Dhow Countries Music Academy is the only music school in Zanzibar. We preserve and promote music heritage of Zanzibar the „dhow region” which include countries along the shores of the Indian Ocean and the Arab Gulf such as Zanzibar, Comorros, Oman, Kuwait, Iran, U.A.E and India. Particular emphasis is being placed on teaching traditional music styles, such as taarab, kidumbak and ngoma. The DCMA is proud to be the guardians of a living cultural heritage and proud to keep the musical heritage of Zanzibar and the „dhow region”.
Dhow Countries Music Academy took its name from traditional sailing vessels, invented by Arabs, used in the Indian Ocean region. The Arabian Peninsula has a rich maritime history of trade and cultural exchange with East African coast. Dhows have been used in the region for centuries, and were key in developing trade industries as well as cultural exchanges. DCMA is a center for the teaching and performance of music traditions that travelled with the boats from Middle East to Africa.
The Academy was established in 2002 by a group of local musicians and music enthusiasts: Emerson Skeens, Hildegard Kiel, Mohammed Issa “Matona”, Joseph Castico Iddi Farahan and Haji Mohammed Omar. Throughout the years it had more than 1500 students. DCMA is one of the most prominent ambassadors of taarab music in the world. It has gained an ever increasing international reputation for teaching traditional music. In 2007, DCMA was co-presented with the BBC World Music Award, acknowledging “enormous contribution to revitalizing both Zanzibar’s musical heritage and the world music scene globally”. In 2010 DCMA won Roskilde World Music Award for teaching traditional music. More global genres and contemporary styles like afro-fusion or jazz are being thought. In addition special workshops, seminars, concerts, exchange visits and networking activities take place throughout the year.
We see traditional and contemporary arts as a catalyst for development. The mission of DCMA is to strengthen the music industry of Zanzibar by researching, preserving, promoting and developing the musical heritage of the island and the dhow countries. We want our students to become well educated musicians, both practically and theoretically. We also aim to serve as a sustainable training center that seek-out, train, promote and market qualified professionals in Africa. We use music as a tool for social change and youth empowerment. DCMA is active in creating job opportunities for its students. For many of them music became profession. Thanks to education they received at DCMA many now enjoy local and international music careers. DCMA organizes around 170 paid concerts yearly and cooperates with hotels and restaurants in providing music. 2/3 of the teaching staff are Academy’s graduates. DCMA students and graduates are regularly performing in Zanzibar, Tanzania, Africa and other continents.