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Ikhwani Safaa Musical Club

world tanzania zanzibar folk arabic

The Ikhwani Safaa Musical Club was founded in 1905 following the Sultan's intention to create recreational associations on the island. The name itself means "brothers who love one another" and reflects the egalitarian and supportive aims of the club. The Club is the oldest in Zanzibar, and has been one of the main currents in Zanzibari music throughout this century - sales of their cassettes comprise the bulk of the cassette copy-shops' trade. After the revolution in 1964, the name was changed to the Malindi Musical Club and affiliated to the local Party Branch, but is now (1988) reverting to the original name. This means that its orchestra is currently known by either name on the island. After the revolution the Club became open to women members.

Following the disappearance of royal patrons and then the socialist state, Zanzibarís taarab orchestras are now fighting a tough battle for survival. Ikhwani Safaa is a 20-piece orchestra with violins, ganoons, ney, guitar, accordion and percussion, and they've been worked into great form.

The double-bass player use thick rubbery shark line pulled up to tension for their strings, the ganoon players use a much lighter fish gauge. As it is, the string players seem to have a convention of tuning below concert pitch to avoid excessive wear and tear on the strings, effectively turning the keyboards and accordions into transposing instruments.
The Club has visited Kenya, Burundi, Oman and Dubai, and many of its musicians visited the UK in 1985 as members of the National Taarab Orchestra.

The line-up, in 1988, was: Omar Said Ali, Ali Salum, Haroub Abdalla, Saleh Mussa, Hisham Abdalla, Salim Kassim, Abdullah Khamis - violins; Seif Salim Saleh - violin and ud; Ally Salum - ganoon; Ally Salim - accordion; Abubakar Mohammed - guitar; Haji Mohammed - organ; Khamis Mohammed - bass; Juma Saidi Hamadi - cello; Hussein Ali, Abdul Rahman Baju Beir - ney; Abeid Muhsin, Said Abdalla, Rashid Hamid - percussion; Aziza Abdalla, Sihaba Juma, Rukhia Ramadhan, Maulidi Mohammed, Mohammed Ilays, Seif Salim Saleh, Kassim Mohammed, Abubakar Mohammed, Innat Alawi, Awadh Salim, Firiyal Rashied, Khadija Salim, Ali Masoud, Moh'd Shatri, Amur Khalfan, Salim Abdalla, Haji Ameri, Moh'd Salim, Ahmed Saleh, Masoud Mfaume, Ahmed Ali, Attiye Attaye, Mohammed Ahmed - singers and chorus; Humud Mohammed, Haroub Seif - technicians.

Ikhwani Safaa Musical Club has published photos.