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…