Unknown at home but kings elsewhere
HARARE – They are the proverbial prophets who are not honoured in their homeland but treated as kings in foreign lands.
Mookomba is a virtually unknown music group from the resort town of Victoria Falls.
They are rarely featured on national radio stations, but they have achieved more in their short music career than many outfits have in decades.
They have been almost everywhere around Europe and have toured many European countries steadily building their musical profile leaving a lasting impression in European cities such as Stockholm, Oslo, Bilbao, Barcelona, Amsterdam and Brussels.
The six-member group has been blazing the music charts in Europe and has just returned from a tour of the continent, but will soon be embarking on another journey of the southern African region.
They first announced themselves to the Harare crowd at the Harare International Festival of the Arts (Hifa) in April.
The name Mookomba comes from the group’s deep respect for the Zambezi River where many Tonga people live.
But their show last Saturday at the Book Cafe was their real big announcement.
“It’s (music) a celebration of our life and gives us energy to keep going on,” Marcus Goora, the group’s manager told the Daily News amid the thumping beats of their energetic music at Book Café.
To illustrate the cross-cutting appeal the crowd at the weekend show was made up of the young, the old, foreigners and locals.
All were united in music though not many among the crowds could understand what Mathias Muzaza, the group’s lead vocalist was singing about.
That however, did not deter them as they danced to the Tonga beat.
Many of the people who attended the show kept on asking where they were from.
Some thought they are a foreign group but to their surprise Muzaza spoke to them in perfect Shona after their show.
Many thought it was a group from somewhere in West Africa.
“I am happy that people are getting to know us and we would like to play more around the country.
“We have spent the better part of our time in Europe and I am sure it’s time we also do shows here,” said Muzaza adjusting his Scottish style hat which has become a trademark of the group.
They soaked the place with some thumping beats.
Mokoomba has this unique sound coupled with a West African feel.
You need to see them in action to understand why they have captured the attention of the Europeans.
Mookomba brings to the audiences an electrifying blend of Afro-fusion and tantalising traditional Tonga rhythms.
Their story is one of sheer perseverance. From competing in the Music Cross Roads competition in 2007 to rocking European music festivals all in a space of two years.
“That’s a mark of brilliance,” Cde Biko, a reveller told the Daily News at the Book Café show.
The group is made up of Mathias Muzaza, lead vocalist, Trustworth Samende, lead guitarist, Abundance Mutori, bass guitarist, Donald Moyo, keyboards, Costa Ndaba Moyo, drums and Miti Mugande, percussions.
Mokoomba was formed in 2001. It released its debut album Kweseka which means to drift ahead in English, in the same year.
The group’s songs relate to social ills, the HIV pandemic, love and Zimbabwean life.
Currently, they are basking in the glory of the release of the latest album, Rising Tide.
Akena. Hammagaadji of First World Music in New York/United States of America described the album as “….a splendid document.
“The music is strong, modern, rooted in Africa and spiked with the spice of Latin, soukous, reggae, palm wine and other influences.”
“I just listened to it and I find it wonderful. This does not often happen, African music these days is making me so happy. Congratulations,” that’s how Marianne Berna of World Music Switzerland reacted after listening to the album.
Their comments largely resonated with those of the crowd that attended their show at Book Café last weekend.