After-all, they kept the over two hundred-strong audience at the Goethe Institut, here in Dar es Salaam, on their toes throughout the performances. As is usual at such occasions there is always a buzz of expectation in the air, while those present pass away their time in idle chats, drinks and bites before the show starts.
Last Saturday night was no exception and relief came around eight thirty in the evening, when it was announced that the stage-show was about to begin, so the music coming from the sound-system should stop. Then five musicians: a drummer, bassist, guitarist, keyboardist and a percussionist broke the silence, which had caused a void, with a reggae moody drop-style rhythm.
This was the introduction Yvonne Mwale was waiting for, so after a few bars of instrumental music she came out dancing to the beat in an acceptable way, given the round of applause she got. For the good part of an hour these six musicians went through their repertoire with an ease and a level of professionalism that kept those present satisfied.
Their eight numbers presented varied in tempo to some extent and all added to building the audience up for something, which at the time was not known. This presented an opportunity for the ‘Star’ to move between those present just to check on the feeling amongst them.
Those who had seen Dobet Gnahoré perform had high expectations and those who had not just didn’t know what to expect. Yet they also were satisfied with what they had got up until that point in time. Now the former director of Goethe Institute here in the City, Ulrike Schwerdtfeger, was heard talking about she would not miss that show for anything.
Apparently, she had been at the same venue a couple weeks before for Yvonne Mwale’s debut album launch party and knew that the Zambian, Dares- Salaam-based up-coming artist had something worth seeing. Schwerdtfeger had also seen the Ivory Coast performing artist, Dobet Gnahoré, three years ago, when she had first performed here at the Russian Cultural Centre.
She also had listened to her first two albums and was expecting something big there on Saturday night. In fact, she described the Ivorian’s act as being “a bomb” that she couldn’t miss. “Dobet Gnahoré is a West African musician and I found her music, especially her live performance a bomb. She is very powerful, very acrobatic and a musician at heart,” the former Goethe Institut director said, just minutes before the second half of the show started.
Then a few minutes before ten, three men came on stage, one picked-up the guitar, another the bass and the third sat at the drums and just went into their funky-lively thing. That is after there was the sound of a human voice over the speakers reminding those present of the African village in an original style. It was only after a few bars of music from the trio that the “Ivorian Songstress” actually came on stage and got into the number.
By the end of the first number it was understood what Schwerdtfeger meant when she referred to this performer as being “a bomb that couldn’t be missed”. The fact that they were able to keep up the momentum until minutes to twelve, with everyone in the place on their toes, right through says it all. It is solely because where there is a beginning, there must be an end that this performance came to a close, when it did.
For it seemed the more the artists performed, is the more energy they got to continue. This brought about another piece of reality, concerning local, especially up-coming performing artists. The points raised to the ‘Star’ by the local contemporary
dancer, Aloyce Makonde, after the concert, seem to put it just right.
“It must be remembered that these artists from abroad, even within the continent, are given a lot of support by those around them, from the musicians who play with them to those who provide necessary financial assistance. This is rarely the case here. But even more important, the artists themselves work hard to achieve a high personal standard in their art,” he argued. Makonde went on to say that in most cases here, artists are only looking for fame and money and not to perfect their art.
Added to this, as was evident from the show put on last Saturday night, it is obvious that these foreign artists have had good training and have devoted a lot of their time to know the ethics, which govern their profession and are extremely serious with their work every time they are called to perform.