The Embassy of Germany and Goethe-Institut Tanzania have donated new instruments and musical equipment to the Dhow Countries Music Academy (DCMA) in Zanzibar. An official handover ceremony will be held in Stone Town in early September.
The instruments and equipment include a digital piano, drum set, electric guitar, cymbals, mixer, orchestra stands and keyboard combos.
“It is an extraordinary gift that will allow the DCMA to strengthen its capacity and our students to learn and perform on high-quality instruments and equipment,” DCMA managing director Adrian Podgorny told Music In Africa. “Thanks to that they will be able to become better musicians and through that empower the music sector of Zanzibar with increased skills.”
Goethe-Institut Tanzania director Frank Werner said the DCMA’s outstanding role in the Tanzanian music industry had inspired the cultural centre to make the donation.
“In February this year I paid my first official visit to DCMA in Stone Town,” he said. “I was immediately impressed by the spirit of the place, which is carried by the dedicated staff and the ambitious musical talents studying there. When Adrian Podgorny showed the instrument room to me, I observed that most of the traditional instruments had aged and that there were only a few modern instruments.”
Werner had worked in the music department at Goethe-Institut’s head office in Munich, Germany, and was aware of a special fund for instrument grants as well as the procedures required to apply for it. He told Podgorny to send him a list of the instruments that the DCMA was in most need of.
“I approached the German Embassy with the idea and because they know and appreciate the work of the DCMA, they supported the grant without hesitation,” Werner said, adding that his organisation is making serious efforts to improve the Tanzanian music industry.
“The music sector is one of the key figures in the creative industry of Tanzania. We complement the life music scene in Dar es Salaam by offering an open stage for upcoming bands and soloist every two month. We also run vocational trainings with changing Tanzanian partner institutions for musicians, stage managers or sound engineers,” Werner said.
“Once a year we welcome a German band as part of our annual regional music tour to Dar es Salaam. That is to give the Tanzanian listeners a chance to confront themselves with new sounds and to improve their listening experience. In short we try to add to the professional music infrastructure in Tanzania and to offer a sound experience beyond the mainstream.”
In a similar development, the Palestinian ambassador to Tanzania, Hazem M Shabat, donated a qanun, oud and ney to the DCMA in mid-July. The handover ceremony was attended by the Minister of Information, Tourism and Archives, Mahmoud Thabit Kombo, as well as the DCMA board of trustees, staff and students.
“This donation is very important for the DCMA, as it helps our programme for traditional taarab music,” Podgorny said. “These are high-quality instruments and they are difficult to get in Tanzania. The donation from the Palestinian ambassador is also a first step in reconnecting links between the DCMA and Palestine, links that were very strong in the past.”