THE recently held 21st edition of the National Arts Merit Awards (NAMA) continues to be topical in various circles.
Important about the awards ceremony is that they make both the nominated and winners feel that their work and input in the industry is valued.
However, it does not mean artistes who were not on the list of nominees are doing less work.
Zimbabwe is one of the countries blessed with a variety of artistes who are making waves in both the local and international arena.
Notable about some of the artistes is that they have not only made names for themselves but have put the country on the map.
Some of the artistes have carried with them a language of a few and make it loved and appreciated by many.
An example is Mokoomba, a six-member music group that hailed from Chinotimba in Victoria Falls to be one of the most talented and recognised African music group.
Formed in 2008, Mokoomba is among the top local music groups that have managed to take Zimbabwean music across the globe.
With their usual polished act, the group has also managed to capture the hearts of many in numerous venues around the world and this has contributed to them being a force to reckon with.
Each member in the group uses well his talent to form a combined effort that results in a harmony of musical composition.
The music group is made up of professionals: Trustworth Samende (lead guitarist), Ndaba Coster Moyo (drummer), Mathias Muzaza (lead vocalist), Miti Mugande (percussionist), Abundance Mutori (bass player) and Phathisani Moyo (keyboard player).
Mokoomba might not be part of those nominated and won at NAMA but that does not mean they have not been recognised in different awards ceremonies.
Marcus Gora, the group’s manager said: “Over the past 10 years, we have toured more than 50 countries around the world and won several awards and we continue to be in demand at music events, venues and festivals across the globe.”
In other words, one can say the group has done what the late Mbuya Stella Chiweshe, Oliver Mtukudzi and Bhundu Boys did.
They were all successful in taking Zimbabwean music to international heights.
Gora also said what keeps the group together is the bond and background of all the six members having grown up in the same township of Chinotimba.
“They attended the same schools and churches. During and after school activities, they would gather together and learn to play music while other children enjoyed sports like soccer and athletics,” revealed Gora.
Directly or indirectly, the group is contributing socially, economically and most importantly to the cultural heritage of the country.
“Their motivation comes from the fact that they are passionate about promoting all local languages including languages spoken by ‘minority’ groups,” said Gora.
Their songs are performed in a number of languages that include English, Luvale, Tonga, Nyanja, Ndebele and Shona.
“Mosi-oa-Tunya (Victoria Falls), their home town, is a melting pot of languages and cultures because it is located in an area that borders Zambia, Botswana and Namibia, so they have grown up exposed to this diversity and it is something that they feel makes them stronger and richer,” added Gora.
According to Gora, the group is also proud of the country and its people, so much so that they see themselves as ambassadors through music.
As they travel around the world, they try in their own small way to market the country as a beautiful, safe destination for tourists and visitors.
The group has also recently announced that they will be performing at the World of Music, Arts and Dance (WOMAD) International Arts Festival that celebrates the world’s many forms of music, arts and dance to be held in July this year.
In October, Mokoomba will also perform in Stockholm, Sweden.
Gora took Patriot Arts down memory lane.
“As we grew as musicians, we would perform in local hotels and restaurants and also play for established musicians and mentors like the late Alfred Mjimba,” he said.
“In 2008, we won the Music Crossroads Interregional festival and that kick-started our band’s recording and touring career.
“Locally and internationally, music experts and critics noticed how immensely talented our band is both as a unit and also as individuals.”
Mokoomba’s songs are mostly about social issues that affect the band and the community they live in.
Most songs, said Gora, speak to the power of traditional wisdom and keeping traditional norms and values.
They also cover important subjects and themes, like love, loss, inheritance and respect for one another, taking care of our natural environment as well as the importance of education to the young people in our beloved country as we strive to build a healthy and prosperous nation.
Mokoomba has three albums to their name: Kweseka (2009), Rising Tide (2012) and Luyando (2017).