Mashikolo Mageni (@Mashikolo1) is a dance duo out of Dar Es Salem, Tanzania. They are childhood friends, who have a love and passion for dance. At 21 years old the duo has developed their own unique style that incorporates elements of the various urban Afro styles happening across the continent. Energy, speed, precision, synchronization, and fast combinations in a short time characterize their style. They have performed for some of Tanzanian's biggest artists such as Wini (@Wini_tz), MJ (@msamibaby), DJ Sinyorita (@djsinyorita), Kiki Ni Gigy (@gigy_money_og), Totobad (@Marioo_tz), Ommy Dimpoz (@ommydimpoz) and Amber (@Iamamberlulu) to name few. Most recently they performed for South African artist Shomadjozi (@Shomadjozi) during her Tanzanian tour.
Mashikolo continues to push to realize their dream of being internationally recognized dancers despite the many hardships they face as dancers in Tanzania. Throughout the continent, we hear the common criticism that dance is not recognized as a profession. For a continent with so much dance, we certainly hope that these perceptions of dance will change. That change will only come with consistent reinforcement of the positive impact of dance.
We connect with the Tanzanian duo to learn more about them and their dance.
1. AFROCONEX: Mashikolo, thank you for collaborating with AfroConex. Can you tell us who is Mashikolo Mageni and what does the name mean?
MASHIKOLO: Mashikolo is a tribal name, which originates from the Sukuma tribe, from the northern part of Tanzania. We selected this name because it represents our dance style. The direct translation is: new things.
So our group name is Mashikolo Mageni, but people also know us by our nick names. I am Mohammed, and I’m known by the nick name: Lolo baizo (@lolo_baizo) My group mate’s name is Elly, but goes by the nick name: Badman Elly (@badman_elly)
2. AFROCONEX: What inspired Mashikolo to start dancing ?
MASHIKOLO: We started dancing together since we were kids. First it started by us playing around as kids, but we realized that dance is something we really love and that it is in our blood. So we decided to dedicate ourselves to dance, even though there are many challenges to being a dancer in our country. We have been dancing together now for about 10 years.
3. AFROCONEX: We first discovered Mashikolo some 2 years ago, and have watched the development of your style. What drew our attention was the speed, precision and footwork combinations in your dance. Can you give us some insights into how you developed your dance?
MASHIKOLO: Yes, we developed our own style, and we are still developing. We learn more and more everyday what works for us. We like to do a lot of things in a short amount of time when we dance. When you watch our videos you see that we play/dance very fast and do many great things in a very short time. We like to also do fast footwork and combinations. Our dance is Mashikolo (new things) and our motivation today comes from the many dancers around the world who show us support and encourage us to continue with dance. In fact our style is unique, we developed it on our own, and do not copy other people’s dance style.
4. AFROCONEX: What are the styles that are most popular in Dar Es Salem ?
MASHIKOLO: The most popular dance styles in dar es salaam is Afropop dance styles, and of course we mix in dances that go with our Bongo Flava sounds.
5. AFROCONEX: Interesting, are there specific moves and dances done for Bongo Flava music ?
MASHIKOLO: Yes we have our Tanzanian dance styles like Kiduku, Mabawa, Kibega, Mangu Mangu and so many more.
6. AFROCONEX: In Dar Es Salem, where do dancers go to share their dance ? Are there battles ? How is the dance culture promoted ?
MASHIKOLO: We used to have dance battles back in the day but for now there are no battles. There are some places where dancers meet like NAFASI ART SPACE and some dancers offer dance classes sometimes. However I can’t say we have enough platforms that promote our dance and dancers.
7. AFROCONEX: Besides Bongo Flava music, what other styles of music is popular in Dar es Salem?
MASHIKOLO: We have a new style and it's very original. It originated from our culture and has the sound and rhythm of our traditional music. The style is called SINGELI. Some other popular sounds are Nigerian sounds, and central Africa (Congo) like Ndombolo etc
8. AFROCONEX: Tell us a little about the community you are from? Is dance a strong part of the community ?
MASHIKOLO: In Dar es Salaam we have three known districts--Temeke, ilala, Kinondoni. We are from ilala and this a place that is know for raising the best talents. ilala, is kind of like we are living in low life style, no money and life is a little bit hard this side. But that makes us push harder to achieve our dreams. In general we can’t say dance is a strong part of the community in ilala, although we have many dancers in the community. The issue is our family doesn’t trust that with dance you can make money. It is not until you are famous and having money that they will trust you. So for those who are starting out, people don’t believe that they can achieve their dreams. For us, we take it as a challenge and it doesn’t lower our dreams.
9. AFROCONEX: What are some of the challenges you face as dancers ?
MASHIKOLO: We are facing so many challenges, for now we don’t have a good place to practice, no equipments, and no money to finance our projects etc
Mashikolo Mageni shared videos of their rehearsals. They practice daily perfecting their style and flow.