New Tanzania’s Bongo flava song released to promote the importance of marine cultural heritage

A new Bongo Flava theme song for the promotion of Marine Cultural Heritage by popular Tanzanian rapper Chemical, in collaboration with Dr. Elgidius Ichumbaki, Associate Professor in the Department of Archaeology & Heritage Studies at the University of Dar es Salaam, has been released!

The song titled “Bahari Yetu” (Our Oceans) innovatively outlined the importance of Marine Cultural Heritage and its relationship with the challenges currently facing Tanzanian coastal communities.

The Bongo Flava (a popular East Africa music genre) piece is sung in Kiswahili with English subtitles. It is widely played in Swahili radio stations and television channels in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda. Its composition and production were supported within the context of the Rising from the Depths Network, where UNESCO is a partner under the 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage. The song builds on two research projects funded by the Rising from the Depths Network –   “Bahari Yetu, Urithi Wetu” in Bagamoyo and “The Kisima Project” on Kilwa Kisiwani – as well as the “Digitizing Cultural Heritage for Sustainable Preservation and Development in Tanzania” funded by Scottish Funding Council GCRF.

UNESCO appreciates the partnership formed with the Rising from the Depths Network, which aims to fill knowledge gaps, and ensure that the important role Marine and Underwater Cultural Heritage plays in long term sustainability is appreciated, and delivers impacts across primary stakeholder groups including local communities, industry and policy
Mrs. Ann Therese Ndong-Jatta, Director and Representative, UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa

This music genre presents a unique and effective way of sharing important information resulting from ongoing research projects to the broader public whose access to academic publication is limited. The projects aim to compose, record, produce and distribute music and videos that will raise awareness of stakeholders of the benefits and challenges, and popularizing the values of Marine Cultural Heritage in eastern Africa.

The Rising from the Depths Network supports the communication of the significance of Marine Cultural Heritage from the grassroots, through working directly with local groups to effect community-level change, while at the same time engaging at the national government and international level through the development of relevant laws and policies. Despite COVID-19 restrictions, RftD Network is funding 29 projects in the east Africa region.  

The Network’s aims are in line with UNESCO’s 2001 Convention that encourages States Parties to promote information sharing and public awareness-raising concerning the significance of underwater cultural heritage. The Convention further enables States to better identify, research and protect their underwater cultural heritage for preservation and sustainability for present and future generations.