By Ogova Ondego
Published September 5, 2013
Mokoomba, arguably one of the best acts from Africa at the moment, performed at Kenya’s Rift Valley Festival where they appeared to have left hungry music lovers still asking for more of their fusion of sounds, tunes and moves. This band from Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe was among what the organisers of the festival had described prior to the 3-day event as globally-sourced bands, musicians and world class DJs that would pump non-stop, all weekend, over three stages at Fisherman’s Camp on the shores of Lake Naivasha, under the stars of Kenya’s Great Rift Valley between August 30 and September 1, 2013. Mokoomba, who appeared on the main stage as did popular local Kenyan acts like Owinyo Sigoma and Eric Wainaina on the second day of the festival, took up their 90-minute slot on stage at 11.30 PM.
Marcus Gora, the Manager of Mokoomba Band, spoke to ArtMatters.Info’s OGOVA ONDEGO after their show.
Please introduce the band members; how many are you?
Our band has six members : Mathias Muzaza – Lead singer; Trustworth Samende – lead guitarist; Abundance Mutori – Bass player; Ndaba Coster Moyo – drummer; Miti Mugande – percussionist; and Donald Moyo – keyboard player . I am Marcus Gora, the manager of Mokoomba.
How did you come to be invited to Rift Valley Festival?
We met with the Festival Director, Sean Ross, when we were performing at Sauti za Busara festival in Zanzibar in February 2013. He liked our performance and was determined from then on to bring us to the Rift Valley Festival. We thank him and his team for bringing us to Kenya.
How do you compare your performance with that of other artists at the festival?
We enjoyed watching other artists perform at the festival, something that we always do since we are a young band with lots to learn. We thought all the artists were awesome and we were satisfied with our performance as the main act of day 2, the main day of the festival.
What did the band perform at Rift Valley Festival?
We performed a 90-minute set, similar to the act that we have been performing during our recent 15-country European tour that saw us perform at festivals like Womad (UK), Roskilde (Denmark) and Sziget Festival (Hungary), to mention a few. It was also an opportunity for us to introduce our current album, Rising Tide, to the Kenyan audience. The 12-track Rising Tide signifies the musical and spiritual growth of Mokoomba as a band and the exciting journey that they are taking around the world. The album celebrates the traditional knowledge and rhythms translating them to speak to modern day life, its thrills and challenges.
Who is the target audience of Mokoomba music?
Mokoomba’s music is for everyone; that is why it is delicately fused to provide as much appeal to as many people as possible.
In which languages does Mokoomba perform?
Mokoomba sings mainly in Tonga and Lubale but also adds Nyanja, Chokwe, Mbunda, Ndebele, and Lozi since these are all common languages that are spoken widely in Victoria Falls.
Those languages—Tonga, Lubale, Nyanja, Chokwe, Mbunda, Ndebele, Lozi—trancend political borders in southern Africa, don’t they? Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, South Africa?
Yes, indeed they do. Victoria Falls is uniquely positioned as a border town between Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia and Namibia. There is a lot of interaction among the people who have been in that region for a long time or have recently migrated. It is also a famous tourist destination which means that there is always a lot of contact with the outside world.
Who was present and roughly how many people were in attendance?
The Festival had an audience of more than 2000 people who came to enjoy great music from local artists like Eric Wanaina, Winyo, Owiny Singoma and international acts like Paleface and Matre, Sousou & Maher.
How did the gathering receive your performance?
Many members of the audience said that it was the highlight of the festival and some commented on how excited they were to see something new and energetic coming out of Zimbabwe. Overall we received so much love and appreciation in Kenya.
Where else, apart from Harare in Zimbabwe, have you performed?
Mokoomba has been busy the past few years performing in more than 30 countries mostly in Africa and Europe. Mokoomba was in 2012 selected to perform live on the BBC’s Radio 2 programme called Later with Jools Holland in London, England. We also showcased at Moshito Music Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa and World Music Expo (WOMEX) in Thessaloniki, Greece.
Was this your first show in Kenya?
Yes, this was our first concert in Kenya.
Would you do another show in Kenya?
Indeed, we would definitely want to come back to Kenya, hopefully next year.