Best known for his unique style of rhumba worship, lyrics and music, Jojo Mwangaza (above) is arguably the pioneer of the genre in Zambia. The Congolese born singer/songwriter, whose repertoire includes the albums ‘Tehila’, ‘Rejoice, Relax Jehovah Is In Control’, and ‘Hakuna Matata na Yesu’, was nominated for a Kora Award for Best Spiritual Male Artist. He left Zambia in 2006 to pursue his music, as well as an academic career in Norway.
Last in Zambia in December 2009, Mwangaza returned to the country last Saturday to minister at the annual Bread of Life Word Explosion Conference. On the cusp of releasing his next career album, Mwangaza spoke about recent developments in his life and ministry.
Q. What have you been doing since your last visit to Zambia, in terms of ministry?
A. Everything’s moving well by the grace of God. I was working on my latest project which is finished, it’s going to be out, I think next week if everything goes as planned. So far everything is perfect. It’s good for me to be back in Zambia. This is my place. I’m happy.
Q. In which city are you based in Norway?
A. I live two hours from Oslo.
Q. Apart from the music, is there anything else you’re doing in Norway?
A. Yes, yes I’m doing machine engineering – that’s the other side of Jojo, I’m not just a musician. I’m trying to finish up with my studies.
Q. Have you kept in touch with the local music ministry?
A. Yes, yes. I always keep in touch, I call people and I always check on Zambian gospel music. That’s a passion I have, something that I’m carrying in my heart for Zambian gospel music, so I try to do my best where I can.
Q. You mentioned that you’re studying machine engineering
A. Yes, in two years I’m doing my masters. I’ve been studying it for a long time.
Q. Do you intend to go into mechanical engineering full time after you complete your masters, or will you continue with the ministry?
Right now I work in Norway too, but that’s just the other side of life. In the ministry I’m full time.
Q. Concerning the new project, this is your latest project after ‘Hakuna Matata na Jesu’. What can you tell us about it?
A. This album is a process I started with ‘Jehovah Is In Control’, ‘4×4’ and ‘Hakuna Matata’. It’s like a movie so it’s not yet the end. The project is like I’m in a place where I said, “Watch me, nkumbu yaisula (my cup runneth over)”. That means this is what the Lord is doing now in my life. The album is talking about this guy that everybody did not consider as somebody with value, but today God has done something new for him, and this guy just changes.
Q. Are we going to see a Zambia launch at some point?
A. Yes before December I’ve got so many things to do here. I have a long programme before December.
Q. How was your experience the last time you were here having been away for some time?
A. It was wonderful- people were blessed. Even myself I was blessed because the ministry was powerful. I could see the hand of God in the concert wherever we went Ndola, Kitwe, here in Lusaka everybody was happy. It was wonderful.
Q. You’re considered a pioneer in terms of the type of gospel music that you perform in Zambia. What do you consider the future of this type of music in this country?
A. Artists in Zambia have to keep a picture of Zambia in their music because the music has to sound like Zambian gospel music. They must have a special tune for Zambia, not something copied.
Q. What do you do in your spare time, beyond music?
A. I play tennis and I’m a fan of watching golf too much.