Mzungu Kichaa - artist, ethnomusicologist and producer

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Living a multi-cultural life is something most people in the world dream about but live to never ever achieve that. Danish born Espen Sorensen had the rare opportunity of growing up in Africa as a young boy. He spent a lot of his formative years in Zambia and ended up in Tanzania in the nineteen nineties - a time when Bongo Flava was just starting to gain popularity there. He learnt Swahili which he speaks fluently and fell in love with the music of Tanzania. After paying his dues, he linked up with Bongo Records; the pioneers of Tanzanian urban music to start recording songs in Swahili.

It was during that time at Bongo Records in Dar es Salaam Tanzania that he met up with the big names of Bongo such as Juma Nature, Solo Thang, Professa Jay and many more. He was writing and singing in Kiswahili, he was so good that his fellow artists were blown away to see a European conversing well in a local African language so the nick named him Mzungu Kichaa meaning Crazy White Man. One of his songs ‘Mambo ya Pwani’ made it to the top of the charts in 2001 making him a house hold name in Tanzania. He added a few more hits to his belt before leaving for studies in the UK.

Mzungu Kichaa kept that name as his artist identity even after he went to the UK to pursue an Ethnomusicology degree and Masters in African Studies. Years later, a grown up Mzungu Kichaa is the CEO of his own company Caravan Records which specializes in hip-hip, reggae and African music. The name Caravan Records comes from an idea he had of having a mobile studio and traveling in a caravan. His nomadic tendency comes from spending a lot of time with the Masaai in Tanzania. The best way describe his organization is: Rooted, Responsible, Revolutionary, Reactionary and Ready.

Caravan Records was set up to help promote East African music abroad through international distribution, marketing and promotion. It’s important to note that Caravan Records does not spoon feed artists, but promotes the aspect of self-innovation by artists. Artists need to acquaint themselves about every aspect of their industry and take the foremost interest to promote their work. Generally, artists are ignorant to the industry and end up being the biggest losers. That said - Mzungu Kichaa believes that the biggest global issue facing the world today is the lack of universal access to education.

With further funding, Mzungu Kichaa would set up a recording project that involves people from different countries, social backgrounds and cultures. This process would bring people together, open up new doors, and create cross- cultural awareness for both for the musicians and listeners involved. His advice for others is – “Change does not come over night. Sustainability is crucial and it is important to act with a sense of responsibility within the music industry to secure that the efforts one puts into a project. For any change to occur, people must be mobilized and ready to participate in the process.”

article submitted by:Espen Sørensen, Caravan Records