A few months ago, the Tanzanian top singer, Hassan Rehani Bitchuka announced to be calling it quits from the country’s music scene, citing health problems.
Bitchuka, known as the Sinatra of East Africa, has been in the music industry for more than 50 years.
The singer and songwriter, a product of Kigoma Region, is now signing off at the age of 77 years.
Hassan Rehani has always been the favourite singer of the former Tanzanian President, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete who remains a big fan of the Mlimani Park Orchestra.
Mlimani, with its long-reined ‘Sikinde Ngoma ya Ukae’ style, is the band which Bitchuka served the longest during his career lifespan.
Together with his former Sikinde partner, the late Muhidin Mwalimu (Gurumo), who had a mid-baritone vocal range, Bitchuka is featured in the book titled, ‘The Legacy of Tanzanian Musicians,’ written by Frank Gunderson.
Official reports indicate that, Bitchuka who suffers serious case of Diabetes, recently underwent an eye surgery which left him partially blind, thus the reason to exit from stage.
However, in one or more occasions the singer has been seen on stage on brief musical stint, indicating that it was not easy to simply kiss the microphone goodbye, just like that.
Hassan Bitchuka fame started in the early seventies when he joined the Juwata Jazz Band (formerly NUTA), a music ensemble owned by the country’s National Trade Unions’ Umbrella organization.
The late seventies saw Bitchuka leaving JUWATA a band flaunting the Msondo Ngoma Music Style and joining Mlimani Park Orchestra a rival group of ‘Sikinde’ fame.
In 1985 both Bitchuka and Gurumo, with four other musicians, jumped ship from Mlimani Park to join the International Orchestra Safari Sound where they initiated the ‘Ndekule’ dance style.
Bitchuka stayed in OSS for just two years before switching back to his former band, Mlimani Park, this time remaining in the group until his recent retirement.
His voice shine in song like Clara, Penzi la Mwisho, Hiba, Sauda and Talaka ya Hasira (with Mlimani Park Orchestra).
He also belts hits like Rehani, Si wazuri Binadamu, Shida, Shukrani Kwa Mjomba and Siri ya Pendo (With Orchestra Safari Sound) as well as Uzuri si Shani, Sogea Karibu and Nidhamu ya Kazi (with Juwata Jazz).
Many music lovers easily recognize Bitchuka’s honey coated alto vocals that sometimes rise to palatable soprano.