We met Bi Kidude in 2003 in Zanzibar, when we were at the planning meeting for the African Feminist Congress. She liked to smoke and drink in public. She liked to sing in public. She also liked to straddle her drum and gyrate her hips as she beat that drum.Bella Matambanadzo 4th AFF, Zimbabwe April 2016
She said to the young ones in the room — Jessica Horn, Pumla Gqola and myself — then the babies of the African Feminist Congress, “You must never be afraid of taking pleasure.” Bi Kidude told us that we should never be ashamed of becoming old in public.
We honour the life of Bi Kidude, our African feminist percussionist and sexologist who did a session on sexual pleasure and drumming in Zanzibar. Her legacy continues in how the drums beat at every African Feminist Forum. Just as at every forum we discuss sexuality, pleasure and enjoyment of life.
I met her for the first time in 2000, when I attended the Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF). She referred to herself as Fatuma binti Baraka, which means “Fatuma, the daughter of Baraka”. We knew her well as Bi Kidude.
No one knows the exact date she was born. Every time you would speak to Bi Kidude, she’d give a different birthdate. In 2005, she was more than 100 years old. Three years later, she was approaching 100. Years later, she was 110.
What we do know is that Bi Kidude was born around 1910 and passed away on 17 April 2013. She performed for over 100 years on many stages, locally and internationally, beating her drum.