Bi Kidude Biography: Early Life, Music Career, Discography and More
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Bi Kidude used to be a Zanzibar tradition and East Africa’s most famous musical legend. She was the famous singer of the taarab of Zanzibar, but she also sang other musical forms like msondo and unyago, which are quite ngoma-based.
Early Life of Bi Kidude
Baraka Khamis Fatma or Binti Bi Fatuma Baraka has been suggested as her true name. In Mfagimarigo, a village in Zanzibari, she was raised in a family of 7. Her father sold coconuts.
Bi Kidude’s precise birth date was uncertain, and most of her biography was unsubstantiated, giving her a mythological aura. Kidude began her singing journey in the 1920s, and learned most of her music with Siti Saad. She toured Europe, Japan, and the Middle East before recording Zanzibar, Retroafric Recordings (her debut solo album) in 1994, when she was in her eighties. Her traditional drums influenced the
budding Zenji Flava native hip-hop scene in the most spectacular compositions of the musical genre in modern World Music. Also, she launched the second locally made music collection (Machozi ya Huba produced by Heartbeat Records), with local drums influencing the growing Zenji Flava traditional hip-hop stage in the most impressive mixing of musical forms in recent World Music.
Bi Kidude Music Career
Bi Kidude has had an unusual and diversified career as a singer, drummer, natural healer, and henna artist singer after leaving a forced marital union when she was 13 and fleeing her country of Zanzibar. Her first excursion was to Tanzania’s mainland, where she trekked barefoot the whole length and width of the nation.
Bi Kidude returned to Zanzibar, with a new attitude and increased confidence toward tradition (by this time, she had flung away her veil and cut her hair!) She bought a tiny clay home in the 1940s and settled into a life rooted in society’s traditional roots.
Legacy, Awards and Taarab Evangelization
Bi Kidude had been a member of the movement of Unyago, which helps young Swahili ladies prepare for adolescence. She also excelled in henna design for newlyweds, creating her unique wanja preparation from traditional recipes appropriate “to cause a rainbow to sparkle.” Bi Kidude was the island’s primary exponent of traditional unyago music, the historic dance practice, which employs local rhythms to educate women on how to please their men while teaching against the perils of sexual assault and oppression.
ZIFF honored Bi Kidude’s various abilities in 1999 during the 2nd Fest of Dhow Nations when she received an award for her Service to Arts.
Bi Kidude’s tale is amazing, and it questions our ideas about age and the position of ladies in the Islamic religion. Since she discarded her veil, she has never fit the media’s caricature of an Islamic lady. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to observe a ninety-year-old Female Muslim smoke, drink, flirt, drum, and dance. It was nothing short of amazing to watch her reverse the process of aging and turn from a wrinkly grandmother to a vibrant, dazzling star.
Bi Kidude traveled Europe with the taarab orchestra (Zanzibar’s famed Culture Musical Union) in 2004 summer. Halfway through the trip, the entire Zanzibar was shocked and in chaos when word traveled quickly that Bi Kidude was dead:
“I’m not dead yet.” Maybe they’re saying that since I haven’t been seen in over a month. However, we will go on with our trip, which will run for another two months. I, on the other hand, am well. “I keep making people happy by singing with every of my might.”
‘As Old As My Tongue,’ a movie on Bi Kidude’s Legend and Life, was a sixty-six-minute film documentary produced by ScreenStation Productions and Busara Promotions in 2006.
“We’ve been filming with Bi Kidude coupled with her big entourage for the past three years,” Andy Jones (the movie director) stated. “We have documented moments of jealousy, love, exploitation, and protection, of a funny and humble woman from her modest abode in a village on the outskirts of old Stone Town to Theatre de la Ville’s splendor of Paris. The core of our tale is made up of musical moments interspersed with deeply intimate observations. The song is fantastic. The video is interrupted by astonishing live video, from the vast Taarab orchestras’ ostensibly beautiful but truly stinging humor to the revealing rhythms of primitive sensuality revealed in her adult video Unyago.”
The WOMEX 2005 Prize was given to Bi Kidude in 2005 for her incredible lifetime performance and contribution towards global music.
This fascinating and remarkable woman used to be a keeper of Swahili tradition and a great exponent. “Can I quit singing?” (Bi Kidude) asked. When singing takes me back to being a fourteen-year-old girl.”
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