2007 – 2008

A tough female rapper rises out of the streets of Dar Es Salaam and meets up with a male rapper from Norway with a dual cultural background. He is a Norwegian Grammy winner, she is a Coca Cola Popstars winner. They are joined by a multi instrumentalist and electronics wizzard, and the beats start flowing. Nedland Kultur creates the possibility for the trio to meet, create and record, and then sends them out to play concerts together.

Witness used to be one of the toughest ones, the only girl in an all male rap and hip hop commjunity in the streets of Dar Es Salam. Just before the start of the second millennium she met up with Sigbjørn Nedland of Nedland Kultur. She was hanging around Marimba studio, the recording studio in Dar Es Salaam started by Nedland Kultur and partners in 1998. A recording with the Mradi Band was ongoing, and she asked “Can I come in and watch?” She could, and when asked by Sigbjørn what she was doing, she told him “I’m a rapper”. He asked her to show what she could do, and was impressed enough to offer her (for free) a few studio days with a producer/engineer, during which she produced two songs. One of them got quite some radio play on local stations. From there she slowly started growing her carreer, and eventually joined the group Wakilisha, with whom she won the East Africa Coca Cola Popstars.

Cover poem by Sigbjørn Nedland, CD: “Khaya Khaya” –}

Nedland Kultur had a long time ambition of teaming up Witness with the Norwegian rap group Darkside of the Force from Kristiansand, the Norwegian town where Nedland Kultur is based. Salvador Sanchez and Morten Martens from the group were approached and asked to come to Tanzania to work with Witness. In September 2007 they were in Dar Es Salaam working in a small studio with Witness. Salvador, a norwegian rapper from a Chilean family, provided rhymes and lyrics, some prepared in an exchange of material beforehand, some created there and then. Morten was the main musician and programmer (although Salvador also did very creative programming work), and musicians playing traditional instruments and singing completed the line up: Anania Ngoriga, voice and kalimba and Bob Rudala, voice, percussion and guitar. A full CD was recorded, and in between recording sessions, the team was also making video shots in Zanzibar.

              Salvador                     Morten, Salvador & Anania in studio          Rudala & Anania                             Witness

The material recorded in Dar Es Salaam was mixed at the studios of NRK, the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation in Kristiansand, Norway, and the CD “Khaya Khaya” was released by the Norwegian record company MTG in the spring of 2008. The CD was well received by Norwegian critics, one of whom called Witness “an African Missy Elliott”. To follow up the release of the CD, Witness was invited to Norway to do a concert tour of Norwegian colleges with the full Darkside of the Force band. The tour was organised in collaboration with the Cultural Director of the Southern Region of Norway.