EOL 2: Kwayas, Kandas, Kiosks (Barz)


The emergence of popular forms of Tanzanian kwaya music reflects similar ongoing developments in Tanzanian popular urban dance musics. Both are products of the urbanization and modernization of the developing world, of East Africa's dialogue with the world of popular musics in particular. Popular kwaya music draws its inspiration from several sources: indigenous Tanzanian musics (ngoma), European hymnody, and other technological advances of Western popular musics. The newer, more popular kwaya style is now firmly rooted in the kwaya singing tradition in Tanzania. The spread of its appeal has been aided by several factors:
  • readily available kandas of popular dance musics from Central Africa
  • tours of Southern African evangelical choirs
  • low-cost recording and production of kandas
  • energetic performances in the churches
  • weekly radio broadcasts of kwaya music over Radio Tanzania Dar Es Salaam (RTD).

The different musical genres produced by Tanzania kwayas--popular, folk, indigenous, traditional, Western/American/European, mapambio, improvisatory, revival--are in constant dialogue with each other and also with contemporary popular musical genres from Europe, southern Africa, and America. The acceptance and approval of popular kwaya music confirms an expanding openness to foreign music ideas and commodities. Kwaya music continues to negotiate between its colonial and mission past as it participates in the development of post-Uhuru, post-Ujamaa (post-independence, post-socialism) Tanzania. Contemporary kwayas often exist in two or more worlds, and the growing variety of styles of kwaya music reflects this dialectical relationship.

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