In one evening we raised a staggering £1450 for the Zawose foundation. ADV crew would like to thank everyone for their support. 'long live their music'!
Zawose Family Arrive at Drum village
Everyone danced to celebrate their arrival
The Zawose family performing at drum village
The wonderful Zawose family at Drum Village 2007
A documentary about their families plight was shown on the Thursday.
This was the first ever public showing of the documentary
Afrodisiac donated £500 towards their cause.
We would like to say a BIG BIG thanks to those who gave very generously to the Zawose family. Special mention the Rhythm-bridge foundation, Shetland's Aestaewast, Stranrear group. for their generous contributions.
Tanzanian multi-instrumentalist Hukwe Ubi Zawose was born at a time when his East African nation was lorded over by British colonizers, who claimed the so called Tanganyika territory after World War I. The British then established Tanzania, using the name in an attempt to forge a national identity from the territory's 120-plus different cultures. Tanzanians worked the fields all day, picking the few crops indigenous to the region. The British would then take the harvest and export it, passing on no wealth back to the local laborers.
Hukwe Zawose grew up as a cattle farmer during these difficult times. He was a member of the Wagogo people, and, like any other field-working people, the Wagogos sang while they worked. From an early age, Zawose's voice stood apart from the others in the fields. His was a loud, deeply passionate bellow with an incredible range that emanated from the middle of his throat. It was as if young Hukwe had listened to and empathized with every Tanzanian struggling to earn a living working on the plantations, and had distilled the collective experience of his people into one heart-rending sound.
The sound coming from this young boy's mouth did not go unnoticed for long. Soon, he was walking from village to village, entertaining the working Tanzanians with his singing. Meanwhile, a grassroots uprising was fomenting in Tanzania, led by Julius Nyerere. Throughout the 1950's, he spoke to his fellow Tanzanians and added to a burgeoning sense of nationhood in the country. Inspired by Nyerere's vision, Tanzania's separate ethnic groups did indeed start to become a unified whole. The Tanzanians were able to shake off their British oppressors, and in 1961, Nyerere became the first prime minister of the newly independent Tanzania. He got to work improving Tanzania's education and health care; grateful citizens lauded him as "the Father of the Nation."
Throughout all this, Zawose had grown exponentially as a singer. He traveled farther and wider than before, leaving behind legends of his astonishing voice everywhere he went. Zawose grew as a musician, too. He learned to play ilimba (giant thumb piano), izezs (traditional violins), filimbi (traditional flute), and nguga (ankle bells). He also began to write and perform his own compositions along with the traditional story-based and political celebration songs of his culture.
Zawose was taking off as a musician, but it wasn't until Julius Nyerere invited him to his state residence in the Tanzanian capital of Dar-es-Salaam that he found himself in the stratosphere. He performed for the prime minister, and upon his return, he was received as a hero, a legend of almost mythical proportions. Fantastic stories were born: Zawose is an immortal, divine creature; Zawose's voice possesses magical healing powers.
In response to these rumors, Zawose created a grand persona. When performing on stage, he and his band began to don elaborate masks and costumes. Throughout the 1970's and 80's, Zawose and his band performed all over the country, supported by the government and the ubiquitous Radio Tanzania. In 1996, the first Zawose album available in the U.S. was released. Chibite (Real World), a mix of Zawose's own songs and traditional Tanzanian compositions, received considerable acclaim. By no means an easy listen, but possessing a kind of spiritual power, the songs were produced to preserve the earthy, raw quality of Zawose's live performances.
Hukwe Zawose may be perceived by some as an immortal being, but in fact, he lives a traditional Tanzanian life with his four wives and fifteen children, one of whom, Charles, is his constant companion on stage. Despite his officially sanctioned success, Zawose hasn't lost his political edge: earlier this year he was involved in an AIDS benefit album, Spirit of Africa (Real World). The track "Kuna Kunguni/The Bedbugs Bite," comes from Zawose's first venture into fusion music, a collaboration with Canadian guitarist and producer Michael Brook. If anything, the extraordinary power of Zawose's voice seems to increase with age. That voice still twists and ululates and induces tears in listeners; it is still tragic and hopeful all at once; it is still the voice of 120 Tanzanian tribes, uniting into one living, breathing whole.