic, chain smoking, she looked through you; fearless, almost like a creature from another planet, another era.
Timeless.
Kidude, means "A Very Little Thing" in Swahili. She used to perform with, Siti Binti Saad, the greatest female Swahili singer of all time in the 1930's and 40's. Famous Kiswahili writer, Shaaban Robert, was so enthralled he wrote an epic about the late Siti Binti Saad, comparing her to angels.
Siti and the Shakespeare of Swahili writing are now both gone, nearly 50 years later. And who is still here, singing Taarab music?
Bi. Kidude.
I am not surprised by Andy Jones's efforts. We need answers and learn from our elders. Normally in rich countries Senior Citizens get ostracised and abandoned in drab isolated homes. Back in Zanzibar, Bi. Kidude is still singing, very much alive. A treasure, humanity, mother nature.

5 comments:

Johnskibeat said...

And still smokin'! LOL!

Chemi Che-Mponda said...

I met her back in 1992, she was old but strong. I hope to meet her again on my next visit. Truly her passion for taarab and unyago are what is keeping her alive.

SIMON KITURURU said...

She is amazing!
Kaka Freddy , karibu kwangu pia!

Anonymous said...

She is definitely old (possibly late 90s or even 100) and is noted as having started out as a child performer "in the 1920s" but I think the title of "oldest living performer" must go to Dutchman Johannes Keesters who will be 107 in December 2010 and is still performing, having started (professionally) in 1920 although he was also performing as a child prior to the First World War. That's some career.

papacosmo said...

nice one Freddy. are you around tomorrow?