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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bongo Flava (or Bongoflava) is a nickname for Tanzanian music. The genre developed in the 1990s, mainly as a derivative of American hip hop and traditional Tanzanian styles such as taarab and dansi, with additional influences from reggae, R&B, and afrobeats, to form a unique style of music.[1] Lyrics are usually in Swahili or English, although increasingly there has been limited use of words from Nigerian languages due to the influence of afrobeats.

The name "Bongo Flava" is a corruption of "Bongo Flavour", where "bongo" is the pluralised form of the Swahili word ubongo, meaning "brain", and a common nickname for Dar es Salaam, the city where the genre originated, or sometimes for all of Tanzania. In bongo flava, the symbolism of "brains" may additionally refer to the cunning and street smarts of the msela (see below).[2]

History

Taji Liundi, also known as Master T, the original creator and producer of the Dj Show program had already started airing songs by fledgling local artistes by late 1994. Radio hosts Mike Muhagama and Taji Liundi led the way in radio support of local artists.[3] Mike Mhagama eventually joined the popular program as an under-study to Taji Liundi. He went on to produce and present the show alone after Taji Liundi left Radio One in 1996.

"Bongo Flava" existed well before the first audio or video recordings. The youth in Dar es Salaam were rapping at beach concerts (organized by Joseph Kusaga and Ruge Mutahaba, who together own Mawingu Discotheque, Mawingu Studios and now Clouds Media Group), local concert halls and taking part in the first official rap competition called Yo! Rap Bonanza series that were promoted by Abdulhakim "DJ Kim" Magomelo under his promotion company "Kim & The Boyz".

Some of the youth were organized with fancy names, some were solo or formed impromptu groups at the event to get a chance to perform. An icon of the open performance artistes in the early 1990s was Adili or Nigga One. The first influential dub artiste of the genre was Saleh Jabir who rapped in Kiswahili over the instrumentals of Vanilla Ice's, "Ice Ice Baby", he was solely responsible for making Kiswahili a viable language to rap in. His version was so popular, it broke ranks by receiving mild airplay in the conservative National Radio Tanzania. The first official rap song on Tanzanian airwaves.

One of the earliest groups to actually record and deliver a CD to Radio One for airing was Mawingu Band, an outfit that became hugely popular in early 1994. They recorded at Mawingu Studios. Its members were Othman Njaidi, Eliudi Pemba, Columba Mwingira, Sindila Assey, Angela, Robert Chuwa, Boniface Kilosa (a.k.a. Dj Boni Love) and later Pamela who sang the famous hook of their breakthrough first RnB/Rap single "Oya Msela". The song was so popular and ahead of its time that the Msela label stuck. 'Msela' is the Swahili word for 'ruffian'.

Popularity

Today, "Bongo Flava" is the most popular musical style amongst the Tanzanian youth,[4] something that is also reflected in the vast number of TV and radio programs dedicated to this genre as well as the sales figures of bongo flava albums.[5] Outside of its historical home of Tanzania, Bongo Flava has become a resoundingly popular sound in neighboring, culturally related countries such as Kenya[6] and Uganda. Bongo flava has even found a home outside of the African continent; the most popular artists in the genre have recently begun to address Western markets[1] and the self-proclaimed "best internet station for Bongo Flava,"[7] Bongo Radio, happens to be based out of Chicago, Illinois. There are now also playlists dedicate to the genre of global streaming platforms such as I-tunes and Spotify, increasing bongo-flava's visibility.

Despite the popularity of "Bongo Flava" and the large number of well-known artistes throughout Tanzania, copying of music is widespread due to the weak enforcement of copyright laws, and most artistes are unable to make a living selling their music. Instead, most rely on income from live performances to support themselves, or income from other business ventures, using their social influence as leverage. However, there are instances of 'success stories', the career of artist Diamond Platnumz, and producer-artist Nahreel are often cited as sources of inspiration for many artists and producers [8] And its popular DJ is Brian Haule widely known as Ngomanagwa.

Characteristics

While "Bongo Flava" is clearly related to American hip hop, it is also clearly distinguished from its Western counterpart. As the bongoflava.net website puts it, "these guys don't need to copy their brothers in America, but have a sure clear sense of who they are and what sound it is they're making". The sound "has its roots in the rap, R&B and hip hop coming from America but from the beginning these styles have been pulled apart and put back together with African hands".Recently with the increase in popularity of Afrobeats in East Africa,most Bongo flava songs have adopted the sound especially the 3+2 or 2+3 drum pattern of afrobeats but retaining the arabesque melodies of taarab thus resulting to reduction of hiphop influence in the genre.

The typical "Bongo Flava" artiste identifies with the mselah. It is in this sense that, for example, members of the hip hop crew Afande Sele call themselves watu pori, i.e., "men of the savannah". A sort of manifesto of mselah ideology is given by the song Mselah Jela by Bongo flava singer Juma Nature, who defines the mselah, amongst other things, as an "honest person of sincere heart".[9] Following the tradition of western hip hop (as represented by the pioneering hip hop group Afrika Bambaataa), bongo flava lyrics usually tackle social and political issues such as poverty, political corruption, superstition, and HIV/AIDS, often with a more or less explicit educational intent, an approach that is sometimes referred to as "edutainment".[10] Afande Sele, for example, have written songs that are intended to teach prevention of malaria and HIV. However, this has changed in recent years and increasingly many commercial Bongo Flava songs deal with topics such as love, heartbreak, success and hardship. This change in topic remains a point of contention between the earlier generation who saw the rise of Bongo Flava, and the new generation who tend to prefer catchy and club ready songs. Whether this is due to globalisation and western influence or due to a change in listener taste, is the question at the centre of the debate.


Some Bongo groups are very popular within their ethnic group; one example is the Maasai X Plastaz who developed their own subgenre known as "Maasai hip hop".[11]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Mueller, Gavin. "Bongoflava: The Primer." Stylus Magazine, 12 May 2005
  2. ^ Stroeken, Koen (Winter 2005). "Immunizing Strategies: Hip-Hop and Critique in Tanzania". Africa. 75 (4): 488–509. doi:10.3366/afr.2005.75.4.488.
  3. ^ "Mambo Jambo". Art in Tanzania. Archived from the original on 2020-02-29. Retrieved 2020-02-29.
  4. ^ (in Italian) Article on Bongo Flava Archived April 9, 2011, at the Wayback Machine at Antenne di Pace
  5. ^ Quade, Birgit and Martin, Lydia. "Top of the Hip Hops Bongo Flava and more in Dar es Salaam, 2004." <"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-03-17. Retrieved 2008-03-07.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)>
  6. ^ Mueller, Gavin. "Bongoflava: The Primer." Stylus Magazine, 12 May 2005.
  7. ^ "About Us." Bongo Radio. 2004. 6 March 2006. <"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-10-12. Retrieved 2008-03-05.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)>
  8. ^ "Top of the Hip Hops: Bongo Flava and more in Dar es Salaam, 2004". Archived from the original on March 17, 2008.
  9. ^ Mselah ni mtu safi, na ana moyo safi.
  10. ^ "Top of the Hip Hops: Bongo Flava and more in Dar es Salaam, 2004". Archived from the original on March 17, 2008.
  11. ^ "Bongo Flava: Swahili Rap from Tanzania". Archived from the original on 2005-12-17. Retrieved 2008-03-07.

External links

This page was last edited on 16 October 2021, at 04:20
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