School Dance Competition 2018

On Saturday 18th August the CAC performance hall was full of dancers and their fans from 8 local secondary schools who were participating in the School Dance Competition. This is part of the CAC's outreach programmes which were begun by Carol Stubbs. CAC dancers went out to the schools for 6 afternoons, and then on the Saturday they all came together to show each other what they had learned, and to compete.

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This year we began with each school planting a mpingo tree in memory of Carol. These trees were part of a donation through Daraja Music Initiative, and coordinated by Gary Sperl. Mpingo is the national tree of Tanzania and is often used for carvings and making instruments, including the Western clarinet.

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The dancing was opened an opportunity for the students to see their teachers perform as the CAC dancers took to the stage. 

The three judges were all selected for their expertise in Tanzanian traditional dancing and music. This year they were Awadh Mwinyi, Beda Mwitu and Salome Liyando. The guest of honour was the Cultural Officer of the Meru District, Senyaeli Pallangyo, who spoke of the importance of keeping Tanzanian traditions alive, especially through its young people. 

This year the selected dance was Bugobogobo from the Sukuma people in Mwanza. It celebrates agriculture and uses the jembe, or hoe. It was selected because this year the outreach project was running over Nane Nane, Tanzania's Day for Farmers and learning about agriculture. 

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The winning school was Usa River Academy, followed by Makumira Secondary, and with Poli Secondary in third place. 

Best dancers were Zulfa Abdallah (Muungano Secondary) and Samuel Zacharia (Uraki Secondary), and Best Drummer was Ester Mariki (Muungano Secondary).

A great day was had by all, and a special thank you goes to the CAC teachers who did such a great job teaching their students. We are already looking forward to the competition next year! 

If you would like to support our School Outreach Programme and ensure it continues in the future, you can find out more information here:

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Cultural Experience with Nanda Journeys

From Monday 23rd to Wednesday 25th of July 2018 we had the pleasure of welcoming a group of 10 Music educators from the USA for a Cultural Experience at the CAC. They were from different professions including music therapy, university and high school music teachers, professional musicians and conductors and even two nurses. 


At the CAC they started with a dancing class. Despite the age gap, soon the visitors were dancing along happily with the CAC artists, who were amazed, particularly at the oldest visitor who was 87 years old! As well as learning to dance, they had a class of drumming, and even learned to make a drum from a cow hide and a metal barrel. Of the drums that they made, some they generously donated to the School of St Judes, who didn't have enough in their music classes. 

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As well as learning at the CAC, they spent a morning with our partner outreach school, Uraki Secondary. There they sat in on a music class taught by our Artistic Director, Emmanuel Ndale, and had the opportunity to see how music is taught, and the challenges teachers face, in a government secondary school. To follow on from this experience the visitors had the opportunity to talk to and listen to the experiences of Tanzanian music teachers from around the Arusha area, who were all graduates of the Music Department at Tumaini University Makumira, and have gone on to different careers, as well as further study, in music. 

During the three days they were at the CAC they also had the opportunity to visit our exhibition area, where they learned about instruments from around Tanzania, and the Traditional Village, with bomas (homesteads) from the Maasai, Meru Arusha people. Thankfully it has not been so rainy so the mud has reduced, and we have had to dig a trench to drain off the water from what turns out to be a natural spring right near where the bomas were built. This only appeared recently after exceptionally heavy rain this year.

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A highlight of the week was food cooked by Mama Aisha! The visitors had the opportunity to taste Tanzanian food including ugali, pilau, chapati, kachumbari, mchuzi and ndizi, and they all tucked in happily after busy mornings of activity. 

Finally at the end of their stay with us we were treated to a little performance by all of the visitors, and they received their certificates for participating in workshops with the CAC. We are looking forward to having more cheerful groups such as these!

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Music Department End of Year Concert

Congratulations to the graduating class of the Music Department who had their concert yesterday, Sunday 15th July! We had a great concert with around 700 people in the audience: sitting on every available surface! 

This was a special concert as well as it was dedicated to the memory of Carol Stubbs who was a lecturer in the music department but sadly passed away this May. She was a great inspiration for many people in the Makumira community and her work with outreach programs in secondary schools, a girl's choir, and trainings for young musicians have been particularly important. We collected 339,000TZS to continue work in these areas (if you would like to contribute to this work please find more information here). 

The concert began with some Wanyakusa drumming, followed by several pieces by the Music Department choir, and then the Utukufu Choir from Moshono Lutheran Parish. Then we welcomed the Uraki Secondary School choir, and directed by Joanitha, an alumna from Uraki Secondary who currently works for the CAC. They sang Kumbaya, an American spiritual song, which was taught to them by Carol Stubbs, to whom the concert was dedicated, and included a moving tribute to Carol. Then we had the first chamber orchestra performance at the CAC, accompanying the music department in a rendition of Baba Yetu, the Lord's Prayer set to music by Christopher Tin. After another piece by the Tumaini University choir, the first half was brought to a close with Mozart's Regina Coeli 108, with chamber orchestra and the music department and Moshono choirs. A special mention should be made for the soloist, Catherine Mushi, an alumna from the TUMa Music Department who was trained by Carol Stubbs and sent ripples of amazement through the audience at her vocal feats. 

After a few minutes of speech from a representative of the university, the second half began with a Wanyakusa traditional dance from the music students, then a short performance from the CAC dancers of traditional and fusion music. This was followed by a heartfelt rendition of Cry Me a River by Joash Ailla, Jimmy Kimutuo and Excel Haonga, and then we were into the final section of the concert with bongo fleva tunes, starting out with Libebe (Beka), sung by Theodore Ngwembele and backed by the CAC Fusion and Jimmy Kimutuo on piano. Many people got up to dance and it was a great end to the concert. 

A special thanks to the music students: Atuokoe Tweve, Ismael Nko, Jimmy Kimutuo, Joash Ailla, John Mfinanga, Paulo Bayona, Theodore Ngwembele, and Yuda Joseph. Also thank you to all of the music lecturers, especially Hanna and Kimmo, who are leaving us to go back to Finland. 


Music department students Ismael Nko and Joash Ailla with Mwalimu Kimmo

Music department students Ismael Nko and Joash Ailla with Mwalimu Kimmo

Uraki Secondary School Choir singing Kumbaya

Uraki Secondary School Choir singing Kumbaya

Performing Mozart with the chamber orchestra and choirs

Performing Mozart with the chamber orchestra and choirs

A full audience at the CAC: standing room only!

A full audience at the CAC: standing room only!

Performing bongo fleva with Theodore Ngwembele

Performing bongo fleva with Theodore Ngwembele

Bent Marble Documentary Training

We have just completed a 3 week short documentary training course with Bent Marble, run by Steve Clack. 12 participants completed the course by making a short documentary on a range of topics including local heroes and biographies about local artists/people in the community.

Participants learned about pre- production, techniques for filming and interviewing, and editing. As we all teaching from Steve, local professionals contributed to the collaborative learning space, and the class formed the beginnings of a network of filmmakers in which experienced professionals were sharing knowledge and experiences with beginners. John and Louise Riber from Media for Development International also shared their expertise with the class. 

For more information about Bent Marble and their work you can find them here:

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Daraja Music Initiative at CAC: ft Gary Sperl

We were pleased to host Daraja Music Initiative (DMI) all the way from Moshi this week for our regular show in the CAC performance hall. DMI began as Clarinets for Conservation, teaching clarinet to young people in Moshi as well as planting Mpingo trees, from which you get the hard black wood to carve clarinets. It is a very slow-growing tree, and as the demand is high, it is becoming scarce. In 2015 they expanded to include violin lessons as well, and they all came to the CAC to perform on the main stage, side by side with the professional performers of the CAC. 

The CAC's connection with the DMI is through Gary Sperl, a professional clarinetist from the USA who has been coming to the music department at Tumaini University Makumira to volunteer for 10 years. He is currently here  in Tanzania teaching woodwind, music business and outreach at Uraki Secondary School.

DMI have also generously donated 50 mpingo trees to be planted on the CAC grounds. Some are now one year old and as tall as Gary!

For more information about DMI you can find them here:

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gary sperl with a one year old mpingo tree

gary sperl with a one year old mpingo tree