Mookomba in Studio 4 April 6, 2016. Studio 4 at the Voice of America in Washington DC.
In 2012 I discovered Mokoomba through by way of the common internet surf. The young Tongan group from northern Zimbabwe were making a smashing impression on the international music scene.
They had just released their 2nd album Rising Tide in May 2012 under the musical direction of Ivorien musician, Manou Gallo and were wrapping up their third European tour.
They showcased at WOMEX (WOrld Music EXpo) in Thessaloniki, Greece that October. The Director of their Brussels-based label at the time, Zig Zag World, described them as “A roller coaster ride of raw Afro fusion energy.”
Now four years later on April 6, 2016 I have the whole group sitting in front of me poised to perform a one-on-one, 30-minute set. This their first time in the US and they had arrived only a few days prior to perform at the Apollo Theater in New York for the 2016 Africa Now showcase.
As you’ll see in the session below Mokoomba’s energy is indeed a thrilling ride; Afro fusion or otherwise. Many Zimbabweans and other African journalists here at VOA who snuck up to Studio 4 to catch a moment of the session, remarked that they their music doesn’t sound typically Zimbabwean.
Later that night I attended Mokoomba’s concert at The Hill Center. They venue only seated 100 people but it was packed. The eclectic crowd were enchanted. I was too, even though I’d spent a good part of the afternoon with them. The open stage ignited them because dancing is a fundamental part of their music. In the confines of the VOA studio, they were unable to express themselves to their fullest. The finale brought the excited crowd to their feet to dance and shout and show off. This clip captures just a fragment of the magic Mokoomba brought to The Hill Center.