OBITUARIES

The singer, musician and composer PATRICK BALISIDYA (58) died on August 7 last year. He made his name through the hit Harusi (wedding) which is played at nuptial ceremonies around Tanzania. Like his better-known colleague, the late Hukwe Zawose, he was a member of the Gogo tribe from Dodoma. He began his musical career playing guitar for the Dar es Salaam Jazz Band in 1967. By 1970 he had formed his own group ‘Afro 70’. He shied away from the Congolese soukous sound then dominating East African music, instead drawing inspiration from the thumb piano and vocal melodies of Gogo tradition. At the height of his popularity in 1979 he visited Sweden and collaborated with the progressive rock group ‘Archimedes Badkar’ on their album Bado Kidogo (not yet). As an early example of world music fusion, it was notable mostly for the way the headliners were relegated more or less to the role of backing band on their own recording by their African guests. (Thank you Trevor Jagger for sending this obituary from the Independent – Editor) .

Dr. AUGUSTINE MACHA has died. He was the first Tanzanian to achieve a PhD in Animal Genetics. He resisted the temptation to earn big money working overseas and returned home to seek work. After completing his BVM&S at Edinburgh University he was appointed Regional Veterinary Officer in Kagera Region. There he saw people starving from lack of protein, while he was busy treating sick cats and dogs. His dream was to make the local breeds of cattle better producers using local husbandry methods. The Mpwapwa breed is now an internationally registered and recognised breed and is a living monument to his life’s work. He became Director General of Tanzania’s Livestock Research Organisation and subsequently undertook several international consultancy assignments (Thank you Nancy Macha for sending us these details about your late husband – Editor).

NDALA KASHEBA died in Dar-es-Salaam in October 2004. A veteran of the East African music scene, Kasheba was an important musical force in Tanzania since the 1970’s when he first immigrated to Dar Es Salaam from the Congo. He was known as one of the greatest African guitarists, appointed the title “Maestro” by his fans. Ndala Kasheba’s music bore the stamp of his Congolese roots. With his booming tenor voice and big band ambiance, one inevitably thought of Franco in his prime. But Kasheba had a number of distinguishing qualities in his Swahili rumba sound, most notably his use of an electrified, 12-string acoustic guitar, which he overdubed to create a gorgeous, chiming ambiance. With his own group “Zaita Musica” he wrote songs such as “Dezo dezo” and “Kokolay” which were later massive hits for Tshala Muana. The group toured Europe in 1991 and Kasheba continued to perform as a solo guitarist as well as with his colleagues – Nguza Viking, King Kiki, Kassongo Mpinda Clayton, Kibambe Rhamadhan,
Delphin Mununga, and others on multiple nights a week in various Dar es Salaam clubs. He most recently came to London in 2003 and performed at several events wearing a trademark straw hat.

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