by Yeukai Moyo
Mokoomba – an Afro-fusion and traditional Tonga rhythms band reached their target of “crowd funding” last month after being selected by Africa Unsigned – a Netherlands based funding project that provides innovative strategies to upcoming artists.
Africa Unsigned, founded by Pim Betist, works with artists and bands selected by a panel of African music experts like Baba Maal, Damon Albarn, Tony Allen and Angela Angweni.
Mokoomba becomes the first Zimbabwean band to use “crowd funding”, a new phenomenon designed to help bands record EPs and tour Europe with funding/investment from fans who become share-holders in the projects.
The Victoria Falls-based band was commended for showing the way forward for a new generation of musicians, who are often disheartened by music industry challenges.
Band manager Marcus Gora said, “In Zimbabwe, upcoming bands are finding it difficult to get started let alone survive as the local music industry is besieged by major challenges largely due to dwindling CD sales.
“It has been a comfortable position to blame all the industry ills on piracy, but new models are now required to ensure that not only is good and new music recorded but also effectively delivered to the market. Mokoomba are giving a strong example,” he added.
Through crowd funding, young bands like Mokoomba are now making world class recordings, collaborating with international artists and producers and reaching wide local and international audiences.
The multi-talented band sings in Tonga, Nyanja, Lubale, Ndebele and recently Shona and English. They are winners of Music Crossroads Inter-regional Festival prize 2008, The Stand Up Take Action – End Poverty Campaign competition prize 2009.
They have recorded an incredible debut album titled Kweseka-Drifting Ahead and have toured Europe and Africa extensively as well as being a regular feature at local and regional festivals and music venues. Recently Mokoomba was featured on premier world music radio and magazine website Afropop Worldwide in its compilation of the best of WOMEX (World Music Expo) selection from 2000-2010.
Other Zimbabwean artists on Africa Unsigned are Rina Mushonga and Victor Kunonga.