Sunday, 25 November 2007

Hammersmith Town Hall Gig 30th NOV

Ever heard of Tukolene?
I will let you know in a minute.
On Friday 30th November, a huge party is on at the Hammersmith Town Hall, West London, for children in Tanzania. One ticket for the bash is at a staggering £50! Hold on minute. This is not your normal party. First of all once you pay £50 you have a full meal, cocktail drinks plus entertainment. This will include a fashion show, acrobats (by Highflyers) and music provided by Kitoto band.
NOTE: There is a £10 Discount fee for those coming after 9 p.m. These will not dine but just dance to the music of Kitoto Band starting 10.30 sharp till half past Midnight.
Who organised this event?
The story begins with two London ladies, Katie Martin and Phoebe Bryant. They said they fell in love with Tukolene Youth Centre while teaching English in Tanzania in 2002. Now years later settled and working they decided to do a charity concert to collect money for these youngsters.
Ben TV invited Katie and Phoebe to talk about the event last Thursday. After the interview, two members of Kitoto band, sang Kilimanjaro to boost the ocassion.
WE took a pic to remember. Two Ben TV presenters,John Uche(second from left) and Trish Adudu (first right),posing with Kitoto singer Christina (first left ) and myself (guitar), while Phoebe and Katie cheer on jubilantly.
Tickets are available by request email to or by contacting Katie on 07851 082051 or Phoebe on 07866 623066.
Venue Address : Hammersmith Town Hall, King's Str / Nigel Playfair, W6. Nearest tube : Ravenscourt.

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Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Latest: Nkwazi's Thought Provoking Blog

An interesting writer with alot to say about present African society.
I have just been reading his blog and find it extremely thoughtful and interesting. Ideas, views, thoughts and nail biting political analysis. Nkwazi Nkuzi Mhango calls his blog Free Thinking.

Some of you might have read his articles in This Day.
Check him out. You might learn a thing or two.
My favourite take on this guy's work is the balance between good language and catchy content.

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Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Meet Gloria Mutahanamilwa and...

...Burning Zeal: a trait that assures Results…

One afternoon in 1983, I recall strolling down the hot, scorching, sunny streets of Dar es Salaam with Kassim Magati, piano player and composer of Sunburst (the first band to have popularised the contagious Kitoto rhythm). We were talking about the hell and rough times of living in the Third World.
“You have to have a burning zeal to keep on going in Africa…”
He quipped suddenly, chuckling, wiping the streaming sweat from his face.
I remember a lot about this guy but I will never forget his key phrase:
Burning Zeal.
I find those words a living formula even after Kassim passed away prematurely in 1994 while working in Botswana. Burning Zeal is a key signature, a rhythm, tempo, insignia that may be applied to any individual lighting the fire to improve lives, better the world, refresh buttons. Just like our blogging guest today; 35 year old, Gloria Mutahanamilwa. This unassuming, articulate, intelligent lady, lives in London where she is in the last stages of her Masters degree in media studies at the East London University.
So then, folks.
Meet Gloria.

A name that means honour, exaltation, worth of praise, adoration, worship, splendour (glory of a king’s reign), radiant beauty, extreme happiness, triumph, pleasure…
Why blog this mother of two? To answer that let us not forget to mention Gloria’s husband, Mr. Bakari Mnkondo. Not many males will “allow” a young wife to leave home in Africa; abandon two boys (aged six and two) and go overseas for a while. Gloria says of the remarkable Bakari: “He lets me rove and be creative…”
Behind every successful man there is a woman; behind every successful woman there is, equally, a good guy. So the saying goes.

For ten years Gloria Mutahanamilwa was nursing a dream.
Having finished her studies (high school, journalism) then compulsory one year national military service; and having worked in various newspaper (and stringed for Voice of America radio), in between winning Woman Sports reporter of the year award (1996); she began travelling worldwide in 1997 and was bothered by one thing.
Where is Tanzania?
“ Every time I introduced myself coming from this huge East African country, people would ask stupidly…Tasmania? Where is this Tasmania? It annoyed me that nobody knew Tanzania…”
But, let us ask ourselves. What is the purpose of publicising countries?
Why go to India? Why China? Great Wall? Why London or Jamaica? Dance to reggae? Cuba? Smoke cigars, listen to Castro? Why Brazil? Watch football, dance to Samba, and experience the carnival? People go to countries they have heard about and eventually fall in love with them. Gloria says Tanzania has so much to offer but is unknown.

Her dream to make Tanzania known burned her continuously for the next decade until she bumped into Jane Hughes (another remarkable lady) organising the Welsh Conwy Food Festival in October 2007.
Creating a vision needs a Burning Zeal…
“We are not USA or Japan. People do not know us. We need to publicise ourselves. Tanzania is not just Mount Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar. Not all foreigners want to come to Tanzania to see animals or climb mountains. Some want to eat or buy products. I usually go to Zanzibar to eat at Forodhani. Everyone has differing interests when they go somwhere…”

And how shall this be achieved?
“We need to sell the image of Buy Tanzania. Just like they have the Buy British slogan. We have a lot to show. We cannot rely on charity and begging.”
To win something, however, one has to knock doors…
For months Gloria made calls to ministries, companies, members of parliament, and you know what? No-one offered to help. Only two Tanzanian MP’s responded (Abdulkarim Shah of Mafia region) and Philip Marmo (currently Minister for Good Governance in President’s Office); who showed moral support. The rest never responded or gave positive comments. One Ministry official actually asked Gloria:
“Why not use the money you are spending phoning me up to buy yourself a shirt?”
Gloria responded that she wasn’t interested in a shirt but make Tanzania part of this international festival.
In the end she had to rely on herself, her family and a circle of friends.
Family love is very crucial in lighting these fires…
Gloria says she spent £4,800 which all came from her dear family and a list of friends and well wishers who we shall list below.
Her sister Jessica Mutahanamilwa travelled all the way from the USA a week before the Conwy event to give support. “The festival must happen…she kept encouraging,” Gloria recalls harrowing moments of despair, when she was even considering giving up.
A friend in need, is a friend, indeed…

Welsh band at the festival poses with Abu Faraji and Jessica (Gloria's sister). Pic by Gloria.
There were people with a heart. Like the Othman family. Saidi Yakubu Othman, blogged Gloria’s efforts long before the task was even known, going there, taking photos, and highlighting it.
Saidi Othman, designed her website, free of charge. It took a month, but it was worth it. One of the key phrases in the Gloria’s website is this statement about Tanzanian tradition:

Uli Kyusa leads a traditional South Tanzanian dance (Tunogele) played by Sam Mbogo drummers. Behind her, Justina Ngolle struts her thing while Gloria (far back waves a flag). (Pic by Jessica Mutahanamilwa).
And the Group of Twenty Five. These great 25 darlings travelled with Gloria to Conwy on October 27th and 28th. They helped with transport (Kora the unselfish driver), rent, logistics but most important, making food.
Zainab Makasala; Uli Kyusa from London, Justina Ngolle from High Wycombe, all cooked; while Sam Mbogo Troupe provided traditional drumming (ngoma) music.
Mrs. Rahma Rajab Nzeri spoke of Tanzania’s food etiquette at the festival. Plus others who helped in miscellaneous ways: Aunt Aggy,Ciddy Kikenya and Beatrice.
Not forgeting : Mwanaidi Mlolwa (of Tanzania Fisheries),Mr. Sumari and Asia Kizza- Mtambalike who travelled to Tanzania for resources.
Abu Faraji of TZUK.NETwas present throughout, including highlighting the festival on his website. According to Gloria two distinct individuals Abu Faraji and Mrs Rahma Rajab-Nzeri, gave a very important contribution that ensured the Tanzania Food and Culture 2007 happening.
Sylvester Chacha was a handy man; available for any DIY stuff.
Doctor Khoza from Hastings did not attend but offered some very unique advice…
Success stories.
Every consistent effort brings Rewards.
Gloria says they had only 20 Tanzanian flags to give away. Many people including children were keen to have those flags but were disappointed by their unavailability. So next time, give more flags to Gloria, Tanzanian Government.
There was the interesting story of the MBUZI.

Literally, mbuzi, (check picture above of Justina Ngolle with two eager fans); means, goat. But in Swahili, mbuzi, is not just an animal but also a gadget used to grate the coconut in so many tropical recipes. This act of grating coconut (to extract the milk) attracted the attention of many festival attendees.
IT was a success...
Gloria says they have been invited again next year( the festival will be on 25th and 26th Oct, 2008) ; hopefully there will be more support from higher quarters and sponsors.
Speaking about Gloria Mutahanamilwa, events organiser, Jane Hughes who has been living in Wales for three decades, says:
“Gloria is wonderful, dynamic, and enthusiastic. She is just the kind of person I was looking for…”
The said festival, by the way, won the Best Welsh Community Events Award this year.

Gloria being interviewed by a UK television crew.
(Pic by Jessica Mutahanamilwa)..

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Monday, 12 November 2007

Twelve of November...a poem

...first written at Aylmer, Quebec, Canada, 12th November ,1994

when mr. and mrs. god made the world they both knew
houses would glow, flowers shine, cars screech scratch with laughter

mrs. Goddess was the ultimate princess
just like the kings and queens who rule earth’s kingdoms with so much evil today
forgetting the past working for the future that seems bleak
like star trek video games
distorted ,dignified , but worried...

cockroaches used to live in palaces
with mosquitoes as their efficient servants. then came adam-eve and their gang
they invented : conquer, plunder, investment with multi-pesticides pollution…
everybody fled!
elephants, snakes, lions, ruled the jungles
the fish decided waters should be best hiding. everybody started killing everyone. multi pesticides, bullets: survival of the fittest

mmmmh….today. ladies walk tall (feeling low)
men’s eyes hide in fears , guns & beers
the drunk, drugged, stoned shout their myths of a lost
…erection....viagra, viagra, viagra...

parents sleep in separate bedrooms. kids learn to die of loneliness, restlessness, confusion very early on loving hip-hop, ecstasy
becoming masters of spiritual emptiness
(the law of the jungle that god knows so well)

christmas comes.
families eat, belch, embrace
but soon running back to snow, jobs & taxes
extremists, meantime blow bombs : create fear
talking of the end of the world. they love to terrorise those with a power of peace, innocence, providence, excellence, prudence, intelligence….

you are never sure when is your next meal!
you are never sure how long you will live!
floods! hurricanes! famines! earthquakes! wars! AIDS! ozone fear!
sp i r i t u a l h u n g e r!

god! goddess! god!
don’t just sit there ! you made this movie , please sir!
heal your house ! recreate us! bandages are needed…
mrs. goddess give peace makers and lovers more power!
Lets dance the choreography of optimism …
God, do something your highness!

...give more power to lovers and peacemakers!

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Wednesday, 7 November 2007

A Photo from the Past...

Playing Music in Capelinha, Salvador, Bahia...1993.

It was a hot day. Summer. Few weeks before Christmas 1993.
Salvador is a special place. This used to be Brazil's capital for several centuries, until Rio De Janeiro became THE city. Nowadays Brasilia is the government's nexus. You rarely hear of tourists and visitors going to Brasilia, around the Amazon forest. Chiefly because there is no sea, no beaches, nothing of the kinky stuff that attracts folks to Salvador and Rio. So then, i would like to talk about this photo, taken by who?
The neighbourhood is São Caetano de Capelinha, right at the heart of Salvador, credited as one of the poorest and "most dangerous" in the city. In the blue distance you can catch the Atlantic ocean. When checked carefully, a bit of the architecture can be seen as well; typical Portuguese housing style; Roman almost in outlook and history.
From left is the bass player, also called Freddy. Freddy is one of the coolest dude i have ever played with. He rarely spoke and when he did it was very quiet; lots of sense and played the most amazing bass lines.
I am clutching the guitar which i still own and play today, an acoustic-electric Takamini, except that i have changed the suitcase, since that day. You can vaguely see all the stickers, taken from thousand places i had been.
Then Denilson. Holding his kit-drum pedals. Exceptionally gifted musician and storyteller. He played kit drums and percussion. He is the man who helped shape my Samba rhythms and i learnt a lot about tambourine (called "Pandeiro" in Brazil) from him. You cannot play Bossa Nova or Samba well, if you don't know the Pandeiro, which is as central to Brazilian music as tablas are to Indian music. The word Pandeiro, according to historical sources, as told by the late, English writer, Peter Fryer, in his exciting book "Rhythms of Resistance", comes from "Bandir" (an Arab word) and is Middle East, in origin. World wide, we call it the tambourine. Dielson loved to talk apart from music, the economic misery of this region, where most of the art movements in the country originates. Here, the highest number of slaves from Africa (globally) were taken and to date 80% of the Bahia population is of African origin. The subsequent inter marriage with native Indians and the Portuguese, has in several centuries, produced the most beautiful looking humans.
Denilson would remind us.
Samba began in Bahia. Capoeira, the Brazilian martial arts began here. Samba Reggae (also known as Axé Music) as well; "yet you find the most absurd poverty in Brazil here."
At one point I got a scabby (skin itching) infection while playing Capoeira barefoot, it was spreading and i scratched like a man possessed. Denilson, joked that scratching, was part of the dancing culture of the region, that to feel "the love" one had to scratch and understand the agony. Metaphorical, huh?
Intelligent Dielson was a twin and it was his brother, Dielson, who snapped this pic.
These twins were however, complete opposites. Whereas Denilson roved and drummed with no spouse yet; Dielson was a practical man, with nothing much to say, raising a huge family; his kids running around, in this dilapidated impoverished area, filled with pick pockets, guns, stray dogs and cats.
At the far right is Daniel, a cheerful American keyboards player. Daniel was always having fun. We hanged around the Porto beach alot where women would flock around and i recall him asking me :
"Fred (Americans always call me Fred instead of Freddy), what do all these girls see in me? My body is not as well chiseled as these Brazilian guys. Tell me. In California no woman looks at me but here I am the man!"
It was a funny, interesting topic which we looked at with laughing eyes. Music brings people together, makes instant pals, and may raise crucial questions without any qualms.
This particular day we had been in a studio top of this high building and tried recording a song of mine, which i would re-record years later : I Wanna Kiss You.
I have to repeat one thing about Salvador-Bahia.
In here you feel musical twenty four hours. Buses filled with chanting youths singing and drumming on the window panes and seats. Daily carnival. The actual carnival in February runs three days in the rest of Brazil, here it goes on forever. Bahia the region, Salvador the city: special place.
If you ever go to Brazil be there and learn the history especially of slavery, art, music and get to visit the home ofJorge Amado, in Pelourinho, one of the biggest writers in Latin America born and raised not so far from where we are standing.

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