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A collective of musicians from South Africa and Malawi have come together to expand the tradition of Southern African jazz made popular by the likes of Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, Oliver Mtukudzi, Letta Mbulu,Wambali Mkandawire and more.  The phrase ‘ngoma zethu’ comes from various Bantu languages of East, Central and Southern Africa, philosophically it means ‘our way of life.’ This unique musical project offers the listener a journey into African tradition, humanity, consciousness, philosophy, mythology, spirituality, and history. Masauko, Mongezi and Yolanda have been performing and recording together for over 10 years.

Masauko Chipembere

Photo by Syd Woodward

Monghezi Ntaka

Photo by Katalina Kavocs

Yoli Zama

Photo by Saleen Saleh


Masauko is a Malawian-American singer/songwriter, born in Los Angeles while his parents were in exile. His sound blends Southern African traditional music, jazz, folk, funk, hip hop and reggae. Masauko is known for strong songs and a great vocal range. Audiences usually find themselves singing along at live shows. 

Masauko lived in Malawi and South Africa studying traditional music. He is famous in South Arica for his acoustic duo, Blk Sonshine with Neo Muyanga.They blend Southern African music with hip hop and jazz. Masauko performed for Nelson Mandela and became 46664 Ambassador in 2005. He has shared stages Stevie Wonder and Queen. In 2019 He released his fist self titled solo album "MASAUKO" through Guayaki Yerba Mate's Come to Life music. 

"Ndikonda Mawa by Ngoma Zethu" ft Masauko
"Come to Life Music" Presents Masauko
Mausauko CD Cover




Mongezi Ntaka is a South African guitarist, composer, arranger, musical director and producer based in Washington, DC. His guitar playing incorporates several Southern African music styles including Kwela, Marabi, Mbaqanga, Mbira, African Jazz and Township music. He has recorded, toured and performed with a wide range of South African and other African artists including the late Lucky Dube, Vusi Mahlasela, the late Hugh Masekela, Jonnas Gwangwa, Dave Mathews, Ray Phiri, Thandi Klaasen, Lorraine Klaasen, the late Oliver Mtukudzi and Habib Koite. His live performances have taken him to all corners of the globe including most parts of Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, The Caribbean, North America and South America. He is currently Vusi Mahlasela and Lorraine Klaasen’s musical director.

"Nyakanyaka by Ngoma Zethu" featuring Mongezi Ntaka
Ngoma Zethu CD Cover




Yoli Zama is a South African born singer and songwriter. A young political exile during Apartheid, she honed her voice amid the urban sounds of Harlem in the 80s. Weaving her native language of isiXhosa with English, Yoli Zama fuses the lush and organic textures of Southern African music with the vibrant and dynamic melodies of folk and soul to create a sound that is at once unique and transcendent. She credits Miriam Makeba, Busi Mhlongo, Joni Mitchell, and Tracy Chapman with having the greatest influence on her music. Yoli currently resides in Brooklyn, New York, and is working on an EP. 

"Yoli Zama at the Apollo"
"Sangweni" Yoli Zama, Masauko, Sinethemba
Yoli Zama - "Mama" - NPR Tiny Desk Contest


Mongezi Ntaka, Music from the Apartheid era
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