Urithi wa Leo – The New Heritage

Urithi wa Leo – The New Heritage

An event showcasing Tanzania’s traditional instruments with the sounds of today

Tanzania is home to 126 tribes, each with its own traditional instruments, rhythms, and sounds. But today, the heritage is at risk of dying out, as the knowledge of how to make and play the instruments fades because it hasn’t been passed to the next generation.

The Tanzania Heritage Project has been tracking down musicians and craftsmen who play and make traditional instruments and doing field recordings and interviews to contribute to the preservation of the sounds, histories, and knowledge that make up the musical culture that is now at risk.

Our new project, Urithi wa Leo, is how we hope to take this music to the people, by showcasing Traditional instruments and sounds performed by artists who are keeping the tradition alive while giving it a new twist.

In partnership with Nafasi Art Space

we present

Urithi wa Leo

Friday 5th February 2016

7pm – 10:30pm

featuring the following groups


Ze Spirits Band


Ze Spirits band is a group of talented young musicians from Bagamoyo, Tanzania. The members of the band have been playing together since they were between 7 – 10 years old. Their music is inspired by the vibes infused in Tanzanian traditional dances, sounds and rhythms with an added touch of contemporary grooves, which ignite power across their audience when they perform. The band has performed at multiple festivals in Tanzania and across the border in Kenya, the highlight being the local Karibu Music festival in 2015. The band currently is a home to six members who offer a dynamic, energetic and delightful combination of grooves and rhythms.

Werema Chacha

Werema Chacha and Halfan Omar Matitu

Werema Chacha and Halfan Omar Matitu

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. 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. He is now retired from teaching and playing, but has come out of his retirement specifically for this show.



Halfan Omar Matitu

Halfan Omar Matitu was born 66 years ago. His passion for music began when he was very young and by the age of ten he was already able to play the Zaramo Marimba. He gained popularity during 1967 when he and his band Mkwaju Ngoma were the real deal in the activities that were associated with the liberation and consequently independence of Tanganyika. They did pro-TANU performances and song compositions aimed at showing support to the only political party that existed during that time in Tanganyika.

In 1968, he joined the University of Dar es Salaam Arts Department to teach playing traditional drums and marimba. He then went on to participate in the Japan Arts Expo which took his career in music to new heights. After his return, he was hired by the Ministry of Culture in Tanzania. In 1981, he moved from Dar to Bagamoyo to joined the new group of teachers at the Bagamoyo Arts College, known as TaSUBa. He continued to teach playing traditional drums and marimba alongside teaching the students at the college how to fuse contemporary and traditional music.

Matitu retired from teaching at TaSUBa in 2010 and since then he has engaged himself in doing small business and being part of different music projects that involve Tanzanian traditional music. To continue his legacy, his last daughter has demonstrated a passion for music and Matitu has enrolled her in the same college that he once taught.


Ashimba Trio and Wika Band

Ashimba is a Tanzanian singer-songwriter and guitarist based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He released his debut album “Nuru Nyikani (on the Maisha Music label) in January 2009. His style is a combination of East African music with elements of Afro pop and acoustic music. In addition to Swahili, Ashimba sings and writes in various tribal languages. His lyrics talk about Tanzania, its rich nature, everyday life, and the importance of traditions, as well as the occasional friction that is created when the modern, globalized world rubs up against them. Joy and sorrow often walk hand-in-hand in Ashimba’s soulful songs.

In January 2012, Ashimba and producers Jussi Jaakonaho and Teho Majamäki held recording sessions in Bagamoyo with local musicians. One of the highlights of those sessions was a visit from the legendary taarab singer from Zanzibar, Bi Kidude. She sang on two of Ashimba’s songs. Ashimba has performed at Sauti za Busara, Karibu Music Festival, and many others. For this performance, Ashimba will be joined by Finnish musicians Linda Fredriksson and Samuli Majamaki as well as his Tanzanian band.


John and Anania

Anania Ngoliga and John Kitime have been friends and musicians on the Tanzanian music scene for years. Anania is a talented multi-instrumentalist, playing ilimba, harmonica, electric guitar, and more. He studied at the Buigiri School for the Blind and has played with The Jambos, Afriso Ngoma, Legho Stars, the Karafuu Band, and others. John Kitime learned to play acoustic guitar from his father, Francis Kitime, who was a well-known musician of his generation. In 1983 he joined Orchestra Mambo Bado which was headed by Tchimanga Assossa, and then moved to Orchestra Makassy, TX Seleleka, Tancut Almasi Orchestra, Vijana Jazz, Magoma Moto Sound and finally the Kilimanjaro Band. But the common thing between Anania and John is their love for traditional music; they have now created a duo, with Anania playing the ilimba and John playing the acoustic guitar in the finger picking style he learned from his father. The two have played numerous shows together, including tours in the USA and India with virtuoso banjo player Bela Fleck. John and Anania are also both members of Wahenga, the group recorded by THP and SoundThread in July 2015.


The MuDa Africa dancers

MuDA Africa is a not-for-profit company, which provides education in contemporary dance in Dar es Salaam. The dancers train at Nafasi Art Space and perform regularly at events there. MuDa is short for Music and Dance, and also means “time” in Swahili. Muda Africa seeks to integrate a contemporary, urban modern Africa with traditional knowledge and wisdoms, a circular understanding of time that represents the present with firm roots in the past and a clear understanding of the way forward into the future. The concept of time also alludes to movement, rhythm and space – all integral aspects of both music and dance.



We will also host a Masterclass workshop on the same day, from 2:30pm – 6pm (with lunch provided at 1:30pm), where the musicians will demonstrate how they play their traditional instruments and talk about how they are made. THP will also give a short talk about our work. This workshop will be an opportunity for young Tanzanian musicians to learn about their heritage and discuss how it can be maintained/fused with modern, electric music. The Workshop is limited to 40 spaces, so please email to reserve your spot.

Featured Instruments:


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 normally connected to a stick that is attached to tiny bells. These bells direct the rhythm of the dance moves.

Marimba (waZaramu)

The Marimba is a percussion instrument consisting of a set of wooden bars struck with mallets to produce musical tones. Most being made out of mninga wood, marimbas are famous instruments in many local tribes found across Tanzania. What sets them apart is the melody that each tribe maintains to give it a distinct sound. the waZaramu marimbas are famously found in the coastal area of Tanzania and are named after the Zaramu tribe.

Ilimba (Kalimba)

The Ilimba is a traditional instrument of the Gogo ethnic group and its most famous player in the 20th century was Hukwe Zawose, who developed a version of the instrument with between 66 and 72 metal keys.


Nafasi Art Space

Nafasi-Logo-Final_BlackNafasi Art Space is a centre for contemporary visual and performing arts in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Its aims to be the leading Contemporary Art  in Tanzania that provides a platform for artists through development, production and entrepreneurship in the Visual Arts by providing training, exchange and exhibition of contemporary arts locally, regionally and beyond.

Nafasi Art Space has been set up with the support of the Danish Government. It is one of its kind and filled up a much needed space for visual artists and the visual art world in Tanzania to work, train, exchange, and show their work and talents to the world. It gives opportunity for professional and upcoming artists to meet and for the audience to experience art. Nafasi is supported by the European Union, HIVOS, Danish Embassy, CKU and Vipaji Foundation.


Nafasi is situated at a large industrial plot in Mikocheni B, on the terrain of a former factory. Nafasi has built studios in the old warehouse and within our large plot. Nafasi is hosting currently 30 artist members who work in their studios and can exhibit in the gallery space. Nafasi organizes for them workshops, artists in residencies and art talks for the member artists. Next to the visual arts Nafasi has space for musicians, dancers and theatre makers who practice and perform at Nafasi, to connect the different art disciplines.

Nafasi is also open to the public. We organize monthly events to get the public acquainted with visual art in Tanzania via exhibitions, public art workshops and performing art events. These are well attended and attract a mixed crowd from young and old, professionals and amateurs, Tanzanians and expatriates.


Map to Nafasi Art Space