Thursday, January 17, 2013


Vanessa Mdee
Me, John Kitime
The sweet voice of Vanessa Mdee  is another refreshing sound in the music airwaves of Tanzania. What first drove me to want to hear this young lady was actually her second name Mdee, the name meant many things to me. In 1972 I joined the Kleruu College of national Eduction in Iringa, a teachers training college. One of the first things that I got information about was that there was a college band, maybe because I reported at the college with a guitar in my hand, and sure enough I met a couple of guys rehearsing in a small room that was a store for the guitars and also the rehearsal room, there I met Kassim El Siagy, who is now a prominent film maker based in Tanga, playing the lead guitar, ( a heavy Hofner guitar that had ana excellent tone, I have yet to see anothe like it), there was another guy who was from Musoma and new all the Musoma Jazz band songs, and also met this short guy Yusuph Mdee. Yusuph and I became firm friends immediately ( a friendship that got us through many adventures and was cut of with his death), as we found we shared a common bond musically, we all loved soul music, and sang by heart many songs by the then greats Wilson Pickett, James Brown, Otis Redding, Clarence Carter, Percy Slegde and many others, and we also loved the same bands from Tanzania, Afro70, Safari Trippers, The Sparks, The Comets, soon we were sharing the same cubicle, which soon became the music center of the whole college.  Yusuph had joined the college coming from Dar es Salaam where he was a member of a famous Upanga group which called itself The Groove Makers, a teenage band that had good musicians  some of whom are now holding top positions in the government. So we put our heads together and composed a number of songs which have never been recorded, but were performed at the college dances every time the college band performed.Yusuph was a great singer and guitarist, he later went on to become a graphic artists after joining a college in Italy to pursue education on art. After completing his education he came back to Tanzania and continued his love for music by becoming a very famous DJ in Arusha, a task he carried on until his death in October 1999. Funny though I see a lot of Yusuph in Vanessa, and I believe with the right management she will go far, she has the voic and the right charm.

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