chapter  8
Women at the Centre of a Music Complex
Pages 6

The use of performance as an expression of competition and rivalry is not exclusive to taarab: we have seen, for example, that forms such as beni and lelemama were competitive and that there is rivalry today between rap crews. Furthermore, such expression is not exclusive to women – male-dominated orchestral groups have formed and re-formed in alliance and opposition to each other throughout the course of the twentieth century. However, the development of the mpasho phenomenon within taarab that takes rivalry to the limits of social acceptability in Zanzibar and, for many, far beyond those limits, takes place within the female sphere as they use it to publicly air values and play out disputes ‘which are otherwise not possible to express’ (Beez and Kolbusa 2003:52). The situating of women in Zanzibari society within the realms of nature and domesticity is challenged, therefore: women have developed an expression of Zanzibari culture that is played out in public.