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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'It's Just No Fun Anymore': Women's Experiences of Taarab before and After the 1964 Zanzibar Revolution
Author:Fair, Laura
Periodical:International Journal of African Historical Studies
Geographic term:Zanzibar
History and Exploration
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Women's Issues
Architecture and the Arts
Cultural Roles
Sex Roles
Abstract:'Taarab', a particular style of Swahili music noted for its distinctive sound and poetry, was the most popular form of musical entertainment in early 20th-century Zanzibar. This paper examines the historical transformations of 'taarab' music from World War II through the 1960s, with a particular emphasis on women's experiences of 'taarab' performance before and after the 1964 revolution. It explores the particularities of the production and consumption of 'taarab' in two distinct periods of the island's history, with the aim of unravelling what made it 'fun' in the earlier period and decidedly less so in the later period. The central argument of the paper is that the pleasures women derived from 'taarab' were located more in women's autonomous control of the varied social practices that were part of the total 'taarab' experience, than in the rhyme, metre, rhythm, sound or performance of the music itself. Following the 'socialist' revolution of 1964, the State took direct control of 'taarab' clubs and the production of 'taarab' music with the result that women lost control of the ability to shape 'taarab' as a social activity. The article is based on interviews conducted in Zanzibar between 1990 and 1992. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]