Wagogo music festival lives up to its top billing

Saturday August 4 2018

The Faru Muheme Group

The Faru Muheme Group from Songambele village, Kongwa District, Dodoma Region. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA | NMG 

More by this Author

Tanzania is the biggest country of the East African Community, with more than 120 tribes. The country actively supports preservation of the culture of each of the tribes.

Every year a traditional music festival is organised by almost each tribe or in each region of the country for passing on culture to the younger generation and cultural exchanges in general.

The last week of July 2018 was a time to shine for the “Gogo” tribe. The Gogo congregated in Ikulu village, Chamwino District in Dodoma.

Organised by the Chamwino Arts Centre, the 10th Wagogo Music Festival, locally known as the Wagogo Ngoma Festival, took place at the Village Hall.

The Wagogo are a Bantu ethnic and linguistic group based in the Dodoma region of central Tanzania. They have been predominantly pastoralist, but many contemporary Gogo now practises sedentary agriculture, and have migrated to urban areas, or work on plantations across Tanzania.

Dr Kedmon Mapana is a music professor at the University of Dar es Salaam and the brains behind this festival, being born and raised in Chamwino, led the proceedings.

“My vision for the future of this event is to introduce cultural teachings in all educational institutions. Once culture is taught in schools, it will be an opportunity to share this with the world,” Dr Kedmon wrote.

Having kicked of on July 26, the festival was unlike modern music festivals, as the performing groups were tireless throughout the event. The Ngoma (drums) could be heard from kilometres away and some performances lasted all day long.

Some 60 different groups gathered at the grounds and followed the exciting traditional performances.

Besides non-formal educational opportunities, the local community benefits through revenue generated by serving the attendees and performers at each festival. Everything needed for the festival is locally sourced.

Then there are exchange programmes such as the Brave Festival in Poland in 2009, 2012 and 2014 and another to the TFF Festival in Germany In 2014.