Ingekua Vipi-MwanaFA Revisited and Re-Released

Ingekuwa Vipi-Revisited And Re-Released Ingekuwa Ingekua Vipi-Revisited And Re-Released MwanaFA [real name Hamis Mwinjuma] is, without a doubt, one of the most successfully and respected Bongo Hip-Hop artist in Tanzania, across East Africa and certainly beyond those borders. If that statement made your eyebrows tilt even a bit, I’d suggest you take one step back and think a little. His lyrics and songs have inspired new words, idioms etc into the street and classroom dictionaries and thesauruses of Swahili. The grandness of his lyrical abilities staggers even me who was once upon a time considered by my peers and schoolmates to be a walking Swahili dictionary. He can rhyme quickly, confidently and cleanly while making sense of every word that come out of his mouth. Recently I approached him with an idea I have wrestled with for a while. How about re-releasing some of the biggest hits from the time when Bongo Fleva/ Bongo Hip-Hop was starting to see the white-blue sky. The motivation is to flaunt the standards of the past and give today’s generation a renewed chance to hear not only the “old school” stuff all over again but to gain a hindsight of the stories behind. He didn’t hesitate even for a second. He agreed and here we are. Let’s Go! *******************************************************************************************
 Like a ship starting a long journey across the world, in 2000s what we now know as Bongo Fleva/Bongo Hip-Hop had just left the harbor. Its destination wasn’t known. Regardless, some bold minded fellas had decided to slow down the Congolese music influx that had dominated Tanzania’s music scene for years. The likes of Sikinde and Msondo had also lost their mojo among younger audience. The youth needed something different to entertain themselves and make one of those postcard-perfect days. 

Tanzania’s youth, like many youth across the globe, had also failed to resist a time capsule of American culture. American Rappers/ Artists etc were becoming more popular among Tanzania’s youth than their own President. Times were changing…and changing at high speed. President Mwinyi had allowed the influx of foreign culture. The country became an opportunity society. For the first time, people could watch television in their living rooms. Entertainment channels like MTV, BET, and CFI etc were now accessible at the comfort of an arm length holding remote controls. Those are the days when it was cool to walk around holding James Hardley Chase novels, magazines such as Ebony, Yo Rap etc with video cassettes tapes for movies that we hardly understood. As the new decade was getting into the groove, Hamis Mwinjuma whom we now know as MwanaFA’s career was also starting to take shape. It wasn’t an easy.

 He was a struggling artist. He was broke. The penetrating tropical sun of cities such as Dar-es-salaam was unleashing its ultimate “burning” power even in his pockets. His only wealth, was his songwriting abilities, vision and confidence that he was/is a good songwriter and therefore his breakthrough was on the way. He had chosen a difficult-to-cope with stage name. Mwanafalsafa [A Philosopher] had to act like one. He had to write like one. I am sure the pressure of living his name was as high as the feeling you get from the first attempt to jump out of plane [in a parachute]. He spent countless hours writing and contemplating. There were many days of gray unrest and discontent. He was eager to establish a pattern of excellence as far as Bongo Fleva/Bongo Hip Hop was concerned. His breakthrough came in 2002. Towards end of 2001, upon reflections, writing, deleting, editing etc, and fusing of intelligence and imagination, MwanaFA had penned down Ingekuwa Vipi.

He clearly remembers where he was when he started writing Ingekuwa Vipi, “I was at home. As you can imagine, I was broke and trying hard to figure out how to move forward. I used to stay home a lot at that time. It was the safest place to be”, he tells me with a broad smile that never existed during those trying times. It occurred that as soon as he had almost finished writing it, Jay Moe [who was to be featured on the track, popped in for a quick visit. MwanaFA let him listen to the lyrics while boom boxing their hands. The lyrics blew his mind. He wanted to be part of it. Success begins with a great idea. Jay Moe saw this as a great idea. It was. What followed was going to Mawingu Studio to meet DJ/Producer Bonny Luv. At that time, Tanzania had very few established producers let alone studios. His choices were limited. Lucky for him, he had recorded some other tracks before with Bonny Luv.

It wasn’t difficult to convince him to take on the project and that Jay Moe was going to be featured. Bonny understood and loved the lyrics as well. Now, contrary to what many people believetoday, Ingekuwa Vipi was not MwanaFA’s first studio recorded song. He had done it before. He just hadn’t penetrated the airwaves the way he did with this one. Ingekuwa Vipi was the first song he released on the radio. He had recorded 4 songs before. He, therefore, had to hide the nerves inside with frequent smiles as he spent countless hours with Bonny Luv perfecting what would turn out to be his “breakthrough” song. He watched the clock as it edged toward “freedom”. “We recorded and left Bonny Luv to mix etc”, He tells me as I attentively admire his recollections of events and struggles that he had to go through before “making it” Those were no days like today. Softwares and technologies weren’t like today where you can e-mail the song to thousands or even million people in a second. Clouds FM was one the few radio stations championing most of grassroots movement of Bongo Fleva/Bongo Hip-Hop. Radio One was another entity but was more selective of what went into air etc. MwanaFA had to take to the radio stations the CD with hand-written [using marker pen] “Ingekuwa Vipi” on top. On 2nd February 2002, Ingekuwa Vipi premiered during Bongo Fleva session, which was hosted by DJ Steve B. On the same day, MwanaFA remembers, Balozi Dolla Soul, Inspekta Haruni and Luteni Kalama and Imam Abbas had dropped their singles.

 Before the end of that session, Ingekuwa Vipi had captured the airwaves not once but twice. He says, “Jeff, I felt like I had just inhaled the cleanest, crispest air I have ever breathed” In the first week since its release, Ijumaa newspaper reported that Ingekuwa Vipi had played 72 times in different radio stations. A record. To him, salvation was getting through the day. Success in the airwaves meant Mwanafalsafa was now becoming popular but also with an opportunity to make money. He remembers his first show was for Embassy and was coordinated by Jimmy Kabwe, a veteran DJ who has recently re-joined Clouds Media Group after years of roaming in other stations. The event was held at The Leaders Club. He pocketed TZS 50,000/=. That was a lot of money then. He took the smile to the bank. The wind was suddenly sweet. The sun was warm over the country flowers. Life was getting better and sweeter. His success was almost cut short though. The group Walume Ndago decided to challenge his song. It was almost an underground battle of Nine Miles. They released a counter titled Ingekuwa Poa [It’d be Just Alright] 

When I asked Mwanafalsafa how did the counter song sink with him, he calmly said, “Not very well Jeff. See, at that time I was a newcomer into the game. I had no experience at all of being “crucified” like that. I thought was a huge injustice towards me”. Lucky for him, someone else defended him. Another group released a counter over Walume Ndago’s counter. That neutralized the whole experience. MwanaFA had started his long journey into stardom. He had broken out of the lineup. Here is your chance to Listen And Download Ingekuwa Vipi. THE LYRICS ARE AVAILABLE HERE

Article by Jeff of BongoCelebrity

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