Mokoomba dances their way into CSPS!
By Mark Hilton
Photo by Charles “Rain” Black
Mokoomba are joy embodied. The young, exuberant group from the Victoria Falls region of Zimbabwe, well into their first extensive U.S. tour, made a stop at CSPS on Friday, August 1. The six-piece band was only midway through their first song when a few brave audience members left their seats and began to dance. By the third song, a sizable contingent turned the wings of CSPS Hall into a dance floor.
This result was expected; Mokoomba’s music almost requires you to dance. The young men of the group describe their sound as Afro-fusion, a blend of traditional Tonga rhythms with more modern touches of funk and reggae. The band cites Victoria Falls and its lively, diverse music scene as the impetus for their varied sound. Trustworth Samende (guitar), Abundance Mutori (bass), Miti Mugande (percussion), Donald Moyo (keyboards), and Ndaba Coster Moyo (drums) are all phenomenal musicians, and they play with the tightness of a band that’s been performing together for a long time. Mathias Muzaza, the band’s lead singer, has a powerful voice that breaks up into an exquisite rasp when he extends it. When the rest of the band joins in to harmonize with him, the sound is utterly blissful. Just don’t expect to understand the band’s lyrics, which are predominantly sung in Tonga, a language little-spoken outside of their home region.
The inability for the audience to understand their lyrics doesn’t inhibit them from enjoying Mokoomba’s jubilant and dynamic show. After being on the road for so long, the band is eager to return home, though you wouldn’t know it from their highly athletic performance, which included numerous synchronized dance moves. Mokoomba never stops moving to their own groove. For their last song, Mathias gestured an invitation for the audience to leave their seats and join them in a dance; the packed audience was more than willing to accept Mathias’ invitation. Mokoomba’s sound and energy is infectious and the CSPS audience was eager to share in the joy.