Mzungu Kichaa
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Mzungu Kichaa

Dar es Salaam, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania | Established. Jan 01, 2009 | SELF

Dar es Salaam, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania | SELF
Established on Jan, 2009
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This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Mzungu Kichaa shares his passion for rap, social issues, reggae, and Kiswahili"

Mzungu Kichaa is an artist who raps about social issues in Kiswahili. This feat would not seem unique, except that he is Danish and has lived in Tanzania since he was fifteen years-old. His passion for the music and his love for the country is not lost on his fans who show up in throngs to jump to his latest beats.

Mzungu Kichaa
Mzungu Kichaa

Jamati Online caught up with him to find out more about what makes him tick.

Jamati Online: How did you end up performing music in Tanzania?
I grew up in Zambia listening to the likes of Kanda Bongo Man, Bundu Boys and Thomas Mapfumo. When I moved to Tanzania with my parents as a 15 year old, I really started developing a love for the local music scene and started to fuse the sounds of Jimi Hendrix with the local sounds, which were dominated by Congolese music at the time. As time passed, in around 96, there were a group of youth, who started experimenting with hiphop. I got involved and since then I have been part of this scene. My big breakthrough was when I recorded and produced Mambo ya Pwani with Solo Thang in Bongo Records. I also appeared on a couple of other tracks such as ‘Mangwaire’s Girl’, ‘She Gata Gwan’ and some of Juma Nature’s songs. But it was only in 2009 when I recorded ‘Jitolee‘ ft. Professor Jay and Mwasiti, which later became part of my Kiswahili album, ‘Tuko Pamoja‘, that things really started to take shape.

Jamati Online: You perform in Kiswahili. What was the reason for choosing to do so?
I chose to release my debut album in Kiswahili, even though I also compose many songs in English, because, I wanted to show my skills and knowledge of the Tanzanian scene by creating something unique that represented my history and involvement with Tanzanian music. I also decided not to be driven by commercial factors. I had no expectations of the album in terms of success or sales. I wasn’t concerned about any of that, I just wanted to create. Thankfully the album has been very well received the world over which shows that it pays to follow your heart and do what you want to do and not what the industry expects you to do.

Jamati Online: How would you describe the music scene in Tanzania? Do you think it has a good chance of being popular in the western world?
The Tanzanian scene is very vibrant. I think that with the right management and direction Tanzanian music can definitely go very far in the western world. This is what I am trying to influence through my label, Caravan Records and through my music in general. It has to be unique and at the same time be of high quality.

Jamati Online: Tell us about your latest projects.
I have done a big tune with Juma Nature and Karen Mukupa. I am sure you all know Juma Nature, but Karen Mukupa is a very respected artist from Denmark. She is originally Zambian but also grew up in Tanzania. Her love for Tanzania and Tanzanian music is one of the main reasons she agreed to join us on this track, which is called ‘Together as One’. Its an anthem for the new year which calls for unity. I believe it has a very powerful message. I am also working on my second album which will be broader than the first one and will include, reggae, old school rumba and also some English songs. One of the songs is called ‘Nairobi’, which is a very conscious track.

Jamati Online: How have you and your music been received in Africa overall, and abroad? Do other African countries play your music often?
I would say that my music has been received well overall. At my concerts in Europe you see a big mix of African from all over the continent mixed with a very international mix of Europeans. At these concerts, 80% of my songs are in Kiswahili, but the audience still responds very well. At the end of the day music is a universal language and most people can feel you even if they don’t necessarily understand what you are saying. If the music has energy and power, people will respond. I know that I have fans in Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Angola and South Africa. This year I will perform in South Africa which I am really looking forward to. But I also want to spend more time in Kenya and perform and collaborate with artists here.

Mzungu Kichaa is performing in Nairobi at the Goethe Institute on January 28, 2011. For those who are unable to watch him in concert, you can keep up with his schedule, music, and projects through Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, and ReverbNation. - Jamati

"Mzungu Kichaa - Bongo Fleva's Adopted Son"

Espen Sorensen, better known as Mzungu Kichaa (the ‘crazy white man’) has spent time living in Copenhagen, Dar es Salaam and London. He embodies a blend of these various places that has resulted in him becoming what he is today: one of the pioneers of East Africa's most popular fusion of traditional music and Hip Hop - Bongo Fleva. Not only does he unite very diverse places in his person but he also speaks each of the respective languages fluently.

Mzungu Kichaa
© Mzungu Kichaa
‘Ukiwa na uwezo siyo lazima uwe kichaa’ (‘no need to be crazy if you can do it’) says Kichaa in the track Oya Oya, and he is right with his self-assessment. He has proven he can indeed do 'it' and has been for quite a while. Laying the foundations to his success with degrees in Ethnomusicology and African Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, Kichaa has climbed high up the ladder of Tanzanian artists since his beginnings in the music industry. His first album, Tuko Pamoja was released in 2009, and was followed up by a tour of several East African and European concert venues and festivals. He is an advocate of Tanzania's contemporary music scene and aims to make Bongo Fleva known across Tanzania's borders as he considers it music that ‘can open our minds and expand our horizons.’

Mzungu Kichaa
Mzungu Kichaa
Kichaa writes his songs in Kiswahili, the lingua franca of East Africa, and Tanzania's official language (the only African country with a non-colonial language as their first recognized means of communication). The pride connected to the use of the language is reinstated throughout Kichaa’s music, as his Swahili rhymes flow as perfectly as any native's. By speaking another language, you also enter a different weltansicht: another view of the world. Kichaa has managed to do exactly that, to take on a perspective that reflects the experiences, struggles and happiness of a different culture by describing and singing about it in its own language, its unique means of expression. His songs are made for dancing, going straight into your bones letting you not only hear but also feel what he is speaking about, in case you may not be fluent in Swahili like him. His message: the quest for an end to any kind of inequality, and the need for staying pamoja (together) in this world. His lyrics are critical and thought provoking, contesting generalized and non-reflective images of what is happening in the world. "Maendeleo hayana muelekeo" he tells us in Jitolee, that development does not have a linear direction and with that deconstructing the common use and universalized and somewhat westernized evolutionary, understanding of the development concept that until now has mostly led people nowhere.
Mzungu Kichaa
Mzungu Kichaa
As a caucasian male in his early 30s making Tanzanian music, Kichaa’s heritage is probably one of the most obvious things one could be confused about when his lyrics are in Swahili, however most of the other artists he is surrounded by are natives from African countries. This implies no contradiction as his efforts show what is truly essential to making music. Neither the colour of your skin nor the country you were born in are relevant. Transporting messages that are not rooted in or bound to a particular space, but that could stem from everywhere and that put an emphasis on respecting each other and building on our common humanity - free of locality. Kichaa creates a concept of belonging that revolves around belonging to people, to your friends and loved ones, and not to some narrow concept of nationality. Belonging as a feeling and not as an obvious and logical rationality is what his music and his alias represent.
Mzungu Kichaa
Mzungu Kichaa
A different approach to building bridges between those often displayed as ‘the others’ and those who appoint themselves the role of deciding who that is. Kichaa has freed himself of assumptions that dictate the game, sticking to his own rules but relying on common principles of living together in peace and with respect - regardless of any defining factors such as ethnicity, gender or age. Kichaa might be suggesting an alternative approach to eliminating persisting walls between people due to the categories mentioned above. He does not do that dressed up as one of the all-knowing development organizations, but simply with his personality and skills. This individual approach to creating unity and eliminating boundaries between people seems to work. The Tanzanian music scene has embraced and acknowledged him as one of their own - something that does not often happen towards ‘crazy white men’.
By Franziska Maria Fay. - Culture Trip


Everybody talks about Mzungu Kichaa. A young white man making music in Kiswahili.

This morning I talked to Espen Sørensen, aka Mzungu Kichaa, after he finished checking the sound at the stage in the Old Fort, preparing himself for the concert tonight.

While waiting, a group of young, Tanzanian journalists explained to me what makes Mzungu Kichaa different: ‘He sings about life as it is. Not just about love stuff. He sings about normal things, so that the people in the streets understand and can relate to it.’

Another thing, which makes Espen, who is Danish by nationality, different, is that he sings in Kiswahili, and that he does it perfectly. In fact, the Tanzanians are amazed.

It is a big thing to be invited to perform at the Sauti za Busara, but Espen is relaxed.

‘I have a fantastic feeling. It is great to play in Zanzibar, because people know me here.’

A lot has happened since last year's Sauti za Busara, where Espen then gave a small concert at the Livingstone Beach Restaurant. The concert then unfortunately collided with the big name of last year’s Sauti za Busara, Natasha Atlas.

Tonight he has been given one of the best placements in the programme, right after South African Thandiswa. I ask him what is means to him to play at the Sauti za Busara:

‘This is a huge mile stone to me,’ he explains, and continues: ‘It is a big scene and here’s a lot of media attention.'

Espen has worked overtime since last year, and he has already created a lot of media hype in both Denmark and East Africa where he is promoting his music.

'There's a huge difference between Denmark and Tanzania. It is really hard to build up a career as a musician in Tanzania,' he says andd explains that in Denmark rules are rules, people keep the time, whereas it can all be bent in Tanzania. In Tanzanian it is also a bigger investment as it takes more money for i.e. equipment.
One of the things which has made a difference since last year was the release of the album 'Tuko Pamoja', and the 'Jitolee' music video which was shot in Kariakoo in Dar es Salaam. The video made it to the Top 10 on the Tanzanian music video charts, and raised Mzungu Kichaa's popularity in Tanzania significantly. - Louder than Swahili [13.02.2010]

"Their names are as uncommon as the event – a musical battle titled Benga versus Bongo – that brought them together."

Cultural exchange

Chizi had worked the crowd, could Mzungu Kichaa do the same with the Tanzanian bongo beat flavour? Bongo became popular in Tanzania over the last 10 years, whereas benga that has been there for decades.

But bongo, which derived from American hip hop, merged with native dance music (muziki wa densi), taarab and other genres, has made inroads in Kenya. And Mzungu Kichaa did not disappoint. He cut a hippie figure, clad in tight jeans and t-shirt, and sunglasses. His Kiswahili is fluent, his singing crisp. This alone gave him some mileage –– a mzungu singing in Kiswahili! The audience loved him.

That was not all. The ‘crazy whiteman’ can dance too, even going chini kwa chini at one point, to chide Chizi, who had earlier joked that Caucasians dance offbeat.

"After tonight, I hope he will not repeat that mistake," Kichaa said adding that the battle with Chizi was a dream come true.

"I saw him perform a year ago and thought it would be nice to share a stage with him," he said.

The concert was a brainchild of Buddha Blaze, with R-Kay under the umbrella of Ingoma Music, in what Chizi says is one of many lined up events—a kind of a cultural exchange. In Kiswahili, Mzungu Kichaa said he had taken a risk that paid off.

"I had not brought my band along, and it was my first time to play with the Wananchi Band that had practised my music. It was a great night and I will carry the memory with me back to Tanzania," he said.

"So who won?" Buddha posed this question. Both it seems, as screams of benga, bongo rent the air as the duo came together and sung the evergreen Sina Makosa – a duet that nearly brought the roof of the auditorium down.

It was an unforgettable performance, a crazy one, so to speak. - The Standard - By Kiundu Waweru [11.02.2011]


Tuko Pamoja CR20012009 (full studio album)

"jitolee" track 6 World Music From Denmark (Compilation)

"Safari" track 9 Sountrip East Africa (Compilation)

Hustle - EP CR0022012

Relax - EP CR0042014 (16th of May)



Mzungu Kichaa means the crazy white man. A name he received when he started singing and rapping in Tanzania in his late teens. In 2009 he debuted with his album Tuko Pamoja and became a massive success in East Africa. In 2011 Mzungu Kichaa joined the judges of the Tanzanian version of X factor, Bongo Star Search. This propelled his fame and took his career even further within the local market. Mzungu Kichaa tours regionally within the continent and tours Europe annually with his Tanzanian backing band Bongo Beat.

Band Members