WE know that, if given opportunities, sports and cultural representatives are the best ambassadors to hold our Tanzanian flag abroad.
Justifica - tions could be noted through some recent achievements by the sorts of Mbwana Ali Samatta, Hassan Mwakinyo (sports), Nasibu Abdul ‘Diamond’, Vanessa Mdee, Ali Kiba (performing artists) and others.
However, I still remember the impact made by ‘Tatu Nane band’ with their traditional touches in promoting Tanzania across Europe back in the 80s until the early 90s!
Later in the 90s, Mlimani Park Orchestra (with Bitchuka & Co.) did the same with their promotional tours across Germany, whereas the late Remmy Ongala (with his Super Matimila band) overwhelmingly captured the European audiences with his mixedTanzanian traditionally artistic expression.
Still, the emerging and long existence (over two decades) of the ‘NGOMA-AFRICA BAND’ in Germany, has surprised the world of performing music. They say; “Die Band ist in ganz Europa bekannt und verzaubern auf Swahili mit ihren ‘Bongo Dansi!” meaning; ‘the Band is known all over Europe and impresses in Swahili with their Bongo dance.’
While the French Europeans say; “Les voix d’or d’Afrique de L’Est” meaning ‘the golden voices of East Africa,’ one Ghanaian newspaper straighten the issue with a clear headline: “Musician recaptures Tanzanians lost glory!” It’s all about this unique Tanzanian band.
Led and founded in the northern Germany town of Oldenburg by ‘EBRAHIM JUMANNE SALEHE MAKUNJA’ (a.k.a KAMANDA RAS MAKUNJA), this band (also nicknamed the FFU = Anti-Riot Squad) has survived since 1993.
“I did create this Band to promote our Tanzanian music internationally. My music is a sort of fusion between Tanzanian traditional music, African and the world music in general” Kamanda Ras Makunja, with many a.k.a’s; FieldMashall of FFU, King of Anunaki Empire, is also a songwriter, percussionist, superb entertainer and vocalist, to name just a few of his abilities.
The Band, which is famous for staging thrilling shows in festivals, has also created a style of appearing in a form of ‘military garments.’ “Well, it just symbolizes our Solidarity with sufferers” However, as an old friend, Michuzi recently whispered to Ras Makunja; “Mmmh, hayo yavalieni Ughaibuni huko huko, msije kuibuka nayo hapa mkajikuta mna-cross red-line ya vijana wa General Mabeyo!”
Ngoma Africa Band is ‘a mix Massala’ of talented musicians connected to Tanzania and East Africa in general. Their music style is known as ‘Bongo Dansi!’
Together with ‘Kamanda Ras Makunja,’ among rotating band members (the ‘Anunnaki Aliens’) are Madam Seven Onkomo, Maxime Buanda, Said Vuai a.k.a Prince Jazbo; Christian Bakotessa a.k.a Chris-B, Richard Makutima, Jessy Ouyah, Aj Nbongo, Maria Pedro, Jonathan Sousa aka JoJo and Matondo Benda, Ebrahim was born in Dares-Salaam as a first child to Mzee Jumanne Salehe Makunja and Bi. Mozah Hassan Mpili.
His education journey began at Kinondoni Primary School before moving further to Kibasila School for his higher education. Ebrahim’s music talent was identified quite early, “during my activities as a singer in a TANU Youth League choir group in the 70s.”
By 1978 the young Ebrahim joined Butiama Jazz under the late Mustafa Mkwega. “I later joined Roots and Culture band, led by the late Jah Kimbute, we used to perform across southern African countries (the Frontline States).”
By the time Ebrahim moved to Europe for further education in the early 90s, Music was already part of attitude. “Through my educational and cultural and activities at the ‘Jugend-kultur Zentrum’ in Oldenburg, I automatically ended-up creating my second home in Germany. There comes the birth of ‘Ngoma Africa Band’ back in 1993!”
Under the supportive project of “We Are One,” things started to gain some momentum. ‘Ras Makunja & Ngoma Africa Band’ raised our Tanzanian flag and became the ‘Best World Music Band of Expo 2000 Hannover.’ More invitations started to pour towards ‘Ngoma Africa Band.’ 2001 the Band performed at the “Pacific World Music Festival “in Honolulu, Hawai.
This was followed by many other invitations like the travelled all the Among events Ras Makunja & his Band has participated includes; the 2007 ‘Fiesta Latina,’ in Caracas, Venezuela, 2010 in Finland, 2011 the band performed in Serbia and Bosnia & Herzegovina.
In 2014 the band performed at the ‘Isaack Rabin Square in Tel-Aviv,’ commemorating the 60th anniversary of Israel. Already Ras Makunja & Ngoma Africa Band are proud and do enjoy to see and hear their songs through many Radio and TV Stations across the globe.
Among their productions is the newly Album “Mama Kimwaga” (Sugar Mum), “Apache Wacha Pombe” and “Anti-corruption squad.” Other Albums are “Mapenzi ya Pesa”, “Miaka 50 ya Uhuru” as hit songs, so as the CD “Awamu ya Tano Uwanjani.”
“The climax of my achievements so far is that of having fans almost everywhere across the globe and owning one of the oldest and most successful Africans bands in Germany.” By acquiring the ‘Best Diaspora Band Award,’ Ras Makunja & Co. felt obliged to perform even better.
Among Makunja & Family’s contribution to the society is the newly created modern ‘Kitbiti Entertainment Studio’ in Kibiti, to promote and support other upcoming musicians in Tanzania.
“Music has the power to break down barriers and bring people together! I’m proud to be among those few ones capable of doing that through my music while holding the flag of my beloved country.” Yes, KAMANDA RAS MAKUNJA is worthy to be illustrated!
David Kyungu is a veteran cartoonist, actor, illustrator, journalist, film, radio & TV director/producer based in Dar-es-Salaam. email@example.com