New film to celebrate Tanzania's zilipendwa music

New film to celebrate Tanzania’s zilipendwa music

Classic East African music from the 1960s, 70s and 80s, known as zilipendwa in Tanzania (or zilizopendwa in Kenya) – meaning literally “those who were loved” – today risks fading into oblivion, with only a handful of bands remaining active.

Fortunately, two like-minded people want to document and preserve the legacy of this infectious East African music in a new film. Filmmaker Amil Shivji and Rebecca Corey from the Tanzania Heritage Project (THP) are co-directing the documentary, dubbed Wahenga. Shooting is already underway in Tanzania.


In Tanzania, zilipendwa is considered something of a “meta-genre”, the characteristics of which vary depending on the time. The term was initially reserved for East- and Central African dance music that was popular during the post-independence period of the 1960s and early 70s, but over time came to describe the music of the mid-1970s through to the late 1980s, a time commonly associated with the socialist policies of president Julius Nyerere, whose policies ensured that Tanzania was a musical powerhouse of the entire region. In recent years, however, the genre has taken a hit from new sounds such as hip-hop. Fans of zilipendwa are most eloquent about its value in their lives when making humorous comparisons with bongo flava, the country’s own unique style of R&B-influenced hip-hop.

Read the original article on Music In Africa by Beth Achitsa

Read more about the Wahenga Documentary and more about the Wahenga Band.

Wahenga Documentary Teaser: