Update #20: John Kitime Weighs In

Hi everyone! Less than 20 hours left in our Kickstarter campaign. Thank you so much for helping us to reach $15,000! How much farther can we get in the last day? For our last update before the end, I’m honored and excited to bring you this message from John Kitime, whom I mentioned several times in updates as a legendary Tanzanian musician and fierce campaigner for musician’s rights.

Here’s what Mr. Kitime has to say about the project, with an important note regarding conservation (taking care of what already exists) at the end:

“As a Tanzanian musician, I am very happy to hear of any project that would save the fantastic TBC library.  I have been a participant to two past efforts to digitize the library, the first time when two German friends of mine approached TBC, then under the name RTD to revive the library, The Director did not understand and she did not even bother to listen to the end of the story, and got rid of us.

Again quite recently with a Norwegian music producer we approached the Director of TBC, and after a very warm meeting we were promised that we would be informed of TBC’s decision, it never came. So now that something is happening I am extremely happy.

But, I have been reading on the process of the digitization and I see something serious that is missing. Some of those tapes have been lying there for more than 50 years without having been touched; the storage there isn’t the best in the world. There should be an initial step of reviving these tapes to their original texture and quality before they could be copied, other wise the good intentions might end up in destroying forever these historic tapes.”

What John says here is extremely important on a couple of fronts. First of all, we are not the first people to attempt this important endeavor, but we certainly intend to be the last. We understand that there have been obstacles from the government in the past but we’re confident that now, because of the urgency of the digitization, the availability of affordable technology, and the passion and commitment of our team, we can make this happen.

John understands, as do we, that the Radio Tanzania reels are extremely delicate. Some of them will have to be “baked” and this process is exactly what it sounds like– putting the reels in an oven so that they can be played again. Obviously, this is risky business that only experts can be expected to do when you only have one try to get it right.

So all of this means that before we even get started on the digitization, we have a lot of work to do. We need to make sure the room where the tapes are stored are finally equipped with climate control. We must hire (or take the time to acquire) the technical expertise necessary to handle such valuable and delicate materials. And it is you, our Kickstarter backers, who are helping us to do this. Any people out there reading these emails and still trying to decide whether to contribute? Now is your chance, and we need your help.

Together, always, for the music,

The Radio Tanzania Team

For our followers who can speak Kiswahili (or even those that don’t– there are pictures!), here are links to John Kitime’s blogs, where he writes about life as a musician, reviews shows, and talks about copyright, intellectual property, and the struggle of Tanzanian musicians to receive compensation for their work.


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