Tanzanian band uses music as cross-cultural bridge to the world

Dubbed 'the Golden Voice of East Africa', Ngoma Africa band, is a Tanzanian band based in Germany and founded in 1993 by Ebrahim Makunja, aka Ras Ebby Makunja.

Ngoma Africa Band on stage. Photo courtesy of Ngoma Africa band
Ngoma Africa Band on stage. Photo courtesy of Ngoma Africa band

The live performances of the 10-member group, known for its signature danceable music, Bongo Dansi or Mziki Wa Dansi, has garnered rave accolades from numerous festivals and passionate applause from European fans. In August 2012, Ngoma Africa Band received the International Diaspora Award (IDA) at the 2012 International African Festival Tübingen in Germany for their work in promoting East African music throughout Europe.

Ngoma Africa Band is famous for staging thrilling shows in festivals in different parts of Europe. The band’s joyful female dancers, wearing traditional costumes and dancing vigorously to their tunes, always leave fans asking for more. The band's music is dynamic. This, the band says is as a result of fusion between modern and traditional elements. This approach has enabled them create a completely irresistible dancing groove and hypnotic sounds that makes fans go wild whenever the band performs.

The band has gained the reputation similar to that of a cultural institution or music academy, as the current band members were once fans who adored the band. For instance, the youngest soloist Matondo Benda and even the drummer Jo Sousa (aka Sergeant Major Jo Sousa) and Gayle Mayimona were formerly fans who always followed the band wherever it performed. Over the years members of the band have also included Flora William, Jessicha Ouyah, Sarah Fina, Glory Mundeke, Aj Nbongo, Mo Benda and Chris-B Bakotessa. Though they have been around for more than two decades, the band’s best-known  album is Mama Kimwaga (Sugar Mummy) which includes the singles 'Apache Wacha Pombe' (Stop Over-Drinking Alcohol) and 'Anti-Corruption Squad'. In 2010 they released a song in praise of the then Tanzanian president, Jakaya Kikwete. Among their many other singles are songs like 'Bongo Tambare' and ‘Uhuru wa habari’ (freedom of the press)

Meanwhile, the band continues to tour across Europe. In 2015 they have already made stops at Vechelde Festival and the International African Festival Tübingen in Germany. The band is looking forward to going on a world tour to spread its unique brand of music.



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