KAYA BAIKOKO – NGOMA YA TANGA
Baikoko has recently become one of the most favoured night entertainments around Dar es Salaam. Baikoko groups play in roadside bars, at weddings or being invited as an added attraction for modern taarab nights. The group that started it all is Dogo Dogo Stars Baikoko, recently renamed Kaya Baikoko.
Baikoko originated in the Digo villages around Tanga in the early 1990s. There it had evolved out of a number of older Digo ngoma genres like gita, chera and mdindiko. Baikoko grew directly out of the latter from which it inherited the long msondo drum, the shakers and the mabuyu, kind of trumpets originally made out of gourds. To the original drum line-up Baikoko added an array of dogole, three bass-type drums, that guide the dancers. The dance style is directly linked to the ngoma ya ndani, an exclusive women-only dance, formerly only practised “inside” (as the name suggests) not to be visible for men. Ngoma ya ndani is known among all the Mijikenda people down the Kenya coast from the Bajuni to the Digo, elsewhere it can be likened to msondo or unyago, part of the initiation of girls into adulthood.
Baikoko was first seen in the Kisosora area of Tanga town and performed by a group called Bazoka. In town now the instrumentation stayed the same but changed their face being adapted to materials available in the city. Thus the drums are now made from plastic drainage pipes of varying sizes, the maboya from buoys otherwise used in to guide ships, the rattles are made from empty tins. It has been suggested that the name Baikoko derives from the fact that the was first seen in the Kisosora area of Tanga—kind of in the dark, close to the sea and the ‘mikoko’ (mangrove forests). However, the name really derives from the final song of mdindiko performances: Koko is the Digo equivalent to kokwa, the kernel of a fruit, the last thing to be eaten, bai translates as basi, the end, the final thing.
Dogo Dogo Stars members originate from villages around Pangarawe in Tanga area. They moved to Tanga and became a member of Bazoka in the late 1990s. However, the group soon split as rivalries developed among the singers and they went on to form Channel O with some of the current members, including Kwini, the unrivalled queen of the slow Baikoko grind. Channel O went on to win a number of Baikoko contests organized in Tanga town in the early 2000s. In Ramadhan of 2009 one of the singers came to stay with his brother in Dar es Salaam, as no music is performed throughout the month of fasting. He intended to work and make some extra money before moving back to Tanga for the Idd holidays. One day he saw a discarded plastic pipe on a rubbish dump and had the idea to start a Baikoko group right in Dar once the month of Ramadhan ended. His brother helped him to get some more of the need pipes and to bring in some musicians from his former band in Tanga. Baikoko took the Magomeni area of Dar es Salaam by storm and Dogo Dogo Stars soon had more gigs than available days in the week. The success also created some problems among its members and the group soon started to split up into many branches as individual members where lured away to start their own groups. Thus Baikoko is currently played and danced by many groups in Dar es Salaam and has moved on to gain new fans in Zanzibar and Mombasa. After several name changes to reflect the changes in personnel Dogo Dogo Stars now call themselves Kaya Baikoko. They are the originals, featuring baikoko queen Naima Rajabu “Kwini”, master drummer Ayubu Mussa and Omari Mwachanjago as lead singer.
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