Mokoomba: Luyando

Back to the Sources

Listening Post 100. The first album from the Zimbabwean band Mokoomba, released in 2012, was a rock-oriented disk with an urban, pan-African orientation. But tradition was embedded in the group’s name—Mokoomba means “respect for the river”—and their second album, Luyando (Mother’s Love), is a gentler, more acoustic collection devoted to the history and culture of the band’s home territory, the Zambezi river valley. Built on the vibrant voice of lead singer Mathias Muzaza (singing mostly in Luvale and Tonga, languages spoken in northern Zimbabwe), on lush harmonies and on the dazzling guitar of Trustworth Samende, the six-man combo delivers songs of incomparable exuberance. There’s an elegant gait to Kumukanda (Initiation Camp), a series of ritual declarations of belonging, starting with, “Those who are not initiated are not welcome” (video 1). Another collective experience—the trials of a traveling band—animates Kulindiswe (Yearning for Home): “My heart is missing home,” they sing, “I have been away too long” (video 2). More poignant, yet hopeful and defiant, is Kambowa (Orphan), about the large-scale displacement and family separation caused by a dam project on the Zambezi in the 1950s (video 3). Njawane (I Saw It) offers advice to young hunters about how to stay calm in the presence of a lion (video 4). The album has two tracks devoted to women—the a cappella courtship song Nyaradzo (sung in Shona, Zimbabwe’s predominant language) and the title track, expressing a son’s lifelong debt for material protection—plus Mokole (Smoke That Thunders) about the beauty and life force of Victoria Falls, the largest volume waterfall on earth. From land to river to mothers, Mokoomba soars by going back to the sources. (Outhere Records)







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