SPLA : Portal to cultural diversity
Sanaa Central

Watengwa

Genre : Band
Column : Music
Arusha
Tanzania
http://www.watengwamusic.com/

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Watengwa is a revolutionary hiphop group of musicians based in the slums of Kijenge ya juu Arusha Tanzania East Afrika. The group was established back in 1990's by 11 members, but the group spread into many neighborhoods of Arusha. The original members of Watengwa include, Jcb, Umbwa Mzee a.k.a Chindo, Alwatan Kwele, Chacalito (Chaca), Yuzzo, Donii .a.k.a Don pronke, Chabba, D'wee, Bung'aa, Comz, Lau, Ghetto Queen, TypeY, and Chaba.  Since its inception the group has grown and evolved; the gifted artists and friends of Watengwa are too many to name.



Before Watengwa came into existence many members had their own music groups, for instance; Umbwa Mzee, Donii and Rober performed together as Bootcamp, while Jcb a.k.a Degree, Lord Eyes and Spark's group was known as Hardcore Unit. Chaca came from Aangserian, Yuzzo from Kikosi cha Mizinga, Chaba from ATF (Arusha town finest) and Kwele hailed from Dop Squad. When Hardcore Unit split up Spark went on and formed KCK while Lord Eyes started Nako2Nako.  JCB initiated Watengwa, and the rest connected through various channels to build the Watengwa family and ideology.

 

Jcb and Umbwa have been foundational in the formation and growth of Watengwa. After Umbwa finished computer studies at Aptech Institute, he suggested they open a music studio in Kijenge ya Juu, creating an accessible and local space for Arusha artists.  Up until this point, most artists needed to travel to Dar –es salaam, in order to record their music.  When the studio was opened (circa 2000) the group barely scraped together needed recording equipment.  Armed with an unreliable microphone, a shoddy keyboard and pirated musical software for their single computer they not only produced music but provided a platform that had empowering effects on Arusha artists and youth.

 

Watengwa lyrics are rooted in real life experiences, with particular attention to the worldview of Afrikans and the global flows that inform their lives. Watengwa considers  themselves a revolutionary army in the fight for positive ways of confronting and surviving street life.  While their music is deeply embedded in Afrikan perspectives and realities, they have been influences by western Hip-hop legends such as MC Hammer, Kool Moe Dee, Busy Bee, Public Enemy, Snoop, Dr. Dre, NWA, Warren G, Salt n Pepa, Heavy D, Wu-tang, Notorious B.I.G, Onyx, Lost boys, Guru, and Immortal Technique.

 

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