With the success of twenty to thirty something artists in Tanzania, it is easy to forget that even before Bongo Flava or YouTube and, even the Internet for that matter – Mzee Kipara was there. When we went to film Bongoland II in Dar, the casting director – Gervas Kasiga told me that he found a perfect old man to play the imam in the movie. He then said – once you hear his voice you will know who he is. And, sure enough, once I heard him I recognized his voice immediately. Mzee Kipara is a veteran actor who worked for Radio Tanzania for many years. He was part of the talented cast that was heard weekly in thrilling radio drama productions.

As a kid growing up in Bukoba, the radio reception was never clear, and so sometimes all we could hear were pieces of an argument between two characters and the unmistakable deep voice of Mzee Kipara in most cases playing an elder, a teacher, or a grandfather.

 

I was looking forward to meeting Mzee Kipara, and the casting was to take place at the University of Dar. We arrived there a bit late due to “foleni” – traffic jam…and ,no, it was NOT rush hour. Mzee Kipara was already waiting, so I went straight to talk to him. It was a hot day and Mzee Kipara was sitting by a wall smoking his unfiltered cigarette. I stretched my hand to greet him, he shook it and looked at me for a second, took a puff of his cigarette, and said “marhaba bwana”….hello. He asked if I was one of the people having the cast call. When I said yes, He said “You are late…you will make me late for my afternoon prayers at the mosque.” I apologized, and we moved into a room and started the casting process.

Gervas had already briefed him about the character and so he started asking me several questions. Then he asked about the characters playing opposite him. I told him about “Juma”…and he asked me to get Juma and started. Before Juma could start, he started quizzing him and telling him how to deliver his lines, what mood he should be in, and what facial expression he should have. Then they started acting out a scene.

 

 

 

I told Gervas immediately, “We have the imam!” Just right then, I knew we had a star amongst us. Mzee Kipara not only brought the aura of stardom, but he was extremely helpful. Most of the actors would listen to what he had to say and follow it, even if it was contrary to what I was saying. Most of them would tell me he has been around he knows what he is talking about. There was no argument from me.

 

Mzee Kipara is now retired, but he is still very active in the acting community. He does some radio occasionally and some acting in various locally produced movies. He told me that he has been “there” since day one. By this he was referring that he was part of the cast of one of the oldest film ever produced in Tanzania called “Fimbo Ya Mnyonge” in the late sixties. I could immediately detect a sense of pride as his face came alive with an authoritative glare.
In Bongoland II, Mzee Kipara performed beyond our expectations. His timing was perfect and he even added some spice to the scenes. We were extremely privileged to have him in this movie.

 

As I was looking at the pictures from various blogs covering the final farewell of the late Mzee Kaduma (Another Tanzanian acting veteran), I was struck by how little I knew about Mzee Kaduma. I was not sure if this was because of lack of coverage of such actors by the local (Tanzanian) media or because of my being uninformed of what is going on in the Tanzanian acting community. Either way, we need to be proud of our veteran actors and be very proactive in documenting their success and share them with the whole world.

As we completed the end of the shoot, Mzee Kipara thanked all of us and lit another cigarette. As he walked off the set, he was immediately surrounded by onlookers, some of who started shouting his name. Politely, he stopped and greeted them.

When the movie comes out, I think you will agree with us that Mzee Kipara is one of the best actors Tanzania has. We are very proud to introduce him to the rest of the world.

Mzee Kipara’s real name: FUNDI SAIDI

BIRTHDATE AND PLACE: 1922, BONGONI-TABORA

The story and the photos courtesy of Kibira Films. All photos were taken at the set of Kibira Films’ upcoming movie Bongoland II.

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10 Responses to “MZEE KIPARA-TANZANIA’S ACTING ICON”

  1. Comment by Dinah on October 31st, 2007 2:45 pm

    Mzee Kipara ni mtu muhimu sana ktk sanaa ya maigizo na filamu ndani ya Bongo. Mzee huyu huicheza vizuri sana sehemu yake (wasifu) ukijumlisha na sauti yake basi ni raha tupu.

    Watu kama hawa ndio wanatakiwa kuenziwa na ikiwezekana majina yao yatumike kwenye tuzo mbali-mbali za uigizaji Tanzania……Hivi kuna Tuzo za Filamu Tanzania?

    Ikiwepo watu kama Mzee Kipara, Mzee Jongo na wale wengine wanatakiwa kupewa Tuzo maalumu kwa uwepo wao ktk fani hii kabla ya Bongo flava even Luninga.

    Nakutakia kila la kheri ktk shughuli zako, afya njema na amani ktk maisha yako.

  2. Comment by msema kweli on October 31st, 2007 3:08 pm

    Hii ni kweli kabisa. Bongo tunaandika tu kuhusu want wa Bongo Flava lakini kusema kweli bila hawa wazee hii fani insingekuwapo zamani. Tunakushukuru Kibira maana utawezesha hawa wazee waenzishwe. Kama inavyostahili.

  3. Comment by colin on November 1st, 2007 2:25 am

    He is clint eastwood wa bongo

  4. Comment by hombiz on November 1st, 2007 4:20 pm

    Kwakweli bwana Kibira umefanya jambo la maana sana kumuenzi mzee huyu. Natumaini juhudi zako zitasaidia sana kupambana na utamaduni wa selikali zetu mbovu za kiafrika (especially Tanzania) kwa kutowajali na kuwatupa wasanii wa fani mbali mbali ambao walitoa ama wanatoa mchango mkubwa ktk kuitangaza Tanzania kitaifa na kimataifa. Mbali na kuitangaza nchi yetu, wasaniii hawa pia kama kioo cha jamii wanasaidia sana kuilea, kukosoa, kuonya, kuelimisha na kurekebisha jamii kuhusiana na maswala mbali mbali kama vile kero ya rushwa iliyokithili, maradhi ya ukimwi, kuacha ugoigoi na kuishi kwa kuchapa kazi, kupendana, kushirikiana, na kusaidiana kwa hali na mali ili tuweze kupiga hatua za kimaendeleo. Sasa basi, mimi naamini kabisa ni jukumu letu sote kuwaenzi wasanii wetu ambao ni kioo cha jamii. Sielewi kwa nini serikali inashindwa kuwaenzi watu muhimu kama hawa ili wafaidi matunda ya vipaji vyao kama zinavyofanya nchi nyingine mithili ya nchi ya Marekani na Uingereza. Mimi binafsi nilipata na uchungu sana niliposoma kwenye moja ya magazeti juu ya kuugua na hatimaye kifo cha mzee Morris Nyunyusa. Mzee huyu ni lulu ya Tanzania!. Iweje basi wakati wa siku za mwisho za uhai wake alipata tabu sana ya kupata huduma za afya kutokana na kutokuwa na uwezo wa kifedha?. Serikali ilikuwa wapi kumsaidia mzee huyu wakati wa kipindi hicho kigumu?. Jamani!, mnyonge mnyongeni lakini haki yake mpeni!. Ngoma zake mlizipenda a kuzicheza kila siku kabla ya Matangazo ya taarifa ya habari hapo Radio Tanzania Dar-es- salaam. Sasa iweje alipostaafu maisha ya kisanii Serikali ilishindwa kuuujali mchango wake ktk kukuza utamaduni wa Taifa la Tanzania?. Hapo ndipo mimi ninapoona kuwa upendo wa Serikali kwa wasanii wa Tanzania ni wa kinafiki. Upendo huu ni sawa na simba kusakata dansi na swala. Wakati umefika sasa wa kuamka na kuwaenzi wasanii wetu kwa kazi yao nzuri wanayoinfanya kwa Tanzania.
    Sipendi kabisa kuona Mzee Kipara anatupwa kama alivyotupwa mzee Morris Nyunyusa. Serikali Hebu “FANYA KITU KUWAENZI WAZEE HAWA”! DO SOMETHING!

  5. Comment by fidelis m tungaraza on November 2nd, 2007 10:30 am

    Kuna kipindi tamthilya ilikuwa ya hali ya juu sana Tanzania. Uigizaji wa majukwaani kadhalika redioni ulikuwa wa hali ya juu sana. Redioni kulikuwa na michezo mizuri sana ya kuigiza kama Pwagu na Pwaguzi, ilikuwepo michez ya kina Jangala na Mzee Jongo, Mchezo wa Redio wa Ijumaa usiku na Jumamosi adhuhuri. Nikikumbuka mchezo mmoja uliokuwa maarufu sana Penzi Kitovu cha Uzembe wa Mwalimu Semzaba. Mchezo huu baadhi ya wahusika walikuwemo Ngoswe Ngengemkeni Mitomingi na darling wake Mazoea. Nani alikuwa Ngoswe? Tuendelee, kipindi hiki cha kina Mzee Kipara, Mzee jongo, Mzee Ali Keto na wengineo maigizo redioni yalikuwa ya hali ya juu sana.

    Sambamba na tamthiliya redioni palikuwa na waigizaji wa majukwaani. Kulikuwa na vikundi mbali mbali vya maigizo kuanzia kikundi cha Taifa ambacho waigizaji wake wengi walikuja kuwa walimu chuoni bagamoyo, palikuwepo na Kikundi cha Chuo Kikuu, na Paukwa, vikundi vya JKT na JWTZ na vikundi vya mashirika na makampuni ya umma kama vilie Tanganyika Packers ambacho kilikuja kuanzisha DDC Kibisa. Kikundi cha Kiwanda cha Bia kile cha kina Mazoea na Yahaya, Sayari na vinginevyo. Waigizaji wa majukwaani wa wakati ule walikuwa wengi sana tena siyo waigizaji wa vipaji tu hata waigizaji wa kitaaluma wakiwemo wengi ambao hivi leo wameingia kwenye shughuli zingine zaidi ya uigizaji. Kwa kumbukumbu za haraka haraka miongoni mwao ni kina Marehemu Fundi Raymond (YombaYomba), Ndugu Majuto, Marehemu Omar Naliene, kina saba unusu, Waziri Mkuu wetu wa sasa Ndugu Edward Lowassa na Naibu waziri wa Sheria Ndugu Mathias Chikawe, aliyekuwa Mkurugenzi wa Utamaduni Marehemu Godwin Kaduma. Aliyekuwa mkuu wa bodi ya taaluma chuo kikuu cha Dar es Salaamu Mama Penina Muhando, Mkuu wa Idara ya Sanaa chuo kikuu cha Dar es Salaam Bi Amandina Lihamba. CEO wa Zanzibar International Film Festival Ndugu Martin Mhando, Ndugu Adam Lusekelo, ndugu Ibrahim Ngozi , ndugu Mbwana, Dkt Mbogo, Nasibu Mwanukuzi, George Chioko, Freddy Macha, Chiku Ally, na wengineo wengi ambao siwakumbuki sasa hivi.

    Tulikuwa na waaandishi wa tamthimliya wa kuheshimika kitaifa na kimataifa miongoni mwao ni Mwalimu Ibrahim Hussein aliyeandika tamthiliya za Wakati Ukuta, Mashetani, Kinjeketile, Harusi, na Alikiona. Pia kina mama Muhando-Mlama aliyeandika tamthiliya kama Lina Ubani, Pambo, Haki na zinginezo. Ibrahim Ngozi aliyeandika Ushuhuda wa Mifupa, Mwalimu Semzaba aliyandika Panzi Kitovu cha Uzembe, Tende Hogo na zinginezo. Mwalimu Lihamba alitafsiri Hawala ya Fedha. Mwalimu Rashid Masimbi aliyetunga tamthiliya za Mwenyewe kalala, Kifo cha Mnazi, mtema lugodi na zinginezo.

    Ninachotaka kusema ni kwamba misingi ya uigizaji ipo. Vijana kama wanataka kutengeneza sinema wanaweza kutengeneza sinema nzuri chini ya misingi ya hawa waigizaji waliotangulia na kutokea katika tamthiliya hizi zilizoandikwa. Kwa kufanya hivyo wataweza kutengeneza sinema nzuri sana na zenye hadithi nzuri sana ambazo zinaweza kuwa katika hadhi ya kimataifa.

    Uigizaji ni fani na taaluma. Kwa hiyo ni jambo linalohitaji umakini wa hali ya juu sana. Yeyote yule anayetaka kuwa mwana tamthiliya aidha kwa kuwa mwandishi au muigizaji anapaswa kuwa na jicho na sikio la tatu. Masikio na macho yetu mawili ya kawaida na ya tatu ya kuonea na kuzikilizia zaidi. Tamthilya kama fani zingine za sanaa zimeingiliwa na zinafujwa ama kwa makusudi au kwa kutojua. Hii ni hatari.

    Nakumbuka nilipata kuongea na msanii mmoja mkongwe wa Tanzania akaniambia “..wakati ule tatizo lilikuwa ni kupata vyombo. Siku hizi tatizo ni kupata wasanii..”

    Asante sana kwa kutuletea Mzee Kipara tafadhali kama ukiweza tuletee pia kina Mzee Ali Keto, Khamis Shehe, Ali Mtoto Sefu na wengineo.

    Weekend njema. Ni mimi maridhiya,

    F MtiMkubwa Tungaraza.

  6. Comment by kihiga jr. on November 3rd, 2007 8:07 am

    he is simply the best,thr is no doubt.kila la kheri mzee kipara………….!!!!!!

  7. Comment by Kibira on December 21st, 2007 10:10 am

    Bwana Tungaraza ahsante sana.

    Ni kweli kabisa unayosema. Tulipomwona mzee Kipara sisi tulishangaa maana alikuwa anafikiri labda hatapata hii kazi, lakini tukamwambia hakuna shaka wewe hata hauhitaji ku-audition. Lakini hali yake ilikuwa ndo hivyo. Unaona kuwa kweli amechoka hata nauli shida.

    Sasa kuhusu serikali…ni kweli lakini fani ya kuigiza imeshikiliwa na private sector kwa sasa na kwa kweli kuiachia sector ifanye kazi ni vizuri si vema serikali kuingiza mkono wake mrefu. La kufanya Serikali ingeipa priority kubwa michezo ya kuigiza kama ilivyoipa national stadium.

    Ukienda katika nchi zilizoendelea mojawapo ya vivutio vya miji ni majumba ya sanaa, michezo ya kuigiza na sinema. Lakini kama hakuna shule za kuelimisha watu sanaa ni nini na umuhimu wake, basi vizazi vyetu vingi vitakuwa vikifikiri utamaduni wa Tanzania ulianzia kwenye Bongo Flava maana private sector ndio inasukuma kwenye masoko.

    Labda pia sector ya private nayo ifanye juu chini kuwatafuta hao vikongwe na kuwahusisha kikamilifu katika miradi mipya…kama tulivyofanya kwa mzee Kipara.

    Serikali itengeneze njia za kuwaenzi hawa watu…labda tuzo maalumu kila mwaka, labda majengo ya kuchezea michezo, labda majumba ya sinema, labda shule za kufundisha fani kama hizo.

    Katika sinema yetu ijayo Bongoland II, itabainika wazi kuwa hapana shaka kuwa nyumbani kuna wasanii wa hali ya juu sana. Labda hii itawapa changamoto wafanya biashara wa binafsi na serikali kuanza kufikiria jinsi ya kuinua fani hizi!

  8. Comment by CLEOPHACE Beatus on December 18th, 2009 1:22 pm

    Nimefurahishwa sana na tamthiliya hii, nawaombea mzidi kujitahidi ili muweze kuutoa mchezo huo.Naamini kuwa watanzania wengi tutawaunga mkono katka hili.

  9. Comment by Josephine on March 28th, 2010 11:05 am

    Nimefurahishwa sana kupata habari za Mzee Upara kwa kweli nampongeza sanasana. Watanzania wote tuna deni kwake. Tumeburudioka miaka nenda rudi. Serekali ituongoze kuwaenzi wazee hawa. Kuna na yule Mzee aliyeimba Wanawake Tanzania. Hivi kweli mtu akiandaa sherehe fulani ya kuwaenzi wazee kama hawa nina hakika wanweza kupoata xcha kufutia machozi. Nina imani wengi wangependa kufanya kitu fulani lakini hawajui pa kuanzia.

  10. Comment by papi john on September 29th, 2011 6:15 am

    i used to see mzee kipara on the street as that where he was staying , for you young bucks that was on 70’s, and i was still in school, from ilala primary school and azania secondary scholl,on those time there was no tv, just radio so we ussually stayed by the radio when it was comedy day , i think was friday.t.that was in utete street and he was staying at lindi street before you get to morogoro str Just fresh from sailing, , i was seaman , that time, so back fresh Tz,one evening i was hanging out at one pub[joint] at kilwa street, sipping some ndovu, with some ladies older than me, an he was there, so after we left from there we went to the one of lady house, at lindi snd utete corner house, just chilling driking some good Tz beer, remember i was fresh ,in that time u can chillout at your porch[ baraza] nobody bother u, it was quite night,[ the population of the ilala was low] around 12.30night here came mzee kipara,at the porch we where i was with the ladies, [ we close to each other],he came to me and said ‘unajua kijana maji mazito utayaweza?’ quote. ‘ hamna tabu ‘ i reply.he stayed with us for a little while then he left. he knwe the ladies one from tabora and one was from singida. He just couldn’t figure what this young cat doing with older ladies. That was word to word with mzee kipara , always he taked in mafumbo[ artisanity]

    papi joh ,dallas texas

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