Emmanuel Kaghondi, a 35-year-old Tanzanian composer-musician, was one of the lucky ones. He got an education.
While primary school is free, secondary schooling at government-run institutions in Tanzania aren't. But Kaghondi was a good student, helped out at the school and had a nice headmaster who allowed him to attend school without paying.
"There are kids who are very bright, but they don't have support to go to school," he said. "Going to university is just not a process, it's a golden chance."
And now Kaghoni is pursuing a masters degree in music education and composition at University of Texas-Austin, thanks to assistance from Tumaini University Makumira and people he's met through the Charleston-based nonprofit Music for Tanzania.
His composition "From the Top of Kilimanjaro" will be performed at 6 p.m. today in a program called "From Africa to the Americas, part of Piccolo Spoleto's Spotlight Concert Series. The concert is at Mt. Zion AME Church, 5 Glebe St.
As soon as Kaghondi finished school in Tanzania, he was asked by his church to train as a church minister at seminary. After five years, he was ordained, joined a congregation in 2005, and began to participate in church music activities. He soon understood the need for formally trained music teachers, for music is a significant part of daily life in the region.
His church figured out a way to help him attend university. "So I was able to get my degree, after which I returned to my congregation," he said.
In 2012, the university asked Kaghondi to return to the institution to teach. He will go back next month to become a full-time music professor.
Local organization Music for Tanzania has been supporting the Tanzanian university, the only institution in East Africa to offer an internationally recognized undergraduate music degree. The nonprofit helped the school build "the only credible music library in all of Eastern Africa," according to Liz Tomorsky Knott, founder of Music for Tanzania.
Angela Zonunpari is a Goldring Arts Journalist from Syracuse University.