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By Alex Perullo
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Indiana University Press, 2011

ISBN 978-0-253-22292-3

496 Pages

PURL 8.5 | Performance: Mvita Dancing Troupe, “Haiwezekani” (It Is Not Possible)

Media reference: pg. 359   

About this recording

Mvita Dancing Troupe plays their first song, "Haiwezikani" (It Is Not Possible) in the mchiriku style of music. The keyboardist's father, Athumani Manjunju started the group in 1972. The group uses an amplifier and a public address horn to amplify the keyboard and vocals. An electrical wire runs from the neighbor's house into the alleyway to provide power for the small PA. There are three drummers. The one in the middle and the one on the right provide the steady, repeating rhythm throughout this song. The percussionist on the left is the lead drummer. He provides many solo breaks throughout the song, and often pushes the singer to perform more dramatically. Only one microphone is used for both the keyboard and the singer.

Here are the lyrics to the first part of the song, first in Swahili and then in English. 

Haiwezekani (jaamani)

Watanzania jitihada

Haitashindikana kumweza mwenyezi Mungu

Inawezekana jaamani

Sote kwa pamoja

Tutashirikiana na ndugu nzetu tule nao

Aliyefariki dunia kwa ajili ya meli

M.V. Bukoba kwenye Ziwa Victoria

Ili tuondoshe jamani katika harakati ya kuinua uchumi wa taifa letu

Taifa letu changa-eh.


It’s not possible (people)

Tanzanians [who are] diligent

It’s not possible to praise the Lord

It is possible people

For us to go together

Let’s work together as family and share a meal together

S/he died in a boat accident

M.V. Bukoba on Lake Victoria

Come together people to make our national economy better

Our nation is young [underdeveloped].

Mchiriku is derived from a traditional Zaramo ngoma. It preceded hip-hop as a popular music among youth and is thought to have emerged in Dar es Salaam in the early 1970s. Often consisting of traditional drums, amplified voice, and keyboard, the music flows in continuous, repetitive cycles with lyrics that address social and political issues facing local populations. Mchiriku groups perform at weddings, small neighborhood gatherings, and naming or circumcision ceremonies. 

For other songs by Mvita Dancing Troupe, see PURL A.5.