Nadi Ikhwan Safaa (Malindi Taarab)
pic: Nadi Ikhwan Safaa by Yusuf Mahmoud
Founded in 1905, Zanzibar’s oldest orchestra can probably trace its roots back further than any other orchestra in Africa. Every known musician from Zanzibar has at some point or other performed or played with “Malindi” (as they are also affectionately known).
Nadi Ikhwan Safaa (Malindi) Musical Club, was founded following the Sultan’s intention to create recreational associations on the island. The name itself means “brothers who love one another”, and reflects the egalitarian and supportive aims of the club. The Club has been one of the main currents in Zanzibari music throughout this century – sales of their cassettes used to comprise the bulk of the cassette copy-shops’ trade. After the revolution in 1964, the name was changed to the Malindi Musical Club and affiliated to the local Party branch, but it is now reverting to the original name. This means that its orchestra is currently known by either name on the island.
After the revolution, the club became open to women members. In their clubhouse where the members meet regularly to rehearse is a store room for the instruments, and a long room lined with pictures of the Club’s history. The Club has visited Kenya, Burundi, Oman and Dubai, and recently performed in the UK at the Music Village Festival in London during 2002.
Ikwani Safaa is Zanzibar’s premier Musical Club. Celebrating their 99th anniversary in 2004, this gathering of hobby musicians from all walks of life is still going strong. Here is taarab in its original beauty – delicate poetry, outstanding vocal performances, which reveal in their elaborate ornamentation the close connection to their Arabic roots, and finely chiseled instrumentals.
Culture Musical Club
pic: Culture Music Club by Herb Fenstein
Culture Musical Club began life as part of the youth organisation of the Afro Shirazi Party during Zanzibar’s struggle for independence in 1956. Today Culture Musical Club is not only the largest, but also one of the most prolific and successful orchestras of Zanzibar and they present taarab music, Swahili style, at its best. In addition to innumerable performances in Stone Town, villages of Zanzibar and on Tanzania mainland, this group has toured internationally with outstanding success and has won over audiences in France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, the Arab Emirates and Reunion.
They perform new compositions on a regular basis and have developed a distinct and uniquely Swahili style. Their CD-releases have made the name Culture Musical Club known to audiences throughout the world so much so that rehearsals in their clubhouse have become somewhat of a tourist attraction. This, however, does not interfere with the first and foremost aim of their social gathering – namely to enjoy music and “to be moved” by it, as the original meaning of the word “taarab” implies.