Music of Tanzania

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Music listened by Tanzanians stretches from (Bolingo) traditional African music to the string-based taarab to a distinctive hip hop known as bongo flava.

Taarab is a music genre popular in Tanzania and Kenya. It is influenced by the musical traditions of the African Great Lakes, North Africa, the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent. Taarab rose to prominence in 1928 with the advent of the genre's first star, Siti binti Saad.

Hip hop subculture including music, dance and graffiti

Hip hop or hip-hop, is a culture and art movement that was created by African Americans, Latino Americans and Caribbean Americans in the Bronx, New York City. The origin of the name is often disputed. It is also argued as to whether hip hop started in the South or West Bronx. While the term hip hop is often used to refer exclusively to hip hop music, hip hop is characterized by nine elements, of which only four elements are considered essential to understand hip hop musically. The main elements of hip hop consist of four main pillars. Afrika Bambaataa of the hip hop collective Zulu Nation outlined the pillars of hip hop culture, coining the terms: "rapping", a rhythmic vocal rhyming style (orality); DJing, which is making music with record players and DJ mixers ; b-boying/b-girling/breakdancing (movement/dance); and graffiti. Other elements of hip hop subculture and arts movements beyond the main four are: hip hop culture and historical knowledge of the movement (intellectual/philosophical); beatboxing, a percussive vocal style; street entrepreneurship; hip hop language; and hip hop fashion and style, among others. The fifth element, although debated, is commonly considered either street knowledge, hip hop fashion, or beatboxing.

Contents

National anthem

The Tanzanian national anthem is Mungu Ibariki Africa (God Bless Africa), composed by South African composer Enoch Sontonga in 1897. The tune is ANC's official song and later became the National Anthem of South Africa. The song is also the national anthem Zambia. Swahili lyrics were set to this tune.

Enoch Sontonga South African composer

Enoch Mankayi Sontonga was a South African composer, who is best known for writing the song "Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika", which has been the national anthem of South Africa since 1994. Previously, it had been the official anthem of the African National Congress since 1925.

South Africa Republic in the southernmost part of Africa

South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by 2,798 kilometres (1,739 mi) of coastline of Southern Africa stretching along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans; to the north by the neighbouring countries of Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe; and to the east and northeast by Mozambique and Eswatini (Swaziland); and it surrounds the enclaved country of Lesotho. South Africa is the largest country in Southern Africa and the 25th-largest country in the world by land area and, with over 57 million people, is the world's 24th-most populous nation. It is the southernmost country on the mainland of the Old World or the Eastern Hemisphere. About 80 percent of South Africans are of Bantu ancestry, divided among a variety of ethnic groups speaking different African languages, nine of which have official status. The remaining population consists of Africa's largest communities of European, Asian (Indian), and multiracial (Coloured) ancestry.

Zambia Republic in southern Africa

Zambia, officially the Republic of Zambia, is a landlocked country in south-central Africa. Its neighbors are the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Tanzania to the north-east, Malawi to the east, Mozambique to the southeast, Zimbabwe and Botswana to the south, Namibia to the southwest, and Angola to the west. The capital city is Lusaka, located in the south-central part of Zambia. The population is concentrated mainly around Lusaka in the south and the Copperbelt Province to the northwest, the core economic hubs of the country.

Art music

The music industry in Tanzania has seen many changes in the past ten years. With a mix of influences from other countries along with the original feel of local musical traditions, Tanzanian musicians have become some of the best artists in East Africa.[ according to whom? ] From artists such as Dionys Mbilinyi, Sabinus Komba and many others, to new artists in R&B, pop, Zouk, Taarab and dance music.

Art musicians include:

Imani Sanga is Professor of Music in the Department of Creative Arts, formerly called Department of Fine and Performing Arts, in the College of Humanities at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He teaches courses in Ethnomusicology, Philosophy of Music, Composition and Choral Music. He also conducts the university choir.

Bongo Flava

Tanzanian artistes have devised a new style going by the name of "Bongo Flava", which is a blend of all sorts of melodies, beats, rhythms and sounds. The trend among the Tanzanian music consumers has started changing towards favouring products from their local artists who sing in Swahili, the national language.

Bongo flava is the nickname for Tanzanian hip hop music. The genre developed in the 1990s, mainly as a derivative of American hip hop, with additional influences from reggae, R&B, afrobeat, dancehall, and traditional Tanzanian styles such as taarab and dansi, a combination that forms a unique style of music. Lyrics are usually in Swahili or English.

Swahili language Bantu language, mostly spoken mainly within East Africa, national language in Tanzania and one of the official languages of Kenya

Swahili, also known as Kiswahili, is a Bantu language and the first language of the Swahili people. It is a lingua franca of the African Great Lakes region and other parts of eastern and south-eastern Africa, including Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, some parts of Malawi and Zambia, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Comorian, spoken in the Comoros Islands, is sometimes considered to be a dialect of Swahili, though other authorities consider it a distinct language.

Among prominent Bongo Flava music producers include Joachim Kimario aka Master J and Northern Tanzania-based John Blass aka John B. Others include Marco Chali, David Masuda Daniel aka Devzboi1, Dully Sykes, Tid, Diamond Platnumz, Rayvanny, Harmonize, Vanessa Mdee, P-Funk Majani, Marlon Linje, Baucha, S2Kizzy, Abbah and Lizer classic. The recent years have seen a good number of Tanzanian Musicians growing to capture international arena. One of the prominent musician is Diamond Platnumz as well Elisha Hisia Simon who have made it to establish a quarterly Hisia Music Festival, being held in different venues between Arusha and Dar es salaam. There is still a struggle between the government and the artists concerning a variety of issues mainly censorship and lack of structured copyrights law that can protect artists and their music.Recently the ministry of arts has tried and successful censored prominent musician Diamond Platnumz. Most of these artists have decided to keep publishing their music out for free download on websites like TINA Magazine for faster distribution and promotion.

Dully Sykes Bongo Flava musician from Tanzania

Dully Sykes is a Tanzanian musician who sings majorly in the bongo flava genre.

Diamond Platnumz Musician,Dancer,Businessman and Social media personality

Nasibu Abdul Juma, popularly known by his stage name Diamond Platnumz, is a bongo flava recording artist and dancer from Tanzania. He has had several hit songs including "Number One" which he featured Nigerian artist Davido. Diamond won numerous awards at Channel O and the HiPipo Music Awards. He performed at the Big Brother Africa 7 eviction show in May 2012. Diamond is considered influential among his fans, and is said to be the most loved and decorated East and Central African artist at the moment. He is believed to be the highest selling Tanzanian artist of ringtones by mobile phone companies in 2013, as well as being among the artists earning the highest income in the African Great Lakes region's music industry. Diamond also became the first African artist to accumulate as many as 2,190,778 subscribers on his YouTube channel.

Raymond Shaban Mwakyusa, better known by his stage name Rayvanny, is a Tanzanian musician, songwriter and dancer from the WCB Wasafi Records label under Diamond Platnumz leadership. Rayvanny is best known by his song "Kwetu", which introduced him to the world. Rayvanny was mentioned by MTV Base among "Acts To Look Out For" in 2017.

Traditional music

Tanzania has a large number of traditional instruments, many of which are specific to particular ethnic groups. The Zaramo people, for instance, perform traditional dance melodies such as "Mitamba Yalagala Kumchuzi" on tuned goblet drums, tuned cylindrical drums, and tin rattles.

The multi-instrumentalist Hukwe Zawose, a member of the Gogo ethnic group, is the 20th century's most prominent exponent of Tanzanian traditional music. He specialized in the ilimba , a large lamellophone similar to the mbira .

A famous song of Tanzania is "Tanzania Tanzania."

Saida Karoli is a famous traditionalist Tanzanian female singer and performer, who sings in Haya. Karoli's music is described as natural with mellow vocals and hypnotically rhythmicism. Songs like Ndombolo Ya Solo or Maria Salome were huge hits in Tanzania and the countries around; she was nominated at the 2005 and 2006 Tanzania Music Awards in the Best Folk Album category [1] and for the Best Female Vocalist category. [2]

Mtindo

A mtindo (pl. mitindo) is simply a rhythm, dance or style identified with a particular band. Sikinde, for example, is associated with Mlimani Park, and is derived from the ngoma (musical events held by the Zaramo). Some bands maintain the same mtindo throughout their career, while others change along with personnel or popular preference.

Taarab

Taarab is a popular genre descended from Islamic roots, using instruments from Africa (percussion), Europe (guitar), Arab Middle East (oud and qanun) and East Asia (taishokoto). It is sung poetry and are a constant part of wedding music, and is associated with coastal areas like Lamu and Zanzibar, as well as with neighboring Kenya.

Taarab is often said to have an Egyptian origin, due to the long-term popular of the Ikhwani Safaa Musical Club. While the Egyptian influence is undeniable, coastal East Africa is a cultural melting pot and has absorbed influences from across the Indian Ocean and even further abroad. The first taarab superstar, the first Swahili superstar, is Siti bint Saad. Beginning in 1928, she and her band were the first from the region to make commercial recordings.

Over the next several decades, bands and musicians like Bi Kidude, Mzee Yusuph, Culture Musical Club and Al-Watan Musical Club kept taarab at the forefront of the Tanzanian scene, and made inroads across the world. Kidumbak ensembles grew popular, at least among the poor of Zanzibar, featuring two small drums, bass, violins and dancers using claves and maracas. More recently, modern taarab bands like East African Melody have emerged, as has related backbiting songs for women called mipasho.

The 1960s saw a group called the Black Star Musical Club, from Tanga, modernize the genre and brought it to audiences far afield, especially Burundi and Kenya.

Taarab music [3] is a fusion of pre-Islamic Swahili tunes sung in rhythmic poetic style spiced with general Islamic melodies. It is an extremely lively art form springing from a classical culture, still immensely popular with women, drawing all the time from old and new sources. Taarab forms a major part of the social life of the Swahili people along the coastal areas; especially Zanzibar, Tanga and even further in Mombasa and Malindi along the Kenya coast. Wherever the Swahili speaking people travelled, Tarabu culture moved with them. It has penetrated to as far as Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi in the interior of East Africa where taarab groups compete in popularity with other western-music inspired groups.

Tanzania was influenced heavily after the 1960s with the influence of African and Latin music. Tanzanian soldiers brought back with them the music of these cultures, as well as Cuban and European music, when returning from World War II. These musical influences fused and brought together the Tanzanian people. Eventually the country and its people created its own style of music. This style, called "Swahili Jazz" is a mix of beats and styles of Cuban, European, Latin and African music. Swahili jazz gave Tanzania a sense of independence and togetherness as a country.

These days a taarab revolution [4] is taking place and much heated debate continues about the music which has been changed drastically by the East African Melody phenomenon. Melody, as they are affectionately known by their mostly female fans, play modern taarab, which, for the first time, is 'taarab to dance to' and features direct lyrics, bypassing the unwritten laws of lyrical subtlety of the older groups such as Egyptian Musical Club and Al-Wattan Musical Club where meaning to their songs is only alluded to, and never directly inferred. Today, taarab songs are explicit - sometimes even graphic - in sexual connotation, and much of the music of groups like Melody and Muungano is composed and played on keyboards, increasing portability, hence the group is much smaller in number than 'real taarab' orchestras and therefore more readily available to tour and play shows throughout the region and beyond.

The first popular music craze in Tanzania was in the early 1930s, when Cuban Rumba was widespread. Young Tanzanians organized themselves into dance clubs like the Dar es Salaam Jazz Band, which was founded in 1932. Local bands at the time used brass and percussion instruments, later adding strings. Bands like Morogoro Jazz and Tabora Jazz were formed (despite the name, these bands did not play jazz). Competitions were commonplace, a legacy of native ngoma societies and colonial beni brass bands.

Independence came in 1961, however, and three years later the state patronage system was set up, and most of the previous bands fell apart. Musicians were paid regular fees, plus a percentage of the gate income, and worked for some department of the government. The first such band is the Nuta Jazz Band, which worked for the National Union of Tanzania.

The 1970s saw the popularization a laid-back sound popularized by Orchestre Safari Sound and Orchestre Maquis Original. These groups adopted the motto "Kamanyola bila jasho" (dance Kamanyola without sweating). Maquis hailed from Lubumbashi in southeastern Zaire, moving to Dar es Salaam in the early 70s. This was a common move at the time, bringing elements of soukous from the Congo basin. Maquis introduced many new dances over the years, including one, zembwela, (from their 1985 hit "Karubandika" [5] , which was so popular that the term has become synonymous with dancing.

Popular bands in the 60s, 70s and 80s included Vijana Jazz, who were the first to add electronic instruments to dansi (in 1987) and DDC Mlimani Park Orchestra, led by Michael Enoch. Rivalries between the bands sometimes led to chaos in the scene, as when Hugo Kisima lured musicians from Mlimani Park and disbanded the wildly popular Orchestra Safari Sound in 1985, forming the International Orchestra Safari Sound. International Orchestra Safari Sound was briefly popular, but the Orchestra Safari Sound was revitalized by Nguza Viking (formerly of maquis), who became bandleader in 1991; this new group lasted only a year.

The most recent permutation of Tanzanian dance music is mchiriku. Bands like Gari Kubwa, Tokyo Ngma and Atomic Advantage are among the pioneers of this style, which uses four drums and a keyboard for a sparse sound. Loudness is very important to the style, which is usually blared from out-dated speakers; the resulting feedback is part of the music. The origin of the style is Zaramo wedding music.

Reggae and hip hop

After Tanzania gained its independence, the leaders of the country failed in their mission to produce a successful economy. Structural Adjustment Programs were put into place, which mimicked the same colonial practices that the country attempted to free itself from. Tanzanian youths turned to crime in order to survive. “It is not surprising that most Tanzanians viewed these conditions, especially the rise in crime, and the almost simultaneous rise or rap music, as a single phenomenon. The political establishment and older generation did not accept rap music or uhuni music- since it became synonymous with disruption and anti-social behavior. Yet for the younger generation, traditional Swahili music did not address contradictions of the ‘liberalized’ Tanzanian economy.” [6]

In 1991, Tanzania hosted a hip hop competition called "Yo Rap Bonanza.” While most rappers were performing American songs word for word; Saleh Ajabry, a Tanzanian, wrote his own Swahili lyrics to a song based on Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby,” and won the competition. [7]

Dar es Salaam's Kwanza Unit is the first Tanzanian hip hop crew, but technical limitations hindered commercial success. Mr. II and Juma Nature are the most famous Tanzanian rappers; Mr II's (then known as 2-Proud) "Ni Mimi" (1995) is the first major hit for the field. Groups like X Plastaz have moved away from American-style hip hop and incorporated Maasai vocal styles and other Tanzanian musics. Tanzanian hip hop is often called as Bongo Flava.

Global popular culture, particularly U.S. hip hop, has played a major role in influencing Tanzanian culture since its independence. This is most evident among Tanzanian urban youth, who have absorbed global hip hop music and produced their own varieties. With the increased mediatization of Tanzania in the 1990s, Tanzanian urban youth have had more access to hip hop music, and the incorporation of global culture has become more prevalent and visible in urban Tanzania, not only in the music, but also in fashion, food, dance, and sports. [8] Hip hop has essentially provided Tanzanian urban youth and young adults with a means of expressing themselves and forming an identity, such as the conceptual identity of msafiri (the traveler), a classic subject borrowed from Swahili lore, and a recurrent theme in Dar hip hop. [9] While Tanzania hip hop is influenced by American hip hop it is also distinctly localized. Whereas American Hip Hop is the product of black urban youth and heavily influenced by race, Tanzania bongo flava took root in the slightly better off part of the city with those that more access to the Western world. Furthermore, Tanzania hip hop artist saw themselves as distinct from American artists in that they focus more on economic issues and less on violence" [9] " Rapper Sam Stigilydaa put it poignantly when he said, "American rappers talk about crazy things-drinking, drugs, violence against women, American blacks killing blacks. I hope African doesn't turn crazy" [10] Because of the massive hip hop artist and fan base in Northern Tanzania's Arusha city, today this is termed as East Africa's Hip hop capital. Artists such as spark Dog Malik, JCB, Watengwa, Chindo aka Umbwax, Donii, Wadudu wa dampo, Jambo Squad, Nako-to-nako, Weusi and many others who are heading Tanzania's hip-hop music are from this City.

Other modern styles

Mbaraka Mwinshehe is the most popular and original musician of Tanzania, also there is a greater influx of musicians from the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire), who were entering the country as refugees and made residence in the country. But in recent years, mainly from the mid-nineties, new generation of musicians has emerged and are coming up with popular tunes which are Tanzanian in composition. Bands like Twanga Pepeta have managed to carve a new tune distinct from imported Zairean tunes, and are competing with Zairean bands in popularity and audience acceptance.

Jah Kimbuteh is the first major reggae star in Tanzania, beginning his career with Roots and Kulture in 1985. Newer artists in the field include the Jam Brothers and Ras Innocent Nyanyagwa, who includes songs in Hehe and Swahili and uses indigenous rhythms.

At present, Ras Nas is considered as one of the most known reggae musician from Tanzania. Ras Nas combines reggae, afro and dub poetry. His latest release "Dar-es-Salaam" contains eight tracks.

Many musicians work in bands that play at a hotel, usually led by a keyboard and including a rock-based sound. The Kilimanjaro Connection is perhaps the most respected of these hotel bands, along with Bantu Group and Tanzanites.

Freddie Mercury

Freddie Mercury, singer born in Tanzania Freddie Mercury performing in New Haven, CT, November 1977.jpg
Freddie Mercury, singer born in Tanzania

Freddie Mercury, born Farouk Bulsara into the Indian Parsi community of Stone Town, Zanzibar, later moved to England and rose to worldwide fame as the lead singer, and a songwriter and instrumentalist, of the rock music group Queen. He died on 24 November 1991. Efforts to honour his life and work on the 60th anniversary of his birth were abandoned in September 2006 following the protests of a radical Islamic group on the archipelago, Uamsho, who said he had violated Islam with his openly gay lifestyle. [lower-alpha 1]

Distribution and access to music

The mushrooming of FM music stations and reasonable production studios has been a major boost to the music industry in the country. Contemporary artists like Diamond Platnumz, Juma Nature, Lady Jaydee, Mr. Nice, Mr. II, Cool James, Dully Sykes, Professor Jay and many others command a huge audience of followers in the country and neighbouring countries.

More information about Tanzanian music and events can be found on the various web portals that have sprung up recently. Tanzania has an enormously high growth rate for internet technologies, estimated at up to 500% per year. Because costs for computers are still quite high, many users share connections at internet cafes or at work.naomba.com business directory, tanzaniadirectory.info Movie and Sports information, and Arusha locality information all are part of an increasing number of websites dedicated to the region. Digital Tanzania music downloads are mostly done by free download websites and music [13] platforms like iTunes, Google Music etc.

Notes

  1. Zanzibar criminalised gay and lesbian sex in 2004; [11] [12] see also Islam and homosexuality.

Related Research Articles

Soukous is a popular genre of dance music from the Congo Basin. It derived from Congolese rumba in the 1960s and gained popularity in the 1980s in France. Although often used by journalists as a synonym for Congolese rumba, both the music and dance currently associated with soukous differ from more traditional rumba, especially in its higher tempo, longer dance sequences. Notable performers of the genre include African Fiesta, Papa Wemba and Pépé Kallé.

Joseph Mbilinyi, known for his stage names Mr. II, Sugu and 2-proud, is a Tanzanian politician, activist and rapper. He was also elected to the Tanzanian Parliament in 2010 and then 2015 to 2020.

Tanganyika African National Union Tanzanian political party

The Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) was the principal political party in the struggle for sovereignty in the East African state of Tanganyika. The party was formed from the Tanganyika African Association by Julius Nyerere in July 1954 when he was teaching at St. Francis' College. From 1964 the party was called Tanzania African National Union. In January 1977 the TANU merged with the ruling party in Zanzibar, the Afro-Shirazi Party (ASP) to form the current Revolutionary State Party or Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM). The policy of TANU was to build and maintain a socialist state aiming towards economic self-sufficiency and to eradicate corruption and exploitation, with the major means of production and exchange under the control of the peasants and workers.

Tanzanian Hip-hop, also known as Bongo Flava, encompasses a large variety of different sounds, but it is particularly known for heavy synth riffs and an incorporation of Tanzanian pop. There is some debate over whether Bongo Flava, which has emerged as a defined pop movement, can really still be qualified under the overarching term "hip hop" and not a movement unto itself, when it is beginning to develop a distinctive sound that differs from hardcore rap or, for example, the Maasai Hip-hop of X Plastaz, who use the tradition of the Maasai tribe as the focal point for their sound and style. A form of Tanzanian hip hop is Bongo Flava. Bongo flava, derived from the Swahili word "ubongo", incorporates hip hop, Indian filmi, taraab, muzik wa dansi, and dancehall beats. It all began in the 1980s when Tanzanian teenagers were really interested in the American hip hop scene. At first, they took American beats and rapped to them. As the youth rapped, the hip hop in Tanzania began to develop into a mix of traditional and localized hip hop scene. As a result, it began a wave of interest from other people in Eastern Africa.

X Plastaz is a Tanzanian hip hop musical group based in Arusha and founded in 1996. They are one of the most popular acts in the Tanzanian hip hop scene. Their style mixes elements from international hip hop and traditional Maasai music, represented by Maasai singer Merege. While Merege sings in maa, the other members of the group rap in swahili and haya. Merege is also well known to perform in traditional Maasai clothings.

Kwanza Unit (KU) was an early Tanzanian hip hop group. Its name means "First Unit" and it was formed in 1993 by a merger of several groups and solo artists. They started rapping in English, but later used Swahili as well.

Baraza la Muziki la Taifa was a national council created in 1974 by the government of the newly independent Tanzania. Its purpose was to regulate the music business in the country, in the context of a wider programme intended to create a solidified national identity. This, in turn, was a crucial element in Ujamaa, President Julius Nyerere's version of african socialism. Similar institutions were founded to rule over other aspects of the nation's culture, including the nationwide adoption of Swahili language and the development of Tanzanian art (BASATA). The overall idea was to build a new popular culture for the workers and peasants of the country, free from the heritage of colonialism and bourgeoisie culture.

Zavara Mponjika or simply MC Rhymson is a rapper from Tanzania who was the founder of the Villain Gangsters and a founding member of Kwanza Unit.

Dataz is a Tanzanian rapper. She was born in 1984 on the shores of Lake Nyasa in Mbamba Bay. Later she moved with her parents to Morogoro where she began her primary education. When Dataz was attending her secondary school, Ifunda, her talent for music became apparent.

Radio Tanzania Dar es Salaam is a radio service in Tanzania.

Balozi Dola,a.k.a.Balozi or Dolasoul, is a self-proclaimed “socially conscious” hip hop artist from Tanzania.

Saleh J, prominent Tanzanian hip hop pioneer, was born in Dar es Salaam as Saleh Jaber.

The annual Yo Rap Bonanza, created in the early 1990s in Tanzania, was a rap talent show organized by Kim and the Boys with Ibony Moalim and was sponsored by local Indian merchants. The first show was made in 1993 and the second and last was in 1995. Kim and Ibony were key figure on this event. It is generally recognized as the first major hip-hop competition in Tanzania. The talent show attracted large crowds with its diverse and unique delivery of rhymes from different artists.

Ramazani "Remmy" Mtoro Ongala was a Tanzanian guitarist and singer. Ongala was born in Kindu near the Tanzanian border, in what was the Belgian Congo at the time, and now is the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Zenji Flava is a common nickname for Zanzibari Hip Hop music.

Sauti za Busara

Sauti za Busara is an African music festival that is held every year in February in Zanzibar, Tanzania. It is centred in the Old Fort, with fringe events taking place concurrently around Stone Town - including a carnival street parade.

Dhow Countries Music Academy

The Dhow Countries Music Academy (DCMA) is the first and only music school in Zanzibar, Tanzania, located in Old Customs House in Stone Town. The Academy promotes and preserves music heritage of the "Dhow Region" which include countries along the shores of the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf. Particular emphasis is being placed on teaching traditional music styles, such as Taarab, Kidumbaki or Ngoma.

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  11. "BBC NEWS - Africa - Zanzibar outlaws homosexual acts". bbc.co.uk.
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