|Born||Fatuma binti Baraka
Sultanate of Zanzibar
|Died||17 April 2013|
Medal for Arts and Sports
Fatuma binti Baraka (c.1910s – 17 April 2013), also known as Bi Kidude, was a Zanzibari-born Tanzanian Taarab singer. She has been called the "queen of Taarab and Unyago music" and was inspired by Siti binti Saad. Born in the village of Mfagimaringo, Bi Kidude was the daughter of a coconut seller in colonial Zanzibar. Bi Kidude's exact date of birth is unknown and much of her life story is uncorroborated, giving her an almost mythical status.
In 2005, Bi Kidude received the WOMEX award for her outstanding contribution to music and culture in Zanzibar.
As a child, she was singled out for her fine voice and, in the 1920s, sang locally with popular cultural troupes, combining an understanding of music with an equally important initiation into traditional medicine. At age 13, after a forced marriage, she fled Zanzibar to mainland Tanzania. Bi Kidude toured mainland East Africa with a taarab ensemble, visiting the major coastal towns and inland as far west as Lake Victoria and Tanganyika.
She walked the length and the breadth of the country barefoot in the early 1930s, fleeing another unhappy marriage. In the 1930s, she ended up in Dar es Salaam, where she sang with Egyptian Taarab groups for many years. In the 1940s, she returned to Zanzibar, where she acquired a small mud hut to be her home. She is known for her role in the Unyago movement which prepares young Swahili women for their transition through puberty. She was one of the experts of this ancient ritual, performed only to teenage girls, which uses traditional rhythms to teach women to pleasure their husbands, while lecturing against the dangers of sexual abuse and oppression.
Much of her early life is uncorroborated as there is no published book or work documenting her life, apart from the video documentary "As old as my Tongue - The Myth and Life of Bi Kidude" by director Andy Jones. Some musical experts have called upon the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania to come up with a full Biography of this icon.
Fame within Zanzibar
Her fame has been widely acknowledged throughout the local Zanzibari and Zazibari tourism community, with the luxury hotel on the island, '236 Hurumzi', naming their restaurant 'Kidude' in her honour. She was often found residing within the lobby of this hotel in Stonetown.
Bi Kidude has worked with various Taarab groups, but her first solo work is called Zanzibar, it demonstrates Bi Kidude at the peak of her performing power.
Awards and nominations
|Medal for Arts and Sports||Tanzania||2012|
- 2005 WOMEX award
- 2011 Tanzania Music Awards - Best Collaboration & Best Traditional Song ('Ahmada' with Offside trick)
- Bi Kidude Honored with World Music Award
- The Venerable Queen of Taarab and Unyago
- As Old As My Tongue: the myth and life of Bi Kidude documentary film on Bi Kidude.
- Biographic Notes
- Some recordings (An interview)