Othnell Mangoma Zimbabwe’s unsung international cultural export

Oftentimes we celebrate creative success by musicians and ignore the strides and work put in by instrumentalists and anyone working the backline. Such is true for one of Zimbabwe’s biggest cultural exports, a living legend who has defied many odds to carve his own narrative and instruments.

By Plot Mhako

Born and Bred in Nguboyenja Bulawayo Othnell Mangoma Moyo is an ethnomusicologist and craftsman, musician, folklore dancer and an actor. A multi-talented, internationally touring artist who makes 75% of the instruments he plays by himself.

Mangoma a bonafide national treasure plays folklore instruments and collaborates with a lot of Zimbabwean and International Artists who has represented his country in over thirty countries and in over 400 international festivals and venues and has been part of a record-breaking number of international musical collaborations.

The very humble artist and creative entrepreneur has committed his life to preserving and promoting Zimbabwe’s richly diverse cultural heritage and music legacy in an amazing way, passing on that tradition to his children who are also starting to follow the footsteps of their father.

A 2016 fellow of the US’s OneBeat program. A music exchange and incubator for music-based social entrepreneurship, where innovative musicians from around the world launch collaborative projects designed to make a positive impact on local and global communities run by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in collaboration with the groundbreaking New York-based music organization Bang on a Can’s Found Sound Nation.

Othnell leads the ensemble Music According to Percussion (MAP) a music ensemble from Zimbabwe which sets Percussion as the sole driver of its Music.

His CV speaks of a legend living amongst us whose journey and impact in the global creative and cultural space has not been fully appreciated and comprehended especially in his home-country.

He was taught to play Marimba (Xylophon) and Ngoma (Drums) by brother Osward Moyo at a very tender age and ventured into arts in 2001 at the iconic AMAKHOSI TOWNSHIP SQUARE CULTURAL CENTRE in Bulawayo which was founded by Cont Mhlanga.

Mangoma began playing and crafting Djembe and other African rooted drums in 2001, learnt to play Mbira in 2003 and took arts as a fulltime profession in December 2004.

He was involved in cultural programmes in Botswana from 2007-2009 under SIMBA ARTS (as musician dancer and actor and making Djembes for sale).

Played in Jo-burg South Africa along Sandra Ndebele, Sam Mtukudzi and Willom Tight in February 2008 as a percussionist.

Around that same year he toured France and Belgium in with AMAWUMBO DANCE COMPANY as musician and dancer.

Upon his return he worked on a a joint project with NDINGO JOHWA in Francistown Botswana in April 2009 as a percussionist before collaborating with ANAVARATA DANCE INSTITUTION in South Africa with KWABATSHA DANCE COMPANY in November-December 2009 also as a dancer and musician.

The following year in 2010 Mangoma toured South Africa and Mozambique with DUDU MANHENGA AND COLOR BLU in May and in October 2010 as a percussionist.

In July of 2011 he taught workshops and performances whilst on tour in Austria and Germany from May to July 2011. That same year he performed in Gyeongju, South Korea on Monday the 10th of October 2011 with Dudu Manhenga and Color Blu band and together they went on to perform in Italy in April 2012.

Dudu Manhenga, Color Blu

Unstoppable, Mangoma went on to teach workshops and hold performances in Germany in the beginning of the year 2012 then later Norway for a recording with Kullockcall and also conducted workshops there.

Performed at Umoja Festival 2012 in Maputo Mozambique, In 2013 – Toured Bazaruto Island, South Africa and Norway.

In 2014 he was in Lusaka Zambia with Josh Meck , Windhoek Namibia with Drum Cafe ,South Africa and Austria with Kunzwana #1 , Recororded Music According to Percussion Volume 1,Sadegna Italy with Dudu Manhenga and Color Blu and Enzo Favata, Signed an Endorsement deal with Duende Percussion,South Africa and Botswana with Oliver Mutukudzi

Year 2015 he was in Bazaruto Island with Drum Café, Initiated and Directed the first addition of TEN, 6 months in Turkey with the internationally renowned touring company Mother Africa.

In 2016 Mangoma went to Bazaruto Island with Drum Café, signed a publishing, distribution and Booking deal with Vadzimu Records, recorded Music According to Percussion Volume 2, spent 6 weeks creating and performing music in USA with 33 musicians from 17 different countries as part of the 1beat program. 

In 2017 he toured India in March to join Sadhana and Tritha Electric Band, Performed at HIFA 2017 Opening with Mahube (Oliver Mutukudzi, Steve Dyer, Josh Meck, Xixel Langston, Mbusi, Hope Masike, Cameron, Sam Mataure, Bokani Dyer, Siya), Was part of the first ever Mix the City in Africa which featured only 15 artists in Harare in April 2017, Was part of the Move on Project by the Italian Embassy in Zimbabwe in May 2017.

Mbira made by Mangoma

From 2017 Mangoma never stopped teaching, touring and making music. He kept on travelling and hosting concerts with his MAP ensemble and with a dozen of other artists. Recently he was in United Kingdom with as part of the John Pfumojena run project titled Meet My Ancestors which involved diversely talented Zimbabwean artists and was supported by Arts Council Lottery Fund with a residency at Battersea Arts Centre. The project included Kudzanai Chikowe aka Bboy KidTribe, Biliard Kambone aka Bboy Biliard, Raymond Mupfumira, Tawanda Mapanda, Takudzwa Mashonganyika aka ProBeatz.


Amakhosi (Zimbabwe)

Siyaya Arts(Zimbabwe)

Amawumbo Dance Company(Zimbabwe)

Tumbuka Dance Company(Zimbabwe)

Kwabatsha Dance Company (Zimbabwe )

Umoja Cfc (Mozambique,Norway, South Africa and Zimbabwe)

Dudu Manhenga(Zimbabwe)

Jeys Marabini(Zimbabwe)


Nkwali (Zimbabwe)

Simba Arts (Zimbabwe/Botswana)


Vee Mukarati (Zimbabwe)

Bongo love(Zimbabwe)

Drums of Peace (Zimbabwe)

Oliver Mtukudzi(Zimbabwe)

Hope Masike(Zimbabwe)

Chiwoniso Maraire(Zimbabwe)

Prudence Katomeni Mbofana( Zimbabwe)

Victor Kunonga(Zimbabwe)

Josh Meck(Zim/South Africa)

Willis Watafi(Zimbabwe)

Hugh Masekela(South Africa)

Steve Dyer(South Africa)

Bokani Dyer (South Africa

Muzila Malembe (Mozambique)

Judith Sephuma (South Africa)

Erick Wanaina (Kenya)

Lufuno Dagada(South Africa

ZimboIta(Zimbabwe /Italy)

Kullock Call(Zimbabwe /Norway)

Tari Ne Gitare(Zimbabwe)

Sandra Ndebele(Zimbabwe)

SOWE(Burkina Faso /Zimbabwe)

Chess Skhuza(Zimbabwe)



NAZ (Kazakhstan)

Mahube( South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique) 

Grand Ballet Agentinos (Agentina)

Colombian National Dance Company(Colombia)

Drum Café Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe)

Max Boussou(Senegal/Germany)

Dieter Waberpals(Germany )


National Ballet of Zimbabwe (DFC). (Zimbabwe)

Stewart Sekuma(Mozambique)

Albert Nyathi (Zimbabwe)

Sam Mutukudzi (Zimbabwe)

Bob Nyabinde(Zimbabwe)


Pastor G(Zimbabwe)

Matthias Mher(Zimbabwe)

Sebastian Magacha(Zimbabwe)

Suzanna Awiyo(Kenya)

Sulumani Chimbetu(Zimbabwe)

Alick Macheso(Zimbabwe)

Vocal Ex (Zimbabwe)

Cynthia Mare(Zimbabwe/UK)

Akua Naru(USA/Germany)

Alexio Kawara (Zimbabwe)

Ba’ Shupi(Zimbabwe)

Ammara Brown (Zimbabwe)

Dj Smoove(Trinidad/Zimbabwe)

Jam Signal((Zimbabwe)

Takalani Zimbabwe(Zimbabwe)

Ten Diamond(Zimbabwe)

Munya Mataruse (Zimbabwe)

Tafi Bass(Zimbabwe)

Zvidozvevanhu (Zimbabwe)

Real Deal(Zimbabwe)


Cool Crooners(Zimbabwe)

Miracle Missions(Zimbabwe)


Say Band(Zimbabwe)

Mega Praise( Zimbabwe)

David Machaka(Zimbabwe)


Vadima(Zimbabwe /South Africa)

Insingizi emnyana (Zimbabwe/Austria)

Rea Moyo (Zimbabwe)

The Team Radio drama (Zimbabwe)

Jazz Invitation(Zimbabwe)

Acoustic Dwellers (Zimbabwe)

Isitsha solwazi(Zimbabwe)

Vuka Africa(Zimbabwe)

Hloseni Arts(Zimbabwe)

Ilemu Arts(Zimbabwe)

Lovescent and Omanjevula(Zimbabwe)


Kasane Marimba Band(Botswana)

Sunduza (Zimbabwe)

Sylvia Mango Quartet(Italy)

Mzilikazi the musical (Zimbabwe)

Ivo Maia (Brazil/Mozambique)

Katia Guerreiro (Romania)

Diabloson Musiques D’Amerique Latine(Cuba)

Den Hari Tempong(Indonesia)

Mukta Raste (India) 

Tritha Sinha (India) 

Hriday Desai (India) 

One beat 2016( Artists from 17 different Countries)


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