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By Alex Perullo
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Indiana University Press, 2011

ISBN 978-0-253-22292-3

496 Pages

PURL 1.3 | Performance: Mabaga Fresh “Hakuna Noma” (No Problem)

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Media reference: page 23   

About this recording

Joined by the group Manzese Crew, Mabaga Fresh segues into their most popular song, "Hakuna noma" (No Problem). The song was a radio hit and an anthem for many disadvantaged youth. One of the rappers for Mabaga Fresh also states, "You may dance. We are not at a funeral."

In live performance, Mabaga Fresh are highly praised for their willingness and ability to dance on stage. Dance here acts symbolically to show the audience that obstacles—in this case JB's inability to use his legs—do not prevent one from succeeding. JB dances, using both arms and legs, much to the audience's delight.

The concert: This concert features several Tanzanian rap and R&B groups who perform some of their current hits. The event was the release of Mr. II's album Muziki na maisha [Music and Life]. It took place at the poolside of the Kilimanjaro Hotel in downtown, Dar es Salaam. The audience numbered around five hundred when Mr. II went onstage, but the majority of these people are not visible in the video as they were sitting at the far end of the pool, away from the stage. Researcher Alex Perullo stood near the speakers during the event to record better-quality audio—the sound was poor directly in front of the stage—and, during the course of the event, viewers may notice the camera becoming less steady. As the better performers appeared onstage, more audience members gathered to dance or—for many of these youth—bump into one another. Although Perullo was standing with other media persons, they were also participants in the dance movements of the crowd.

The genres of music performed at the concert generally fall under the label "bongo flava," a term that encompasses many youth sounds that incorporate danceable rhythms with a rap or R&B style of singing. Many Tanzanian rappers, however, dislike the bongo flava label, arguing that it applies mainly to commercial popular music. These artists often use other labels, such as hip hop, zouk, and even names that they invent themselves, such as Mr. Nice's takeu (Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda) sound. At the time of this concert, however, most people only made distinctions between rap, R&B, and ragga. The other categories appeared several years later.

For other videos from this event, see PURLs 1.1, 1.2, 1.5, 1.7, 3.6, 3.8, 5.5, 5.8, and A.1.