One week before the festivals began there were rehearsals for the people from Zanzibar that would be performing at the festival and they gave everyone a chance to go to the rehearsals. We attended one band called Culture Music Club Band rehearsals that the lead singer was 99yrs old. Bi Kidude, famous for her dulcet voice even at that age, she started singing Taarab music when she was a young girl and she is doing it till now.A documentary about her life was released in 2006 called “AS OLD AS MY TONGUE” talking about her life and music. Despite her age she till smokes, takes alcohol and sings.
I remember the harmonious voices from the other band members and how they danced in the sensual, waist breaking Swahili Unyago dancing style. After the practice they welcomed the audience to dance floor and this is the part that got everyone on their feet. You go and dance but you are allowed to give tips. The whole week we attended different rehearsals but this was the best.
At the beginning of the festival they held a parade around the city. It was awesome. There were different categories of people all wearing different costumes led by a band. They moved around the city and their final destination was Old Fort where the festivals were officially kick started.