Kanda Bongo Man inspires new Bitumba

By Sharon Kavhu

HARARE-RISING Zimbabwean rhumba musician, Wellington ‘Bitumba’ Maruta of Musique d’Africa, says his new album set for release next month is inspired by Congolese legend, Kanda Bongo Man.

The new album, titled ‘Bitumba Comes Home’ is set for release next month at Pariah State in Borrowdale, Harare.

The album is a fusion of half a dozen languages including Shona (Zimbabwe), Lingala (Democratic Republic of Congo), Swahili (Tanzania), Bemba (Zimbabwe), Zulu (South Africa) and Tswana (Botswana).

Bitumba told The Southern Times that his new album will spark a revival of the rhumba genre, which is playing second fiddle to sounds like house music, sungura, dancehall and gospel in Zimbabwe.

“Rhumba is one of the music genres that are suffocating in Zimbabwe. Although the genre was adapted from the DRC, it used to prevail a few years ago,” said Bitumba.

“When I was working on the songs for my fourth album, I considered all these factors so that I bring satisfaction to the rhumba lovers who have been starved for quite some time.

“Getting my inspiration mostly from Kanda Bongo Man, who produces lively music that gets people on their feet, I composed and produced music which is different from the other three albums I released previously.

“Kanda Bongo Man is such an inspiration, especially with the fact that his rhumba music cuts across all ages and his love lyrics are rich.”

He said, the new album is themed on love and appreciation of the things that God does for people on a daily basis.

“Love is a theme that can be related to by anyone, whether someone is heartbroken, in love or wishes to be in love, the theme maintains its relevance.  As such, I packed my love and gospel themes in different languages that will see audiences in Zimbabwe, Botswana, Tanzania and DRC relating to the music.”

Bitumba is an ethnomusicologist and teaches music at Morgan Zintec Teachers College.

He formed his band in 2013, teaming up with former band members of Lubumbashi Stars – Mbala Dody Kaninda, Papa Uncle John and instrumentalists from Real Sounds.

On his vocals, he is accompanied by Papa Mbala Kaninda, Kapiya and Eric Chido from DRC; drums by Patric Ndau, bass guitar by Jacques Ngazimi and John Mupela on rhythm guitar.

In 2013, he released his first single ‘Wenge Uripi?’ which was followed by his first album ‘Rwemandorokwati’.  Soon after, the overwhelming air play from public radio stations in Zimbabwe motivated him to release his second album dubbed ‘Makorokoto’ in 2015 and ‘Wedenga’ early this year.