There Is A Music…


There is a distinctive flair music
That spices the East African coastal life.
From Kisumayu, all the way to Kilwa
Seafarers and explorers always seek,
The comfort of Kanun on frenzy
And the soothing Violin on high note
When they’re past the rough storms.

Lessons for the living color its lyrics,
Lovebirds’ longings and wanting
Are all expressed in the music,
Merry-makers lack words to explain
The blissful beats of the African drums
Which vibrates and resounds Taarab music
Beyond the borders of East Africa coast

There is a music which welcomes visitors
To the sunny sandy beaches of Zanzibar,
Where when Said Bargash was the ruler
He chose music over robes to wear;
Importing the Egyptian musicians,
He then sent Ibrahim Muhammed to Cairo
To learn music
Who returned with complete Orchestra
And face-lifting the music with Swahili lyrics
formed a Taarab band to entertain the Sultan

Taarab is laden with the ways of the world
Swahili, Arabic and Egyptian cultures
The thrilling Nikiti dance movements;
Borrowed Indian style, brought improvement
In the Taarab music performance,
The lulling of Ney Flute from Middle East
Blends without bending the rhythms

Before the Accordion melody ripples out
I must mention trailblazer Siti binti Saad
She who sang and led women in singing
Their way out of the biased culture of her time,
When in Zanzibar, her home town-
women musicians were frowned upon
her sonorous voice was filling an Album
in the Columbia Music Recording Company,
When women musicians were ridiculed
Her prowess spilled over the East African boarder
And the world came to listen to her sing,
Thus demystifying women’s role in Taarab.

There is a music I love to listen to
When the ocean is calm
when the waves are rough
when the stealthy cool breeze invades the shore,
every time, anywhere
Taarab is the sweetest, greatest music.