The Watafiti Group is an initiative which dates back to the 1980s. When musicians of the Iringa based TX Seleleka Orchestra met with a local Mhehe musician from Ilula. With his box guitar with one or two strings missing, the session did not yet produce the first Tanzanian fusion composition.
The try-out did inspire later a pop song by TX Seleleka with Kihehe lyrics, in fact quite adventurous with all popular music composed in Kiswahili (sometimes mixed with some Lingala) during those days.
HIV was the killer disease in Iringa early 1980s and text for the song is a reminder of those dramatic times. (first Watafiti Song).
After this cautious first try-out, a small fund was secured to work with selected musicians every Saturday and compose a number of pop songs based on traditional ethnic music. The first Watafiti Project was started and completed with a cd called “Umoja” in 1990.
Several Watafiti Projects followed and the list of participating “Watafiti” (Researchers in English) grew over the years.
Making a living as a performing artist in Tanzania is a challenge only few can manage. Many “Watafiti” will probably not have been able to fully develop their artistic talents due to economic limitations. But there is always the traditional “utamaduni” to accommodate creativity in times when funding for culture is limited.