Exuberant youthful energy bursting with natural talent and contagious rhythm, the six young men of Mokoomba are Zimbabwe’s next generation of hope. Mokoomba’s story is one of diversity and perseverance. The group hails from the Victoria Falls region of Zimbabwe, popular for its natural beauty, the Victoria Falls (Mosi-oa-Tunya) and the world’s largest bungee jump – but not much more is generally known about the people and their culture. The region is home to the Tonga people who are one of the country’s minority groups. Most speak Tonga, which is not understood by the majority of the Ndebele and Shona speaking population. Despite coming from one of Zimbabwe’s smallest rural villages, singing in a language foreign to even their countrymen, Mokoomba have never been deterred from their dream of making music.Musically distinct, Mokoomba combines traditional and modern instruments with a rich blend of rhythms, creating a vibrant sound consisting of not only traditional Tonga music but embracing the diverse cultures of southern Africa. Their unique style largely originates from lead vocalist Mathias Muzaza. Born to Angolan and Zambian parents, Mathias has spent his life travelling southern Africa, absorbing its music heritage into his repertoire. Fellow band members call him a walking, talking (but mostly singing) music library of southern Africa song, “Languages have always come naturally, I speak now speak 6” says Muzaza with a humble smile, “where ever I go I want to learn the songs of the people I meet, it gives me inspiration and joy”.
The name Mokoomba stems from a deep respect that the Tonga people have for the Zambezi River and for the vibrant life that it brings to their music and culture.
Formed in 2001, the group entered their first Music Crossroads Local Festival in August 2007 in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe and went on to blow audiences away at the National Festival held in Harare. The road to fame started in August 2008 where, at the Music Crossroads InterRegional Festival (IRF) in Lilongwe (Malawi), where their destiny was changed forever. Competition was fierce at the IRF, with top up and coming groups from Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe all jostling for the top position and the chance to win a European Tour, an album recording and much more. The group’s biggest rivals turned out to be fellow countrymen, the afro-jazzers Gwarimba from Harare. The two groups gave it all and had audiences jiving from start to finish. There were certainly no need for smoke machines on stage as the amount of dust the crowd was shaking from the group provided ample effect! The IRF jury members had to make a decision and in Mokoomba they saw not only great talent but great potential too. Mokoomba are now set to bring their electrifying mix of Afro-fusion energy and tantalizing traditional Tonga beats to stages across the world.
Mokoomba released then their debut album “Kweseka”, which was launched together with their European Tour in 2009. Sights have been set high for the six track album, which was put together with Music Crossroads Tours and Promotions Manager Poney Gross in Harare at Thulani Studios and mixed in Brussels with sound engineer Marco Gudanski. In English “Kweseka” translates to “Drifting Ahead” and it seems certain that this musical ‘band of brothers’ are destined to do a just that. The album showcases their dynamically youthful style, perfect for igniting any dance floor together with more serene R&Bish tracks that draw out the beauty of Muzaza’s voice coupled with a stronger instrumental focus. Tracks became local hits are Misozi and Mzumba, which had Harare audiences grooving at the HIFA Festival 2009 and at the Music Crossroads Zimbabwe National Festival. The group’s songs relate to social ills, the HIV pandemic, love and Zimbabwean life reflecting a nation determined never to give up hope.
Their first European tour in October/November 2009 created a big buzz in Stockholm, Oslo, Bilbao, Barcelona, Amsterdam and Brussels !!
During this tour they also got together with the famous Dutch DJ Gregor Salto, known for his funky sets with a lot Soul, Latin, Jazz, Disco and Afro flavoured House and other beats for the “Stand Up Take Action – End Poverty Campaign” in 2009 of Africa Unsigned where they recorded the track Messe Messe and several remixes.
Mokoomba came back in Europe in 2010 for a tour where they did prestigious stages all over European countries like the opening act for the Cranberries at the Colors Festival in Ostrava (Czech Rep.), the festival Couleur Café in Brussels (Belgium), Meyouzik Festival (Luxembourg), Pirineos Festival (Spain), Afrikafestival in Hertme (Holland), festival San Marino in Italy, festival City of Luxemburg, …
During 2010 and 2011, they recorded their 2nd CD « Rising tide » produced by the great Ivorian bass player & singer Manou Gallo.
2012, “Rising tide” is released and received applauses from the public and best critics and awards from professionals as “Top of the world album” in Songlines magazine and “One of the 10 best album of the year” in fROOTS magazine.
Their 3rd and 4th European tours in summer and falls 2012, including live performance in the renowned BBC live show “Later with Jools Holland” and showcase at the WOMEX in Greece, gave the best hopes for this growing and powerfull band. After the WOMEX show, one of the journalist said “I’ve seen the future of Afrosound and it is called Mokoomba ». !
Mathias Muzaza : lead vocal & percussions
Trustworth Samende : lead guitar & backing vocal
Abundance Mutori : bass guitar & backing vocal
Donald Moyo : keyboards & backing vocal
Ndaba Coster Moyo : drums & backing vocal
Miti Mugande : percussions & backing vocal
- Best world and folk music albums of 2012 (guardian.co.uk)
- My Harare Series (sunshinecityguide.wordpress.com)
- The Smoke that Thunders (ireport.cnn.com)
- Mokoomba’s Njoka Peaks At Number 2 On International Video Charts (naisentertainment.wordpress.com)
- 27 People At The Edge Of Victoria Falls (buzzfeed.com)
- Dichotomy – Mosi Oa Tunya National Park, Zimbabwe (travelpod.com)