In Summary

At the same time it has always been seen as a means to escape poverty and to achieve a better life. The narrative of the meteoric rise is derived from American Hip hop imagination, as well as from local success stories.

Bongo Flava is a Tanzanian category of contemporary urban youth music related to four simultaneous developments; democratisation, privatisation, globalisation and media digitalisation.

Introduced in the late 90’s. Stylistically, it comprises of Hip-hop and R&B as well as other styles which have been appropriated by local artists who rap or sing mostly in Swahili.

Bongo flava is believed to have brought social upward mobility of musicians. From its very beginning, Bongo Flava has been regarded as a mouthpiece for the youth and the ordinary people.

At the same time it has always been seen as a means to escape poverty and to achieve a better life.

The narrative of the meteoric rise is derived from American Hip hop imagination, as well as from local success stories.

Watch the video to hear one of the most influential artist in Tanzania and Africa at large, who found a way out of poverty with Bongo Flava.

However, there are many players in the field of Bongo Flava with whom the aspiring artists had to cope and work with. These include producers, distributors, radio presenters, the press, the audience and many others. There are also fellow artists from other crews and formations.

The social side of Bongo Flava has built a successful defined bond between artists and managers, as well as defining the networks that exist between the artists and other players in the industry.

It has also created Independent artists that manage themselves and have their own record labels.

Bongo Flava saw the promotion of singles as opposed to albums, giving the artist more success than albums, that just brought pride and not financial growth.

Watch the video to hear what Vanessa Mdee who is an Independent artist with her own label had to say.

Bongo Flava today is mixed with Afro-pop helping Tanzanian artists cope with International music trends thus promoting Tanzanian music across international boundaries.

Bongo Flava artists have been nominated for prestigious awards like BET and MTV awards, with some ending as winners and finalists in their genre.

It is argued that the experience acquired in the field of Bongo Flava can be seen as a form of capital that can be employed for other purposes too. This includes experiences with studios, the media, as well as stage experience and self-promotion. 

However despite the success in the music industry there isn’t a lot of people investing in the music business, leave alone the small studios - we still need people investing in artists to ensure production of quality content to be consumed and shared with audience.

The career path for most independent and upcoming artists may be limited or suffer lack of financial resources.