FM: Tell us about the floods...
DM: The situation especially in Queensland is dire. Today the river has subsided so relief to the people affected by this disaster. A lot of clean up is currently taking place and we are wishing for a quick recovery to the people and economies of Queensland and New South Wales.
Do you like it there?
I am settled and one has to reconcile with their immediate nest. Yes, we have a reasonably large Tanzanian community in Australia, let alone Melbourne. Good to catch up for a good laugh and that Bongo sense of humour...
What do you do?
I am a Lawyer by trade but have largely worked in Community Development, CUSO (Canadian University Services Overseas) and its equivalent here in Australia where I was managing the Zimbabwean and Mozambican programs when I arrived. I later worked for RMIT University for 18 years and my last position was with Monash College both leading institutions in Australia. Musically, I was connected to the African scene immediately upon arrival. I have played with various bands since: Clan Swahili, Musiki Manjaro and currently the Public Opinion Afro Orchestra which plays Afro Beat.
Young people in Tanzania do not quite know you as you come from the Seventies generation one of the most significant era of our music.
You are right, the 1970’s saw the emergency of good music and rise of Soul, Funk, Rock, Rumba, Afro Beat, talk about Jimi Hendrix, Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Wilson Pickett, James Brown, Aretha, The Temptations, George Benson, BB King, Franco, Fela Kuti, Lipua Lipua, Fauvette, Buddy Guy, Sparks, Maquis du Zaire, Groove Makers, Tonics, NUTA Jazz, Rifters and many more. I was influenced by this sudden surge of synergy. I played guitar since 11 years young in Arusha and Dar around 16 years. Arusha and Dar were booming with music so I played with the Funky Mob, Hijackers, Shades of Time in Arusha and Dar Comets, Sound of Hope, Watafiti and managing Tatu Nane in the 1990’s.
I love Tanzania my spiritual home and Malawi my home country. I have a special affinity to Tanzania for its hospitality and the care extended to so many refugees who landed there. President Nyerere is my hero for having extended that Liberation principle to us in reverse of the oppression that was going on in Malawi then. I always wanted for the situation in Malawi to change, it did not and I had to make a decision with my family to leave for Australia, where there was good provided education for the kids. This was not an easy decision as I love my Ugali, Samaki choma and the energy Africa delivers top soul and heart.
Many overseas African musicians are forced to do jobs they do not like (e.g. cleaning, security guards, etc) because it is not easy to make a living through music. What is your take on that?
The issue is how do you survive and make a name? Obviously hard work, discipline, vision, team playing if in a band, choose right groups, drop the ego, and be patience. Honestly speaking, it is not easy to survive as a musician unless you are really good? And make it in Africa then here. If you are really good, do not waste your time go to New York and hit it big like Richard Bona, Angelika Kidjo and Lionel Loueke...
Would you advice young Tanzanian musicians to go overseas and try their luck?
Yes if you are good, go for it. Recently I had the privilege of meeting my friends from In Africa here in Melbourne. They are doing really well. Read the contacts understand the business do not just say Napaa Majuu; there is No Majuu without plan and talent.
More info on Marama visit: http://www.thepublicopinion.net
-London, 18th January, 2011.
Also published in Citizen Tanzania