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Documentary About Rap In Tanzania Wins H2O Film Award


11 November 2004 No Comment

The documentary Hali Halisi – rap as an alternative medium in Tanzania by Madunia, the people behind the Africanhiphop.com website, has won an award for Best Short Documentary at the fourth edition of the H2O (Hip Hop Odyssey) film festival which took place in New York in the first week of November 2004. It’s the first time for an audiovisual production on East African hip hop to receive major acknowledgement outside the African continent…

Female emcee Jean Grae handed the award to co-producer Thomas Gesthuizen (a.k.a. Juma4) during the Awards ceremony which took place on November 7 in the Symphony Space hall in New York. At the same occasion, honors awards were given to pioneers Kurtis Blow, Queen Latifah, RZA (Wu-Tang) and Russell Simmons (Def Jam). 

The ceremony was attended by many hip hop legends including Afrika Bambaata, dj Kool Herc, Grandmaster Caz (Cold Crush Brothers), UTFO, Mc Lyte, Dres (Black Sheep) and Lord Jamar (Brand Nubian) as well as younger artists and presenters like Jojo (KC & Jojo), Murs, Keith Murray and Tanzanian rapper Dola Soul, who also features in Hali Halisi. 

Madunia received congratulations from many people at the awards including pioneering filmmaker Melvin van Peebles and the legendary female emcee Roxanne Shante. 

About Hali Halisi
In June 1999, Madunia foundation filmed Hali Halisi, a 30-minute video documentary about rap in Tanzania (East Africa). Hali Halisi (a Swahili expression meaning “the real situation”) portrays rap as an alternative medium in Tanzania. Rappers and experts give their views on the emerging hip hop scenes of Dar es Salaam and the island of Zanzibar, and their thoughts on the importance of rap as a medium for communication and an instrument of change. The film centers around the most popular emcees at the time, including Mr II (Sugu), Deplowmatz, Gangwe Mobb, GWM, X Plastaz and Bantu Pound. 

A quote from the film (Dola Soul, Deplowmatz): Hiphop shouldn’t be all about ‘I shot your mom, fuck your dad. People are dying out there in the streets, people are executed in countries. We want to bring out messages in our raps and tell the people what is going on and how we can change the world to make it a better place to live in. 

The film was directed by Martin Meulenberg, a teacher at the School of Journalism in Utrecht (Holland) while research was carried out by Thomas Gesthuizen, editor of the Africanhiphop.com website. It was primarily aimed at students from schools of journalism around the world, but Madunia received orders from many different people. The film was influential in publicizing the concept of rap as a medium for development on an international scale, and various NGOs in the Netherlands and abroad started development projects based on the idea. 

Hali Halisi was previously shown at the Zanzibar Film Festival (2001) and the Vancouver International Hip Hop Film Festival in Canada (2004). It was broadcast in Tanzania by ITV while webportal Aka.com showed parts of it online in 2001. 

Hip hop in Tanzania
The documentary gives an impression of rap in Tanzania at the time when the documentary was made (1999). Tanzania has had a thriving hip hop scene since the early nineties, and many emcees rap in Swahili, the most important language in the region. Since 1999, a lot has changed: while locally produced rap has become the most popular musical genre in the country, the themes of lyrics are no longer predominantly conscious. Still, a large and growing underground scene current exists and recently, pioneer artists have shown efforts to organize conferences and workshops, thus regaining focus on the use of hip hop culture as a tool for developing society. 

More info about the film
For more info about Hali Halisi and to order the DVD version, see www.africanhiphop.com/halihalisi 

Also check out… 
the new album release ‘Maasai Hip Hop’ by X Plastaz, one of the crews featured in Hali Halisi. Their track ‘Msimu kwa msimu’ has been a radio favorite with international deejays including the late John Peel, now cop the full album of this group which fuses Maasai chanting, Swahili rapping and hardcore beats!
The cd can be ordered online or bought at stores around the world, see www.xplastaz.com for more info.

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