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.