20 February 2014
Dar es Salaam. Media For Development International is proud to announce the DVD release of
three Swahiliwood enter-educate feature films:
Mdundiko produced by Timothy Conrad
Sunshine produced by Karabani
Network produced by John Kallage
The project has been made possible by the generous support of the American People through
USAID in collaboration with the Johns Hopkins University Center for Communication Programs
and in partnership with Proin Promotions, Tanzania’s fastest growing commercial DVD distribution company.
The Swahiliwood model harnesses the youthful energy of Tanzania’s exploding film industry to
communicate social complexities around HIV; recognized by the Government of Tanzania as
one of the most serious health challenges facing the nation.
The model also provides training and mentoring in film production for what is increasingly recognized as one of the leading industries for employment generation for Tanzania’s youth.
The public-private-partnership between the Tanzanian and United States’ Governments and
Tanzania’s most creative and talented filmmakers and celebrated movie stars, propelled by
commercial interests of one of Tanzania’s fastest growing cultural industries, guarantees massive audience reach for these important films across Tanzania and the Swahili speaking regions
About the Swahiliwood project
If you think there is no film industry in Tanzania, think again! Adding to the well known industries of Hollywood, Bollywood, and Nollywood, there is another, well established but elsewhere
little-known film industry: Swahiliwood !
“The Swahili film industry is growing”, explains Louise Kamin, Program Officer at MFDI. “Every
week, ten new low budget movies are produced, and six are released into the market, a market
consisting of 132 million potential viewers spread across East Africa and reaching into Central
and Southern Africa.”
During the last years, Media for Development International Tanzania (MFDI-TZ) has been studying the local film industry trends across the country. The results are showing wide viewership
of local films in a vibrant and profitable cultural industry that is growing steadily and providing
thousands of jobs for Tanzanians.
MFDI is also engaging practically with this
vibrant industry through co-productions
with local filmmakers on feature films
that embrace Entertainment-Education
approaches in storytelling.
The Swahiliwood model harnesses the
energy and creativity of young Tanzanian
filmmakers, to address social themes in
an entertaining format. Partnering with
private sector distributors insures the
films reach wide audiences through commercially driven distribution networks.
The project uses the opportunity to engage with key stakeholders from Tanzania’s public sector including the Copyright Society of Tanzania, the National
Film Board (censorship) and the Tanzania
Revenue Authority to influence industry
policies conducive to the growth and development of this sector.
“We launched the Swahiliwood project because we felt that the young film industry in Tanzania
represented untapped potential” explains John Riber, country director at MFDI.
Emerging film industries across Africa are increasingly becoming important contributors to
employment creation and economic growth. Nigeria’s film industry, Nollywood, is recognized
as the second largest employer in the country. And there is no reason why the growth of the
Tanzanian film industry, Swahiliwood, cannot follow suit.
In a nutshell, the aims of the Swahiliwood project are:
Producing and distributing feature films that effectively address social themes
while building the technical skills of Tanzanian filmmakers
to enhance the growth of Tanzania’s film sector
and create employment opportunities for thousands of young Tanzanians
MFDI has produced our first three feature films under the Swahiliwood banner with a focus on
HIV prevention and treatment.
The Swahiliwood Feature Films Project is a collaborative and mutually beneficial partnership
between Tanzanian filmmakers and the USAID funded Tanzania Capacity and Communication
Project (TCCP) managed by the Johns Hopkins University Center for Communication Programs.
The training and mentoring process began with script development and continued with specialized workshops throughout the complex processes involved in pre-production, production and
distribution of feature films.
The final result is three unique stories from three unique voices:
MDUNDIKO – a story about the conflict between morality, tradition and reason in the
community life of a village
NETWORK – a haunting story about a serial murder case to be solved by an ageing detective and his young attractive colleague
SUNSHINE – a touching modern urban story about the temptations of crime and unconditional love between a son and his mother
These films will now be distributed commercially through broadcast, internet and on DVD format through a private sector partnership with Proin Promotions, reaching millions of Swahili
speaking audience in Tanzania and the Swahili speaking region.
It will be interesting to see how Swahili speakers in East Africa and around the world will decide
which are their favourites.
About Media For Development International
Founded in 1989, Media for Development International (MFDI) was established in Tanzania in 2005.
MFDI is a media production company. Our studios in
Msasani have become a vibrant and creative hub for
music, radio and film/television production. Our major achievements include the long running Wahapahapa radio drama and popular award winning films
and television programs including Chumo and Siri ya
MFDI-Tanzania seeks to promote development and transformation through socially conscious
media. We work with bilateral development agencies, government and non-government organizations and private sector partners.
MFDI recognizes the great potential of Tanzania’s film industry (affectionately known as Bongo
Movies), not only as a platform to present social issues, but also as an industry that can affect
development through the creation of employment for Tanzanian youth.
Film industries are the most layered and faceted branch of the creative industries with the
most convincing economic potential. One case in point is the Nigerian film industry, which is
recognized as the second largest employer in that populous West African nation.
Swahiliwood is about capacity building; providing practical training and mentoring for young
Tanzanian filmmakers in all aspects of feature film production, from concept and script development, through production, marketing and distribution.
Swahiliwood is about production. We provide training and mentoring within the context of
making, marketing and distributing commercially viable feature films.
The three films we are celebrating tonight, Sunshine, Network and Mdundiko, are the first
three features films we have produced under the Swahiliwood banner. These three films are
HIV interventions that will reach vast audiences across Tanzania and wider into the Swahili
speaking region. They will be blockbusters! Their commercial success is based on the following
principles of the Swahiliwood model:
1. These are good stories, well told by creative young Tanzanian writers and filmmakers
who were afforded the time and resources to prove what they are capable of achieving.
2.The writers and filmmakers received professional and technical guidance throughout
the writing and production processes, and
3. The private sector is responsible for profitable marketing and distribution of the films
across Tanzania and the Swahili speaking region.
LUFU is educated and smart but restless and angry. He can’t hold down a job and is easily distracted by drink, dope and women, which have landed him nothing but trouble.
At just 22 he’s already on ARVs and slipping into a lifestyle dominated by petty-crime.
Lufu is from a good and loving family. His mother, MAMA EVA, a hard working entrepreneur, runs a successful restaurant with his sister EVA. Mama Eva knows Lufu’s survival
depends on healthy living and adherence to his medication. She is worried sick about
her son. And the stress is killing her.
When Mama Eva collapses and advised she needs heart surgery the family can’t afford,
Lufu decides to take matters in his own hands. How far will he go to secure what is
needed to save his mothers life?
A story of unconditional love between mother and son.
is a music and film producer
and film director from Dar
es Salaam. We talked to him
in his office where he was
working on the editing of
an episode of Siri ya Mtungi
1. How did you get into the film business ?
At first it was a hobby. From the time I was very young I loved film, but I never thought I could actually
do it. Until I got a bit tired of music.
I used to be into music: I was a DJ, then I became a music producer. And, you know, working with music
software is very similar to working with editing software. So it was an easy technical transition. But I
never studied film production. I studied economics and business.
While producing music I tried to make some music videos, but they never worked out. They sucked; it
was terrible. But then I started an internet programme; on a youtube channel. The programme had the
format of a late night show. Something like Jay Leno, David Letterman or The Daily Show - somewhere in
between the three. I did everything. I was the producer. I was the host, the editor, the everyone. I did it
all by myself. I put a camera in front of myself and then started talking. It was kind of funny and stupid,
but people loved it and wanted to see more. So that is where I started in filmmaking. Humble beginnings.
2. What was your first film project ?
After this youtube channel thing I took part time gigs on movie sets. I had already graduated from University and had a full time job. On the weekend I would just go over to a set and help out. Sometimes I
was just an extra, sometimes third assistant camera operator or whatever was missing.
My first big project was when I decided to do my own feature film, Baby Powder in 2008. This was the
first time I directed, it was the first time I was executive producer and the producer. Again, I kind of wore
a lot of hats, because I wanted to make sure that it succeeded. And it did. We made the whole thing a
success. It was very tough. But I am pretty proud of it.
I also have a lot of short movies under my belt. I started something called Kiduchu (“something really
small” in Kiswahili). Within this project we decided to do random short films. The idea was to do anything
we could without putting money into it. The only things we spend money on were transport and food.
And we did a lot of films. At one certain point my company had a contract with Clouds to make 60 short
films. I made about 15 myself. Those films didn’t have to meet specific requirements. We had to come
up with new ideas all the time. Some of them I wouldn’t even call short films. Some of them were just
skits. It was good practical experience.
3. What do you think about the Swahiliwood project ?
I think it’s a great model. The spillover benefits from it are just incredible. Before joining the project I
had my own way of doing certain things. And that was somehow between stuff I learnt elsewhere and
things that were put together the way things are put together here in Tanzania. So I really wanted to find
a more structured way.
There is so much that needs improvement here. So you have to look at the outside to see how other
people do it. But then you have to cater that to our own way here. The Tanzanian film industry - it is its
own thing. You can’t just bring something from outside and say: “Boom – do that!”. But somewhere in
between the extremes, somewhere right in the middle, you will find something that works for us here.
And then you’ll get something really beautiful. That’s what the Swahiliwood project is doing: creating a
So I love it. I personally learnt a lot from it and I think my team learned a lot from it. I improved as a
filmmaker. And I recommend Swahiliwood be repeated and that more people have the opportunity to
participate in it.
4. Did you encounter any challenges in making Sunshine ?
I can’t say we had major challenges. Apart from maybe the everyday challenges you face when shooting any film around here. One problem is locations. Another one is people’s perception of the business.
People still don’t put a lot of value in film. And if they see you shooting something in their street they
might agree today. But then tomorrow they might change their mind.
They still think we are just having fun and filmmaking is just a hobby. They might say “Get a real job”.
They might think we couldn’t find a decent job elsewhere. It’s really only these kinds of challenges.
5. How was working with stars like Ben Pol, Gwaii and others ?
They didn’t see themselves as stars. And I didn’t see them as stars. And that was the most beautiful thing: We were all equal. We were all specialists and students at the same time in the Swahiliwood
project. When you know your position and you play your position it makes things so much easier for
Looking back now I would say we were vacationing for 24 days. 24 days we were having fun around
Dar es Salaam. We were those people coming together and doing something we all like doing. We were
sharing our passion.
6.Where do you see the future of film in Tanzania and in East Africa as a whole ?
With the East African Community preparing itself for its union; a free flow of goods and movement of
people; with East African borders going down, the film industry will play a major role in unifying the region. And regional integration will be really beneficial for the film industry as it caters to more than 120
million Kiswahili speakers in the region.
That’s my outlook: Sports and art are unifying factors. So there is a role for our films to play. They are
going to help shape what is going to happen. There is going to be this high demand for it. And people
have to be very careful. It’s not just the economic aspect of it that is important. But films shape cultures.
That’s the way I look at it. We are at a critical stage. Filmmakers will play a major role in shaping how
this works out for the region.
Lufu Mama Eva Daniel
A karabani film
Director Assistant Director Writer
Production Trainer Mentors
Director Of Photography
Novatus “Rrah C” Mugurusi
Ben M. Mbwana
Sudi J. Masabwa
Intern Bravo Philipps DTV
MZEE NJIMBA and MZEE KONDO, friends since childhood are also related through marriage of their children with a shared grandson CHUMI.
Njimba is an arrogant, belligerent man known for his abilities as a drummer and arranger of dances (Ngoma), including the notorious Hondomola, where multiple dance
partners are encouraged.
When Kondo objects to the increasing popularity and frenzy of the alcohol fuelled Hondomola, Njimba and his thugs have Kondo and his family chased out of the village.
Over time Njimba’s drumming takes its toll on the villagers, who are weakened and
ailing after participating in Hondomola. Njimba’s attempt to treat them with traditional
cures is ineffective.
It will take Chumi and a new generation of traditional drummers, to appreciate that
corrupting the cultural values of Ngoma can threaten the survival of their community.
Kabirigi ( Director )
was born the third child
of seven in Bukoba in
Kagera district. His parents were farmers in the
region. He has not married yet, but has a son
Kabirigi has lived and
worked in Dar es Salaam
since 2003. We caught
up with him at MFDI offices.
1. I read you were first engaged in the music industry. How did you end up making
When I was engaged in making music I met people who gave me new ideas. They said: “You are singing,
but really you have the appearance of an actor.” And secondly, when I was shooting music videos I was
always having new ideas. I would say: “Let’s try this, let’s do it this way”. That’s why people kept saying
that I would be a good director. They encouraged me to try my luck in filmmaking.
2. What are your plans or aspirations for the future ?
Winning the award (at the 2013 Silicon Valley African Film Festival) for Mdundiko in the United States
and the online hype that followed, gave me a real challenge. This award was a big thing for me. Many
colleagues of mine from Africa and all over the world would have liked to get it. I have a good name now
and a reputation to lose. My next project has to be even better. I hope with the training I got from MFDI
and with the help of God I can do it.
3. What do you think about the Swahiliwood project ?
I want to shake hands with the people who brought the Swahiliwood to life. I thank them a thousand
times. To be honest, when I first started participating in the Swahiliwood project, many Tanzanians asked
me: “What is this project good for? What do they want to bring to us? How do they think they are going
help us?” But the benefits from the project are marvellous. I personally gained so much.
Other participants of the project might not have won an award yet, but we all learned a lot. I believe that
the Tanzanian film industry will change. And the source of this change is Swahiliwood.
Our Tanzanian film market does not grow as fast as it could. But projects like Swahiliwood make us understand which steps to take, what to do to succeed. If we take the right steps we can even reach the
American market. I was so surprised that Mdundiko would be taken notice of in the USA at all. It shows
me that our movies have the potential to travel far. One source of all this is programs like Swahiliwood.
4. Did you face any challenges in shooting Mdundiko ?
It was pretty challenging to shoot Mdundiko. You know, for all the time I have been making films I have
been used to making Bongo movies: low budget films with a lot of problems here and there. I have been
used to shooting a film within as little as 5 to 7 days.
For Mdundiko we had 21 days to shoot. That’s a lot for us! And the team had to get used to working
this way. The Swahiliwood project taught me how to keep in control and how to plan the tasks for every
party involved in the film making process. I felt like the coach of a football team. The important thing is
to respect each other and to explain to everyone: If we do it this way, like a team, we will reach our aim.
5. How did it feel to work with stars like Lumole Matovolwa and Richard
You know, Lumole Matovolwa is a colossus of a man. And he is not only a colossus physically, but also
professionally. I am very young. I met a large number of people on the film set, who have been my idols
and my ancestors in the film business. And it was difficult to just tell them what to do as they are much
more experienced than I am. Before we started shooting Mdundiko I actually always wanted to just meet
Lumole Matovolwa, I wanted to meet Hissani Muya, Ummy Wenceslous and Mr. Masinde. So when making
Mdundiko I considered myself very lucky to be directing those stars. They gave me a lot of courage and
they are the ones who guided me to where I am now.
6. Where do you see the future of the Tanzanian film industry ?
First of all, we have to know what we want for ourselves. Once we know what we want we will be able to
stand up for what we want. We should be able to analyse ourselves. We are the ones that are the insiders of the industry and we are the ones from whom the industry emerges.
Secondly, if we are lucky to have people coming here investing their energy in us, we should wake up
and listen to what they have to tell us. They might be able to give us good advice, so that we can improve the things we are doing.
Our problem as Tanzanian filmmakers is mostly education. Once
we get proper education in filmmaking our industry will thrive. It
is really education that we need: the education to safeguard our
resources, to build our capacities and to refine the work we do.
We cannot expect the government to do everything for us. We
ourselves have to take part in, for example, discussing intellectual
property rights. If we unite, change will become feasible - until
we reach a global market. But there is still a long journey ahead
Writer, Producer, Cameraman, Editor
was born the second child of three in Morogoro District in
1988, but has been living in Dar es Salaam ever since 2004
when he started studying computer science with an emphasis
on graphic design.
He then carried on working as a teacher until he decided to
engage himself professionally in the film business.
Films he has contributed to include: 077 Days, Home village,
The Killers, The Power of Faith, Red & Green, Guilt, Briefcase,
Hard Time, CID, My Nephew, Single Zero, and Kisate.
1. How did you get in touch with the film business ?
For one, there is a relation to the film business through my family: my aunt Veneranda Kachumia has
participated in making several Tanzanian films.
And I personally have longed to create something that is visual, something that informs and educates
people since I was young. This is why I started to study graphic design. And it is why I am now so fond
To be honest, the very first time I shot a movie I was afraid I couldn’t do it, because I never went to any
film school. I only had my passion and my natural talent to get me started. But every time I hold a camera in my hand I suddenly feel I need to do this. That’s how I shot my first film “Nimpende nani” a while
ago. After that I talked to people that had watched the film and they were surprised and said “Yes, he
can”. One of them was the famous Sadick Juma Kilowoko ‘Sajuki’. He called me and told me he wanted to
work with me, so we planned another project. And so I got more and more entangled in the film industry.
2. How did the story of Mdundiko come into life ?
The script I wrote has a lot to do with my family. My grandfather was called Njimba (like Mzee Njimba in
the movie). He was this authority with the air and the behaviour of leader. He was a Mpogoro from the
Morogoro region and very influential at his time. So I had the idea to create a character just like him:
someone who influences people through the way he teaches them to dance. I added this dark site of him
which makes Mdundiko so special.
But then, of course, I wanted the good to win. I wanted to give the audience their happy ending and I
also wanted to include some educational value. This was when I introduced Chumi. “Chumi” is also my
nickname. I let Chumi be the one who brings harmony and peace back to the village. So that in the end
everybody was satisfied.
3. What is your vision for the future ?
One vision I have is to show Tanzanian films to people all over the world. These are questions I ask
myself every single day: How can we get more visible? How can we produce bongo movies on such a
high level that people not only in Tanzania, but also in East Africa and all over the world want to watch
them? I would love to show people the “real Tanzania”. My plan is to be persistent until we reach a global
4. What do you think about the Swahiliwood project ?
First of all, I am really grateful for the project because it introduced me to a lot of people that are important for me. I also learnt many things. I got a lot of training that taught me how to write a script, how to
produce a film, and also how to be a DOP. I got everything I wanted at once.
5. Did you encounter any challenges in making Mdundiko ?
One problem has been that we have to face a lack of education everywhere. So for Mdundiko a lot of
people who - like me - haven’t had any formal education in filmmaking were participating. Some of them
also had little experience in this handicraft.
Another problem has been that in the Bongo movies’ film business we are used to working with a very
small crew of three or four people: one holding the camera, one the light and one directing.
For Mdundiko we have been about seventeen people on set. One for make-up, one for the wardrobe,
and so on. This way we had to learn how to not step on each others feet. And we had to learn solving
conflicts in an efficient way with all those different ideas and opinions around. So yes, there were some
challenges we had to deal with.
6. You have been working with several stars during the last years of your career.
For Mdundiko you worked with actors like Lumole Matovolwa (Mzee Njimba) and
Richard Masinde (Mzee Kondo). What were your experiences ?
What is special working with stars is that they all reach high. This of course can be an advantage. It’s
great to work with ambitious and hard-working people.
7. Where do you see the future of the Tanzanian film industry / Swahiliwood ?
For me the future of Tanzanian films is all about conquering new markets. We work hard in order to succeed. And our work is even harder as we always have to compete with movies from the west. But I think
we have a lot of talent, we have a lot to show and to talk about. This is why I think we will make it.
Denis Sweya Ummy Wenceslous
Producers First Assistant Director
Director of Photography
Line Producer Executive Producer
David Thosh Gitonga
“History can’t get erased.”
When DETECTIVE ROBERT DEMANGO, one of the forces’ finest, is given three weeks
notice for lack of performance, he doesn’t give a damn. He knows his days as one of
Dar es Salaam’s most celebrated detectives are numbered.
Riddled with guilt for his wife’s death, depressed and drinking heavily, he’s given up trying to adhere to his anti-retroviral treatment. For Demango, the game of life is over...
... until he discovers a serial killer is targeting his sexual network.
But will he have the time to redeem himself once and for all?
This case is personal... and the clock is ticking.
John Justin Kallage
was born the third child in
his family. He is 29 years old
and is originally from Tanga,
but got his primary and secondary education in Dar es
Salaam. He got a diploma in
IT in South Africa and also
worked there for a while.
1. How did you get into the film business ?
I started working as a cable man for a TV channel and became a guerilla film maker in 2006. In 2008 and
2009 I mostly made music videos and won the award for Best Music Video Director at the Kilimanjaro
Music Awards two years consecutively.
My way into the film business was rather slow and steady. I started script writing already when I was
in secondary school. JB - Jacob Stevens - is my cousin. So whenever I have ideas, I run to him and he
might use my ideas in his films or soaps.
Before working with MFDI, I only had the experience of making three films: Kindergarten, The Chase
2. What are your plans for the future ?
Oh, I have many plans. I’m no amateur in filmmaking anymore. I consider myself a professional filmmaker in my own way. Having chosen this career, my ambition drives me to always improve myself.
3. What do you think about the Swahiliwood project ?
Firstly, MFDI managed to make Tanzanian filmmakers understand that the Swahiliwood project makes
sense. Secondly, on an individual level, it opened my perception of the world of filmmaking and it helped
me to take the next steps of my career. Even those who were already specialists in the field of filmmaking
could get something out of these workshops. It is good to be in a group, where you can reflect on your
strengths and weaknesses. This is the way you really learn about yourself.
Swahiliwood set its own standards for making films. Standards in work ethics, delegating of work, team
work, how to motivate a group to work together from preproduction till the screening of the film.
4. What kind of challenges did you encounter in making NETWORK?
Filmmaking is all about communicating. As a director I have this vision in my head what I want to create.
But I learned that others have to understand my ideas. I have to communicate my ideas to the whole
crew and I also have to be open to accept good ideas coming from the crew. This is a big challenge for
many movie makers here.
It was a challenge to make a film with such a big team. We got so much input at all stages of production.
And we were dependent on every single one in the team to be there on time and do there work. Timing
and management were the greatest challenges. We fought a lot. It was hard. But I think it was worth it.
5. How was working with stars like Brian Ibrick and Monalisa (Ivonne Cherry) ?
Finding good actors is not easy in Tanzania. I found Brian Ibrick by accident. I think he fits the character
of Detective Demango very well, but he did not have acting experience, so it was a lot of work to get a
performance from him. The language and the art of acting were new to him so we had to struggle quite
I am very grateful to Yvonne Cherry for all her help. Yvonne is a seasoned professional. She was very
patient and great to work with. So her experience and also the advice of Simon Mwakifwamba, who is
the president of the Tanzanian Film Federation, helped us a lot.
6. Where do you see the future of the Tanzanian film industry ?
The future of the Tanzanian film industry is a future full of struggle. People complain there is little investment. But I say the investment will follow once you create a good environment for it. So we first have to
create a good environment for investment. I don’t expect the government to give us money, but they
need to give us good and clear policies so we can attract investment.
We have a lot of challenges, but I am full of hope. I am a board member of the Tanzanian Film Federation and we try to influence the policy makers in parliament. We are optimistic to reach some of our aims
while Tanzania works on the renewal of its constitution. One of our board members is also a member of
the constitutional assembly creating the new constitution.
My son sees me working with my camera and he wants to follow me and I hope he can. As filmmakers
we have a lot of plans. And a lot of hope. And with a bit of luck change is coming soon.
Detective Robert Demango
Hon. Simon Mwakifwamba
Script Developed by Location manager Producers
Director of Photography
First Assistant Director Second Assistant Director
Editor & PM
Special effects Project manager Executive producer Co-Producer Sound & Music
John Kallage Barry Braverman
Novatus Nago Mugurusi
John Kallage Louise Kamin
Kalla pics Co. LTD