Siti Muharam, released her debut album, Siti of Unguja, in 2020 with her own rendition of her great-grandmother’s (Siti binti Saad) acclaimed taarab song, Kijiti.
Siti binti Saad was the first female singer of taarab and the performer who brought the music out of the Sultan’s court and to a mass audience by singing in Swahili and becoming the first musician from Zanzibar to make commercial recordings in 1929.
One of Siti binti Saad’s songs that is most treasured by taarab enthusiasts is Kijiti, a song composed to protest the injustices encountered by women. Kijiti was never recorded by Siti for commercial release, but was learned by other female taarab singers from Siti’s live performances and sustained by the oral tradition through women’s taarab groups.
Look you all, look at what Kijiti has done,
To take a guest and force her to run from his chase.
He went with her to the bush and brought her back as a corpse…
This month (April 2021) will mark the 49th anniversary of the death of Kwame Nkrumah, the revolutionary leader of Ghanaian independence and visionary advocate of the Pan-African movement. As President, Nkrumah oversaw Ghana’s rapid industrial development and invested in national educational facilities. He played a key role in the development of the Organisation of African Unity (now the African Union).
They blinded him
For his vision…
The annual Ọ̀ṣun-Òṣogbo Festival takes place in the capital city of Osun State in Nigeria and lasts fourteen days. The festival celebrates the discovery of the large river in Òṣogbo by Prince Ọlároóyè in the 18th century. Oba Ọlároóyè was a prince of the city-state Iléṣà, about 20 kilometers from Òṣogbo, who had led an exploratory expedition due to water-shortages in Iléṣà. Yorùbá mythology describes the expedition encountering a powerful goddess, Ọ̀ṣun, dwelling within the river who granted permission to these pioneers to settle near the river.
Aládékojú, I am calling on you
Hail My Beloved Mother Aládékojú…
This is a funeral dirge from Ghana that was performed to honour Otumfuo Opoku Ware II, the 15th King of the Asante Kingdom who died in February 1999. The artists are Manhyia Tete Nwomkoro Kuo (the “Traditional Nnwonkoro Group from Manhiya”).
I am grateful to the South African poet, Vusi Mchunu, for the following elegy dedicated to the Afro-German poet, educator and activist May Ayim.
It is a long fall from the concrete heights of Kreuzberg
It is a long way to the hill of Alt St. Matthaeus Cemetery…