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As Old as My Tongue: The Myth and Life of Bi Kidude

Dir. Andy Jones | 2006 | 66 min

A portrait of Taarab singer Bi Kidude, a legend on her home island of Zanzibar who beguiled audiences around the world after coming to international attention in her 80s.

“The Myth and Life of Bi Kidude” is an apt subtitle for Andy Jones's vibrant portrait of a larger-than-life performer who came to global attention only when she was well into her 80s. Or so it was thought; when the reigning queen of Taarab died in April 2013 she was thought to be several years past 100 but no one knew her age for sure – not even Bi Kidude, which only added to her allure when she was discovered two decades earlier by the growing international audience for African music. As Old as My Tongue does more than traverse the history of a remarkable and seemingly ageless performer. Jones's film revels in Bi Kidude’s forceful, taboo-breaking personality as a Muslim woman who smoked, drank, beat on drums, schooled young brides in the mysteries of sex and marriage, and could talk smack with anybody. And it finds within her story a cultural history of Zanzibar, where centuries of trade among native East Africans, Arabs, Indians, and colonial powers created a polyglot culture that produced a distinctive musical style.

Bi Kidude
United Kingdom
World Music