Africa has been a source of inspiration for music culture and fashion. I stumbled across interesting music collective call Team Kumba. Team Kumba is a group of six young multi-disciplinary artists on a mission “to change or to challenge the music industry in Rwanda and within the region”.
Formed about six months ago, the group comprises two DJs, a drummer, two dancers, and a videographer.
“Team Kumba is a group of young music lovers. We are different artists with different backgrounds – dance, photography, videography, music, but at the end of the day, we are all passionate about music,” revealed Jacques Nkinzingabo, who goes by the moniker of DJ Motari in Team Kumba
“Our main goal is to promote the African drum within the music and within the society because it’s the basic music instrument in Africa,” he added.
Nkinzingabo is a popular freelance photographer in Kigali, and the founder of the Kigali Center For Photography, based in Kacyiru.
“We want to do a lot of community projects, and a lot of things that challenge other young people. We want to challenge fellow DJs in Rwanda, but not as a competition. We want to show them that there is more to do as a DJ. Through the Day Club project, we take the music to people who are not able to go to nightclubs, to parties and to events for various reasons. We go to the communities, the villages, set up and play music for them.”
DJ Kavumbi, born Christian Hirwa, is the other disc spinner in Team Kumba. As Hirwa Chris, aka Popping Chris, he is a popular contemporary dancer in Kigali, specialising in Hip hop and African styles.
“I started DJ-ing around 2012. I worked somewhere for a short while then quit. But recently I decided to start afresh.”
His stage moniker, Kavumbi, is Kinyarwanda for dust, and he explains the particular choice of name:
“I decided to call myself Kavumbi to reflect the music that we play. It’s more hyped, so people dance, jump, they crawl, kicking up dust.”
Similarly, Nkinzingabo looked to moto taxis (motorcycle taxis) to come up with his stage name, Motari.
“The music that I play, and the people that I want to play for, I want to drive them crazy. I want to give them hype and vibe. I like the Moto taxi guys because they never give up. They just come up to you and ask if you need a ride.”
Nkinzingabo is only returning to a craft he first embarked on in 2007, before quitting in 2011 to focus more on photography. Known then as DJ Yakubu, he even released a Hip-hop song titled Icyerekezo.
“I grew up around musicians and have always loved music. So we are getting back to doing the things we wanted to do when we were still young but could not at the time.”
So far, the team has performed a handful of DJ gigs around Kigali, a few upcountry, and one in Kampala, Uganda.
Team Kumbaalso has a dance department with two dancers, Isaac Shema, and Amani Kiwembe, both affiliated to the Abatanguha Dance Crew.
“I am an urban traditional dancer in Kigali who uses my art form to exchange and spread dance as an art form, by teaching and performing around the country. At first, Team Kumba was concentrating on DJ-ing and photography, then I created the department of dance to introduce new dance and music in our communities.”
Eric Murinzi is the group’s videographer, producer, and drummer. “I decided to join because I’m very passionate about music. I grew up playing drums in church, which led me to the passion for music.”
The team was quite busy in the festive season, playing at several house parties and private events in Kigali. They played at the popular Inema Happy Hour on the last Thursday of 2018. Their latest gig was at an event called Underground Chaos in Kampala.
They have already been booked for the Ubuntu Rave, a bi-monthly music event in Kampala in March.
Words: Ash Allibhai