Taarab, a fusion of Indian, Arabic, and African sounds popular on the Swahili coast of Southeast Africa, has a special place for Hindi film music. Traditionally sung in the Swahili language at weddings and social gatherings, Taarab songs weave several themes into the lyrics, including romance and politics. One of its brightest stars is Maulidi Juma Iha, the singer-composer who formed the Maulidi and Musical Party in 1972. Here is “Palipo Na Mwema Jua Na Muovu Yuko”, which takes its melody from the popular Kishore Kumar solo “Dekh Sakta Hoon Main” from the film Majboor (1974).
Maulidi Juma Iha specialises in performing at the kutoleza nje – a bridal shower ceremony where women dance through the night. His band has released several albums of cover versions of Hindi songs under the Mombasa-based record label Mzuri. The song “Sharia” owes its allegiance to“Dil Mein Tujhe Bitha Ke” from the movie Fakira (1976).
“Yaillahi Nipa” takes after “Salamat Rahe Dostana Hamara” from Dostana (1980).
There are over two dozen of these songs on YouTube – yet another instance of the phenomenal popularity impact of Hindi film music beyond its traditional markets.
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