Afro 70

Afro 70 was a Tanzanian band whose legacy is greater than the relatively few records they managed to release. Today they are mostly remembered for the songs that became hits in Tanzania and Kenya, such as the wedding evergreen “Harusi”, or the equally great “Dirishani”. From their inception in 1970, the band successfully managed to combine rumba, soul, funk and musical traditions from various parts of Tanzania and South Africa into a style they called Afrousa. Lead singer / guitarist and composer Patrick Balisidya had been a member of the Dar es Salaam Jazz Band (also known as Dar Jazz), a group that was founded before World War II. Dar Jazz, like other bands of the era, performed with a ‘reserve band’, which they called Dar Jazz B. Afro 70 had a similar setup with Afro B, which was composed of mostly teenage musicians who would play their own slots, before and after the main band. “Libondela” is a playful song about women boarding a train. Th e vocals were by Nina, a South African exile who sang in Sepedi, a South African language not spoken in Tanzania. Her brother Vuli, also a musician, was well known among Dar’s mabitozi (a slang word derived from ‘Beatles’, describing Tanzania’s 70s equivalent of mods). Afro 70 performed at the great music festival Festac ’77 in Nigeria with instruments supplied by the Tanzanian government, who promised they could keep them after the show, but later decided to give the equipment to another group. Since Afro 70 had lost their own instruments in a road accident, the group was unable to continue practicing and the band disbanded shortly after touring Mozambique that same year.