To ensure that citizens can work together to solve issues, make government function for them, and have their opinions heard and treated seriously during decision-making, open civic space and inclusivity are crucial components. We have been lacking real discussion on a number of important problems in Tanzania for more than five years. There is barely any real analysis of issues following events, whether they be in politics and economics, current affairs, or climate justice.

Moreover, over an extended period, Mchiriku music and similar Swahili sounds have served as more than mere entertainment; they have been a means to voice citizens’ lived experiences, tackle social concerns, address gender issues, and bring attention to various matters. While this music genre is gradually diminishing, its considerable influence on the community, especially in championing freedom of expression and active participation, remains remarkably noteworthy.

The Jenga Sauti project translated as ‘Build Your Voice’, is dedicated to harnessing the potency of Swahili music, particularly Mchiriku, to enhance communal comprehension regarding the critical significance of open civic space and gender inclusivity, particularly emphasising freedom of expression and the right to participation as fundamental human rights. This initiative is centred on placing citizens at the forefront of transformative change through a combination of community art events, open community dialogues, and the strengthening of local Mchiriku bands as influential conduits. 

Beyond its impact on raising awareness about open civic space, the Jenga Sauti project aims to empower local musical bands by imparting skills in management, sustainability, mobilisation, encouraging women involvement, and broadening their audience reach. This multifaceted endeavour seeks to reignite the vibrancy of the local sound while fostering a broader understanding of civic engagement.

The first phase of the project was implemented with generous support from Hivos. Spare some time to read the full report here