The Artists


The Swahili rumba craze, which lasted from the 1930s all the way until the mid-1980s, saw dozens of bands performing throughout the city almost night of the week. Live performances drew thousands of fans across Dar es Salaam and around the country. 

During Tanzania’s socialist period, all of the bands were sponsored by a diverse range of state-run and private organisations. The musicians worked for these organisations as employees, and in turn, the employers would provide instruments and spaces in which to practice and perform. For example, Uhamiaji Jazz was run by the immigration department, Magereza by the prisons, Viana Jazz by the youth wing of the ruling political party, and NUTA Jazz by the Tanzanian workers’ union.

With support from music researchers and historians, we are pleased to provide information and archival photos of the artists that helped make Tanzanian music great. We also include contemporary artists who help carry the tradition forward.

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Explore the Artists

Leo Mkanyia

Leo Mkanyia playing live in Stonetown, Zanzibar. Video by Geert van den Boogaard in cooperation with the Tanzania Heritage Project.

Kilwa Jazz Band

GV Vinyl The GV vinyl records became popular in so many parts of Africa and propelled the rooting of contemporary music in Africa to date....
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Intimate Rhumba

(Photo: Intimate Rhumba on stage; amongst the people on it are: first on the left; Mawazo, Hunja, third is Kabeya Badu, King Kiki and the...
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The Strokers

The Strokers were a band of musicians from Upanga, Dar es Salaam. The Strokers had two phases, the first phase with musicians including Donald Max,...
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