The political landscape of Tanzania has shifted in multiple ways since the quiet abandonment of socialism in the mid-1980s and subsequent acceptance of economic and political liberalization. How Tanzanian citizens have responded to these changes has received scant scholarly attention, the focus typically being on macro-level shifts in public policy. Yet popular music offers access to how ordinary Tanzanians articulate their understandings of and reactions to the changes in their country. This presentation will explore how citizens, in particular, sign and sing about their first president, Julius Nyerere, who committed his life to the establishment of the variety of socialism known as “Ujamaa.”
Kelly M. Askew is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Afroamerican/African Studies and Founding Director of the African Studies Center at the University of Michigan. At the moment she is a fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. She received her B.A. in Music and Anthropology from Yale University (1988) and her Ph.D. in Anthropology from Harvard University (1997). Her publications include two edited volumes, African Postsocialisms (co-edited with M. Anne Pitcher, 2006) and The Anthropology of Media: A Reader (co-edited with Richard R. Wilk, 2002), articles on topics ranging from nationalism to gender relations to Hollywood film production, and a book on music and politics in Tanzania titled Performing the Nation: Swahili Music and Cultural Production in Tanzania (2002), a finalist for the 2003 African Studies Association Herskovits Award for best scholarly work on Africa. In addition to her research in East Africa on performance, nationalism, media, postsocialism, and the privatization of property, Kelly Askew has pursued various film and video projects. Most recently, she has worked on a four-part video documentary series, Rhythms from Africa (2004), which explores music in South Africa and in Zanzibar, and a full-length feature documentary film Poetry in Motion: 100 Years of Zanzibar’s Nadi Ikhwan Safaa (2011) covering the history of Zanzibar’s oldest taarab orchestra.