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Country Tanzania Genres traditional roots Festival Sauti za Busara 2011
Over 70 years ago in 1936 Staff Band Namasabo was first formed, known then as the Huni Band. The aim was to bring together people in celebration of the customs and culture of Ukerewe. Just 45km off the coast of Mwanza, Ukerewe is the largest island of Lake Victoria and home to Staff Band Namasabo.
In its early stages, it assembled young people together with the islands’ elders in a variety of artistic activities to entertain at various events and festivals at the village level. Over the decades they grew to become more widely known around the North West region of Tanzania, continuing to share the songs of Ukerewe and ceremonial life from the island.
In 1968, the group gained national recognition in their participation of the lake region contest, which they won. There, the then chairman of the Revolutionary Council of Zanzibar first President Amani Abeid Karume, was so impressed by their performance during the tournament he gave them the name “Staff Band Namasabo”. Some twenty years later, the group continued to participate in traditional dance competitions around the province, and even won the state tournament show put on in honour of the arrival on Pope John II in 1990. Just as they did in the early 1930s, Staff Band Namasabo now with 34 group members share celebratory songs and dances unique to Ukerewe, 14 of whom will perform during this year’s festival.