They came, they performed, and they conquered.It was a full-on show-out extravaganza at the 8th edition of the Sauti za Busara festival, as thousands of people from different walks of life were treated to the band’s unique fusion and, did they prove their talent, wowing with their effortless chemistry and singing prowess.
Emerging onstage in traditional outfit and barefooted, with each male artiste wielding a musical instrument, Zanzibar’s well-known band, Black Roots, waxed a great performance - and set the tone of the show immediately with high-energy performance and helped make the show special.
The band exuded a genuine likeability and unforced charm that flattens any barriers between them and the audience -their style of music bridges cultural and generational gaps.
Founded in 1999 by Othman Mohamed, already a star in the Tanzanian film and music scenes, Black Roots, comprising nine artistes, is one of the island’s leading visionary cultural groups.
The band has participated in various traditional festivals, including the Dar es Salaam Mzalenda Halisi Festival and Bagamoyo National Arts Festival.
When Mohamed introduced himself shortly after the band’s performance, and said, “Hi everybody, I’m Othman Mohamed”, the crowd screamed out his name with a lot of energy and applause as a gesture for a job well done.
Through his mastered skills and raspy yet passionate vocals and energetic stage performance, Mohamed, the founder and front man of the band, demonstrated why the audiences idolise his work, as he beat the drum fervently, with the crowd clapping, waving their arms and dancing along with gusto.
“I started the band to promote our traditional music and fusion across the boards,” Mohamed says. “However, the band started with 15 members but some left to develop their music as solo artistes.”
The star, famous for his stage name, Mukambora, says he believes that the potent messages they convey through their music reaching all levels of society in Tanzania, are one of the reasons for the band’s success and popularity.
“We sing about reality in our society. Songs about life, love, marriage, families, divorce, employment and education,” he says.
The band has cooed their way into the hearts of Tanzanians with an endless string of themes and the intricate poetry. Their prowess and unity as a band is outstanding. The band has been immersed in the island’s art scene for 12 years.
Omar Yussuf, the band’s spokesman, states that although the band focuses on traditional music, it uses several modern instruments like, drums, makeshift high hat and shakers, trumpet, violin, flute, bass guitar and kit drums.
To keep their roots, the band created a unique music and genre which presents Zanzibar’s contemporary society and history by mixing African, Arabic and European instruments without losing the originality.
“Contemporary traditional music often makes use of the modern hit songs,” Ali Mbwana, who plays Masimba, a traditional drum, notes. “In contrast to the modern music, traditional music is more rhythmic and the lyrics more drastic than the poetic and subtle songs.”