Werema Chacha – Wanaotembea Ndio Walio Hai (field recording)
This recording was made on 3 February in Bagamoyo, Tanzania. The artist recorded was Werema Masiaga Chacha, playing the Litungu, a Kurya instrument from the Mara region of Tanzania.
The Litungu is an 8-stringed, 4-note kurya instrument from Northern Tanzania made out of steel bowl covered in dry skin and sticks going through the skin into the bowl with adjustable tuning rope knobs that weaves in the strings. The instrument is accompanied by a stick that is attached to tiny bells.The musician controls the stick with his foot and strikes it against the frame of the litungu. The sound of the bells directs the rhythm of the dance moves.
Werema Chacha is a legendary traditional musician from Tarime in Mara region, the Northern part of Tanzania. He started performing traditional kurya music before the age of 15 after learning his musical skills from his uncle, who gave him his first Litungu, a kurya instrument that is similar to the nyatiti. At just 18-years-old, he was able to master the art of playing and making this instrument and became the go-to guy whenever there were events or shows around the district and later even across the nation and abroad. Chacha has proudly represented Tanzania since just after independence, receiving invitations to play in different countries all over the world. He was one of a select group of 27 traditional artists who were invited to form the national band that went on multiple tours within Tanzania and outside of the country. In 1981, he and the other band members became the first group of teachers for the newly formed arts college, which was institutionalized by the father of the nation, J.K. Nyerere in Bagamoyo. Chacha has lived there ever since. During his time in Bagamoyo, he has worked with the likes of the great Hukwe Zawose.
“Wanaotembea Ndio Walio Hai”
This song is sung in the kiKurya language with one section in kiSwahili.
The song says “those who walk are the ones that are alive”, and reminds the audience not to give up hope even when life is difficult because if you are still up and walking, you know you are still alive.