Nyerere Khonde, the Mwanzele crooner

MwanzeleNyerere Khonde

Mwanzele iconic singer and composer Mohamed Ngana famously known in the Mwanzele dance circle as Nyerere wa Konde has alluded that there is a changed attitude towards traditional music in the coast region.

Nyerere said that traditional music now leads a way of life amongst the Mijikenda community.

He pointed out that traditional music has now turned to be a paying activity compared to the olden days when artistes used to compose and sing for fame and leisure.

“In the olden days, we used to sing as a way of gaining popularity in the eyes and ears of our fans but without a penny in our pockets. This is a completely new world to the Giriama artistes. Once you record and shoot a video for your work it pays,” said Nyerere wa Konde.

Nyerere wa Konde decided to call himself Nyerere in reference to the late President of Tanzania Mwalimu Julius Kambarage. His fame in Mwanzele dance can be traced back to the late 70s when he used to accompany his late friend and mentor Ngumbao Hare who was famously known as Bin Hare, who taught him the art of composing and singing.

Bin Hare was everything to me. He wanted to see us grow in this dance and so the old man taught us this art whole heartedly. Though he is gone now, but he remains a pillar in this industry for many generations to come,” said Nyerere.

Through singing, he launched a major campaign among the Giriama community about the danger of HIV/AIDS. He mobilized and sensitized the Mijikenda Community against the killer disease.

“As a singer, it meant more than singing. We had the opportunity of composing songs to educate our people against the dreaded disease and other cultural practices that were undermining development in this region,” he said.

 He started as a group member in the then Mwanzele group led by Bin Hare, and although he sometimes composed songs, he never gained any recognition. It is because they were recorded under Bin Hare’s name.

“I was never demoralized in whatever way. Every time I composed a song and it is used in Bin Hare’s album I was proud because my passion was to get experience before going solo,” Nyerere wa Konde explained.

In 1980, he broke ranks with Bin Hare’s Mwanzele group and went for a solo singing career. In no moment, he formed the Nyerere Khonde music club based at Sita village in Dabaso.

It was during this time that Nyerere wa Konde and his group started gaining fame all over the coastal region.

Among the members in his group was his son Nyerere junior who despite his young age would accompany his father in different performances like wedding and funerals where their pay would be a goat and the Mnazi local wine.

Mwanzele album

He recorded his first album containing twelve songs known as ‘Kavure tsawe ni kako’. The album was recorded in 1982 at Mbwana Radio Services based at Kibokoni-Mombasa.

Since his first album release, Nyerere wa Konde has become very famous and he has been composing more songs and releasing them in albums despite many challenges.

Also Read: Namba: The Giriama dance on its death bed

The recording was not easy that time as it was done at a higher rate and the economic crisis took its position in the industry making him to struggle hooks and crooks to nurture his talent.

“It was difficult to record that time. I faced a lot of financial hurdles and this made me to work extremely hard to promote myself as no leader showed up to support the local traditional musicians saying it was a waste of time,” says Nyerere wa Konde.

At some point he took a break from music and ventured into other endevours but for the love of music he found himself in the studios again.

This time he released an album at the then Bado records (now Big Fist records) owned by his son Mr. Bado.

The album was known as ‘Nyoha Ianza Muswa’

He further notes that this album paid quite well in the market and made him extra famous amongst the elderly traditional musicians in the whole of coast region.

So far Nyerere wa Konde has recorded and released twenty seven albums with more than three hundred exclusive songs and many other collaboration songs.

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