These Musicians Are Making A Contemporary East African Sound

Santuri East Africa Genre Guide Cover
Santuri East Africa initiative names some of the artists—past and present—making Tanzania, Kenya and beyond an exciting creative scene.

I moved to Tanzania in 2012 after six years in Berlin working around the fringes of the music industry. When an offer came up to spend a couple of years there, I saw it as an opportunity to get involved with some projects dedicated to music and cultural preservation. Working with the Tanzania Heritage Project gave me a chance to witness two sides of the coin right away: an amazing and forgotten musical archive on the one hand, and the Kafkaesque bureaucracy that kept it under wraps and under threat on the other. It was equal parts enlightening and deeply frustrating, but through that experience I ended on a path towards developing the Santuri East Africa initiative, which is a project that connects East African musicians, DJs and producers with counterparts elsewhere in the world.

Santuri is a platform for collaboration, from workshops and festival programming in East Africa to record releases and tours. DJ culture has been the vehicle that has driven the project forward and connects the dots between the digging and sharing of amazing and unheard music (such as the Sunburst release on Strut Records) to the development of a network pushing an innovative, contemporary East African sound. I’ve highlighted a few of artists and inspirations that I’ve been lucky enough to come across in the last few years here, but of course there are hundreds more.


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