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By Alex Perullo
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Indiana University Press, 2011

ISBN 978-0-253-22292-3

496 Pages

PURL A.4 | Concert: African Stars Performance in Mnazi Mmoja (dansi)

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Media reference: pg. 364   

About this recording

This song was one of African Stars's biggest hits in Tanzania. It was frequently played on the radio and the video for the song was often shown on television. "Laila" was composed by Ally Chocky, who was the leader of the band at the time (he then moved to other bands, before reuniting with African Stars in 2005). The singing of Chocky, who wears the grey winter hat, is supported by Rogart Hegga aka Katapila (in blue shirt) and Jesca Charles (female singer).

The song is about the difficulties of having a relationship with someone. Other members onstage at this time include Khamis Amigolus (wearing the tracksuit), Abuu Semhando aka Baba Diana (drums), Victor Nkambi (keyboards), Said Mohamed aka MCD (ngoma), Ally Akidas (rhythm guitar and wearing black baseball hat), Joseph Watuguru (bass), and Miraji Shakashia (solo player).

Like other dansi and soukous-style songs, those by African Stars typically feature the verse portion of the song followed by the sebene or chemko. The chemko is the fast, more danceable section of the song. The chemko often features the tight layering of several guitars and a lead guitar playing over the supporting musicians. 

Since the mid-1980s, keyboards have become increasingly central to dansi music. In many groups, such as African Stars, the keyboards obviated the need for saxophone and trumpet players, who were central to early dansi music. Here Nkambi uses the bottom keyboard to play the typical horn section and the top keyboard to add supporting rhythm to the song.

Frequently guests come onstage to dance. In Tanzania, wide hips are considered a beautiful feature in women. This dancer celebrates this aesthetic by showing off her figure with dance that emphasizes hip movements. The crowd reinforces their appreciation of this aesthetic by applauding her performance.

Audience: Most of the audience consists of male youths. These youths loiter most of the day—hoping to find work, talking with friends, and exchanging ideas about how to make money. When there is a free concert, however, all of these male youth converge on the park hungry for entertainment. Even in the hot afternoon sun, the youth watch and enjoy the show. Given the number of youth in the audience—Perullo estimated that there were around 1,500 people at the event, most of them youths—the problem of youth unemployment is apparent. The targeting of these youths by Kibo Beer is disturbing given the low economic class to which these youth belong. This event, it should be noted, takes place on a Sunday afternoon—typically a day of rest, but this area of downtown (near Kariakoo) is still thriving with people

Concert: The band African Stars performs for an audience of several thousand in a downtown Dar es Salaam park called Mnzai Mmoja. This weekly event was sponsored by Kibo Beer. The performers for the day include: Ally Chocky (singer), Roggaty Hegga aka Katapila (singer), Jesca Charles (singer), Khamis Amigolus (percussion), Abuu Semhando aka Baba Diana (drummer), Victor Nkambi (keyboard), Said Mohamed aka MCD (conga drums), Ally Akidas and Yahaya Mkango (rhythm guitar), Joseph Watuguru and Jumanne Said aka Jojo Jumanne (bass), and Mitaji Shakashia (solo guitar). One the other lead singers, Lwiza Mbutu, did not perform at this concert. Also, since most of these artists are popular in Tanzania, their names are spelled in various ways: Luizer Mbutu's name also appears as Luiza Mbuttu. Ally Chocky's last name has numerous variants (Chokey, Choki, Chockey). He spells his name Chocky, which Perullo uses here.

African Stars perform dansi music but in a soukous or soukous ndombolo style popularized in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and France by artists such as Awilo Longomba, Aurlus Mabele, Koffi Olomide and the groups Extra Musica and Wenge Musica. African Stars was the preeminent group in Tanzania performing the mix of Tanzania and ndombolo styles of music.

Musicians: 

Ally Chocky was born 1 January 1970 in Kibaha, near Dar es Salaam. He arrived in Dar es Salaam in 1988 and joined Lola Afrika. In 1989, he moved to Bantu Group, Legho Stars in 1992, back to Bantu Group, and then to MK Beats. He went to Nairobi in 1993 to join Bagamoyo Sound. In 2000, he came back to Dar es Salaam to be in African Stars.

Robert Hegga (Katapila) was born 10 July 1973. In 1989, he started music in the City Sound Band in Dar es Salaam, then joined Bantu Group in 1992, Twiga Band in 1997, and Maasai Band in 1998. That same year, he went to Nairobi to join Benga International Band. In 1999, he joined African Stars, and returned to Nairobi the following year before heading back to African Stars in 2001.

Jesca Charles Mwanu was born 2 November 1970 in Moshi, Tanzania. In 1990, she joined Matero Band in Dodoma, Amkeni Band in 1992, and Super Melody in 1993. In 1996, she moved to Zanzibar to join Coconut Band of Zanzibar. Two years later, she went to Dar es Salaam to join African Stars.
Victor Elias Mkambi was born 15 April 1972 in Rukwa, Tanzania. He went to Chang'ombe Technical College in Dar es Salaam, and joined the group Makondeko Six in 1990. In 1993, he moved to MK Beats Band, Vijana Jazz in 1994, and African Stars in 1999.
For other videos from this event, see PURLs P.1, 3.1, and 3.2.