Jambo! The Matrida Umoga Band is made up of Congolese refugees now living in San Diego, California. This group of amazing, accomplished musicians, led by singer Matrida David, has begun performing around California and is available for community and private events. Their lovely, joyful music, sung in Swahili, English and other African languages, along with their delightful stage show, gets their audiences up on their feet to dance, smile, laugh, sing and enjoy beautiful “umoja” (unity) together.
The members started creating and playing music together in the Nyarugusu Refugee Camp in the Kigoma region of Tanzania more than 20 years ago. Matrida David (Ngyuku Taledshiwe), the group’s founder, songwriter and lead singer, started singing and performing gospel music at age 7. By the time she was 17, she was the leader of the refugee camp’s 100-member Umoja church choir. She wrote and recorded music, taught the singers, organized shows, and served as the lead singer in many performances in the camp and the region.
Matrida was accepted into the UN’s refugee assistance program and moved to the United States with her children in 2016, settling in San Diego. She has continued to write and produce new music with the band members that are still in the Kigoma camp, sending digital files back and forth for recording. She has also formed a band here locally with talented Congolese friends – The Matrida Umoja Band – that has begun performing at church, community, and private events.
Matrida’s goals for the coming year are to spread love, happiness, spirituality and community by sharing her original and traditional Congolese music. She plans to use her musical gifts to lead a fundraising effort to support her family and friends that have been left behind in the Nyarugusu camp, including a group of 120 orphans and 80 widows.