Archive for April, 2013

Bi Kidude; you inspired me

April 19, 2013

I would like people to understand how we do things in Africa. This is how we want to be seen where we are. Everywhere we travel, in Europe or anywhere, we must have good manners. Then people will grow to like us and come to Africa to discover more-Bi Kidude.

Everyone who knows me knows how my relationship with Swahili Culture is like. My auntie (my mother’s sister) was married to an Arab man. We were very close and she taught me a lot. So the passing of  Zanzibari singer Bi Kidude is something I cannot just allow to pass without sharing a few.

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I first began exploring Bi Kidude’s life and music when I started dancing Chakacha with some Swahili bands in Nairobi. Then, I was barely 20 years old and she inspired me in many ways. Her life, her music, unique voice, her life experiences and courage. Considering her time in the evolving African culture, her general life views were out of this world. Seeing an elderly African woman smoking in public was a shock to many! (I only heard never saw).

I was hoping I’d see her perform live in concert-especially at the 2012 Sauti ya Busara Festival in Stone Town, Zanzibar. I attended the festival for a couple of days but never got to see her perform owing to time constraints>Dammit!!

A major lesson I’ve learnt from her is the important of beloving and having your passion at your very core>it’s the only thing that keeps you going. No matter how old you are, keep going, you are never too old.

Perhaps fellow poet Shailja Patel tells it better in her TED performance of ‘If God was a 95-year old Swahili woman’ where she says something like;

I will never fear aging again because now I have heard Bi. Kidude (at her age) belt out without a mic (stronger than cables of steel). Her drumming more powerful that 20 Lady Gaga’s.

In the same piece, Shaija also adds that she was ‘A woman who walked more miles than most of us have driven’. Indeed, she is said to have done most of her tours either on dhows or on foot.

Regarding her role in Unyago, I salute her! God knows we need all African women to learn about all things sexual; not just for marriage but for themselves.


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