Country Zanzibar Genres roots taarab traditional Website Festival Sauti za Busara 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012 Recordings
Zanzibar (Retroafric, 1995), Machozi ya Huba (Heartbeat, 2003), Zanzibara 4: Bi Kidude (Buda, 2006)
Bi Kidude bint Baraka is Zanzibar's most famous cultural ambassador and East Africa's legendary barefoot diva of taarab and unyago traditional music.
Bi Kidude's exact date of birth is unknown, much of her life story is uncorroborated, giving her an almost mythical status. Kidude started out her musical career in the 1920s, and learnt many of her songs with Siti bint Saad. She has performed in countries all around Europe, Africa, Middle East and Japan and finally recorded her first solo album Zanzibar only ten years ago, whilst already in her mid-eighties. Having contributed tracks to many international compilations (on Retro-Afric, Piranha, Globestyle, Jahazi, even EMI/Virgin record labels), only recently did she release her own second locally-produced album (Machozi ya Huba, Heartbeat Records) with her traditional singing and drums influencing the burgeoning Zenji Flava local hiphop scene in one of the most remarkable juxtapositions of musical style in modern world music.
As well as being East Africa's most famous taarab singer, Bi Kidude performs traditional unyago music. In her 90s, she is still very much the island's leading exponent of this ancient dance ritual, performed exclusively for teenage girls, which uses traditional rhythms to teach women to pleasure their husbands, while lecturing against the dangers of sexual abuse and oppression.
In October 2005, Bi Kidude was presented with the World Music Expo (WOMEX) lifetime achievement award. Renowned African music expert Banning Eyre delivered a moving tribute, in which he informed delegates that "the singer, well in her nineties yet still sporting a bone-crushing handshake, received the honours in recognition of her more than 80 years of singing and serving as a cultural mediator and advisor of the younger generations, including on matters of sex and marriage - a proper symbol of World Music's emancipatory, liberating and strengthening power."
Bi Kidude (19??- 17 April 2013)
It is with very heavy hearts that we mourn the passing of Fatuma binti Baraka, better known as ‘Bi Kidude’. We will always remember her and be grateful for her voice, her spirit, and her immortal contributions to Zanzibari music and culture. Rest in Peace, Bibi! We love you.
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