MOKOOMBA 2 Titles
Exuberant youthful energy bursting with natural talent and contagious rhythm, the six young musicians which make up Mokoomba are Zimbabwe's next generation of hope. Their story is one of diversity and perseverance.

Mokoomba hails from the Victoria Falls in 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 of the members of Mokoomba speak Tonga, which is not understood by the majority who speaks Ndebele and Shona. Despite coming from one of Zimbabwe's rural areas, 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 around southern Africa, absorbing its music heritage into his repertoire. Fellow band members call him a walking, talking (but mostly singing) music library of southern African song -- "Languages have always come naturally, I now speak 7," says Muzaza with a humble smile. "Wherever 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 2007, the group entered their first Music Crossroads Festival the same year in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe and went on to blow audiences away at the National Festival held in Harare. They went on to represent Zimbabwe at Music Crossroads InterRegional Festival (IRF) where competition was fierce, with top up and coming groups from Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe all jostling for the chance to win a European tour, an album recording, and much more. The IRF jury members chose Mokoomba, seeing not only great talent but great potential too. This victory gave Mokoomba the chance to bring their electrifying mix of Afro-fusion energy and tantalizing traditional Tonga beats to stages across the world.

The following year Mokoomba released their debut album, Kweseka (Drifting Ahead), which was launched together with their European tour in 2009. Sights were set high for the six-track album, which was produced by Music Crossroads with the help of a Belgium company Zig Zag World, in Harare at Thulani Studios, and mixed in Brussels with sound engineer Marco Gudanski. The album showcases their dynamically youthful style, perfect for igniting any dancefloor together with more serene R&B tracks that draw out the beauty of Muzaza's voice coupled with a stronger instrumental focus. The songs "Misozi" and "Mzumba" became local hits and had Harare audiences grooving at the HIFA Festival 2009 and at the Music Crossroads Zimbabwe National Festival. Mokoomba'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 collaborated with the famous Dutch DJ Gregor Salto, known for his funky sets with a lot of soul, Latin, jazz, disco and Afro-flavored House, for the "Stand Up Take Action -- End Poverty Campaign" initiated by Africa Unsigned. This led to the recording of the track "Messe Messe" and several other remixes.

In 2009-2010, the Belgian company Iota Production released a beautiful 50-minute documentary, Mokoomba, from one riverbank to another, produced by Frank Dalmat and François Ducat, that recounts the various episodes of joy, disillusions, difficulties, and success of this young band coming for the first time to Europe.

Mokoomba came back in 2010 for a European tour where they performed on prestigious stages all over the continent; they were the opening act for Rhe Cranberries at the Colors Festival in Ostrava (Czech Rep.), Couleur Café festival in Brussels (Belgium), Meyouzik festival (Luxembourg), Pirineos Sur festival (Spain), Afrikafestival in Hertme (The Netherlands), Etnomusic festival (San Marino), and many more. During 2010 and 2011, between Harare and Brussels, they recorded their 2nd album, Rising Tide, produced by the great Ivorian bass player and singer Manou Gallo.

Rising Tide was released in April 2012 and received rave reviews. It was nominated as one of the "best albums of the year" in no less than 30 radio stations, magazines, and newspapers, including "Top world music album" in the Guardian, "Top of the world album" in Songlines, and "One of the 10 best album of the year," in fROOTS.

Their third and fourth European tours in summer and autumn 2012 included a performance in the renowned BBC live show Later... with Jools Holland and a showcase at WOMEX where journalist Thorsten Bednarz (Deutschlandradio Kultur) said, "I've seen the future of Afrosound and it is called Mokoomba." 2013 began with the prestigious Songlines Music Award (UK) as "Best Newcomer," which Mokoomba received in December 2013 at the Barbican with the three others winners, Angélique Kidjo, Lo'Jo, and Dub Colossus. The year continued with astonishing press articles like the one in The Guardian feting Mokoomba as "Africa's most internationally successful young band after a rise that is as deserved as it has been remarkable."
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