Sharing the past in sound…


By Jaston Binala.


The most fascinating words in the English language are short—usually about four letters or thereabout.  You‘re now probably thinking about the words  kiss and love.  Well…..I have something else in mind—the word ‘Share’.  Share is probably one of the most used words in today’s world as we share virtually everything. Some people even share their love.

Anyway, I don’t want to turn this into a psychology debate.  I set out to share music.  I am a very musical person and I do know there are others out there with whom I share that interest. So please allow me to share with you some of the music that I love so much; some is old Tanzanian music , some is from elsewhere.

Back in the past, sometime between  1962 – 1965, when I was growing up, the people from my part of Tanganyika brought back from Johannesburg south African music.

Electric record players did not exist here at the time.  The  South African music would therefore be played from gramophones, the earlier version of record players  which did not use electricity at all. It was all mechanical.

The music records, brought back by migrant workers from Southern Tanganyika who’d traveled to  South Africa to work in the gold mines, broke after some time.

The gramophone machines and  music records would eventually get ruined anyway because they were designed to play music using  one needle for one play, but those needles would be used over, and over and over until  they wouldn’t work any more or until the plastic record got ruined.

When the needle got too blunt to read the plastic record,  I remember we’d  simply sharpen  a nail to play the music, and whatever party was going on would resume. For those of us who’d learned to enjoy  Zulu music brought from ‘Kujoni’, it was such a great loss when the gramophone broke down or when somebody broke the plastic record, or when the nails  had destroyed the plastic record  so much there was too much scratch on the music.

Thank God somebody discovered internet! The music is available on the internet.  I’d never thought there would come a time during this same lifetime when I’d get access to some of the best music on planet earth—the music I loved so much from  South Africa  which my uncle would play at his  home in the mountains where we lived.

I am so thankful to the internet  I was able to locate the song we called  Maning’ining’i  by the Dark City Sisters of Soweto. I ‘m sure you are going to like the song, too.  The internet calls it  Tap Tap Ntshebe, but …’this is not the correct name’;  this is the song  we called Maning’ining’I in Southern Tanganyika.

And by the way,  a joke was developed around it.  If somebody asked another person to respond to the Kiswahili question Nini?  The answer would be: “Maning’ining’i senti 70”.  It was an expensive song to ask  somebody to play for you. It cost 70 cents to play. That means if somebody had asked you a question in Kiswahili and it was a difficult question to reply to in Kiswahili, the shortcut to denying a reply would be the payment for that song.  Maning’ining’i senti 70!

Wait a minute. I think I have something else I want to share with you. One day in 1987 I was so tired and had gone to sleep with books on my lap. I think I was preparing for  exams where I stayed while attending  college. Sleep had taken me unawares. I had  gone to sleep while my clock radio was still tuned to my favorite FM Station, LOQ, the Jazz Station.  Somewhere around 3.00 AM I heard the sound of a very nice song in my sleep. And what was the song? Rio de Janeiro Blues.

I was not able to own that song for many many years until 2015 when I remembered those few words from the song and asked internet and bingo! Here it is…  Please enjoy  my selection of old music.  If you have any comment , or a song you’d like to share with me please drop me a line  for Jaston  at  <>.