In the 1930's the great Taarab singer, Siti Bint Saad, was a prized performer at great ceremonies.
Whether at a wedding feast, or entertaining the Sultan of Zanzibar, Siti was accompanied by a violin, Arabian oud or lute, a drum and tambourine.
However, when I heard Zein L'Abdin playing the oud I knew that Mombasa had music that would satisfy even the most hardened Taarab traditionalist. Originally from the Island of Lamu, Zein, has been playing the oud since 1951 and since then he's preserved over 300 songs in a well thumbed songbook.
In the past some Taarab bands were set up and funded by the government or political parties.
Culture Musical Club, for example, began life as part of the youth organisation of the Afro Shirazi Party during Zanzibar's struggle for independence and after the 1964 revolution became part of the Ministry of Culture.
Althought the Club is now independent, other bands still find themselves entwined with politics.
Sanaa Taarab is a newly formed group under the control of the Zanzibari government.
"We have to send our poems to the government censor board and if the songs are against the government then they will not be allowed," says group member Salim Khamis.
"As the group is government owned, everything we do has to be within the four walls of government wishes."
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