My first encounter with Mutombo the Poet was on twitter after he had tweeted a question about where the creators of the Whatsapp emoticons came from. The following conversation ensued : @KateNkansa: Mutombo, their designs are very Asian. Many of the emoticons on from Whatsapp are common in Asia His Response… @MutomboDaPoet: We all know this. You want me to know that you know? ‘Needless to say I was not impressed with his comments so I retaliated.’ @KateNkansa: Why the aggression? You asked who the creators were. He’s probably some Asian dude. I was just responding. @MutomboDaPoet: Oh don’t mind me oh. If you take me seriously, you will find me crying. You’re right they are Asians, I think one looks like a Malay or? And that is my first exchange with Mutombo. I had the pleasure of seeing his performance at the Wolf Pack Entertainment’s Spoken Word Event and sat down with him to interview him about his work as a poet a few days later. At Feint & Margin we do a Spotlight feature on Young African’s who are using their talents and expertise to promote a positive social change. Mutombo’s work carries a powerful message. His poems teach us to be proud of our heritage as Africans, it reminds and teaches us about our history and compels us to reflect on our attitudes and self worth as Young Africans. Below is our interview with Ghana’s Mutombo Da Poet. Kate Nkansa [KN]: Who is Mutombo Da Poet? Mutombo Da Poet [MDP]: Mutombo Da Poet is a seasoned spoken word artist in Ghana. I Started performing publicly in 2006 and have graced so many stages in the country. KN: How did you get the name Mutombo? MDP: I got the name Mutombo from playing Basketball. I play basketball a whole lot and people said I looked and play like Dikembe Mutombo an NBA player… KN: How did you start? When did you realise that poetry could be a career you could pursue? MDP: I did literature when I was in Accra Academy and I had love for the English Language unlike Math. During these times, even though we did poems, I didn’t really love the poems I was studying because of the ‘old English’. I had this notepad that I called SCRibbles and in this, I wrote my thoughts and other raps. But with all these, I didn’t take it seriously, it was after secondary school that a friend of mind gave me a Def Poetry CD to listen. I did and I told myself, ‘this is what I really want to do!’ So I started writing serious spoken words and performed at the Lyricist Lounge which was an open mic thing at Bus Stop. After my 1st performance, the organizer, Kweku Ananse who was a DJ at Vibe fm then came to me and was like he wanted to work with me, the following week, he invited me to his show to perform and this beautiful journey started. KN: That’s a great story. Tell us about your journey as a poet. When you started performing what were some of the things you were writing about? MDP: I remember my first poem was about Slavery but I wrote about politics a whole lot, then I branched into Social Issues, Religion and any other topic that gained my attention but I hardly talk about love because it has been a common topic for poets running centuries back…but I will say I basically write about anything that tickles me. KN: Feint and Margin is doing interview series called spotlight, where we feature Africans using their talent and career to promote social change. does your poetry impact or change how your audience perceives things? MDP: That is my main aim when I am writing a poem. I always aim at correcting issues with simple words, I believe my voice is a powerful tool and I will choose my voice over any weapon on any day. I have a poem that talks about bleaching, I have talked about domestic violence, I have talked about religion, I have a poem on the pleasures of being an African and so many other topics like Migration and Friends. After shows, I get people always coming to me to tell me how my words got them thinking. I have never left a show without getting comments before. And if you have not seen me perform then I guess you have to get a copy of my first spoken word album Photosentences and you will realized the powerful words intertwined throughout all the 13 tracks. KN: I’ve listened to all 13 tracks and it is a powerful album. It also got me thinking… What’s in your view is the most powerful poem on the album? How can our readers in Ghana get a hold of Photosentences? And what about our readers in other countries? MDP: I don’t have a favorite on the album. Each track means something to me and speaks to me in a unique way but I really enjoyed writing Paddies and Talking Drums and the most difficult was the 10 Regions. I love all the tracks. Those who have bought the album also like different tracks which they like but the Unborn Talks seems to be on top of the list for fans. for now the album is at the Accra Mall and Sytris bookshop in Osu. More outlets will be announced soon and for those in other countries, it will be available of Bandcamp.com where they can buy it. Online sales starts on Monday 30th April,2012 KN: You mentioned during our chat that you don’t write about love, because so many poets have exhausted the topic. Are you in a relationship? MDP: Yes I am in a relationship. KN: Do you write love poems for your lady? MDP: I find it hard to express myself when it comes to love, so no, I have never written a poem for any lady before. I can do it if I try. KN: How many countries have you performed in? What is the highlight of your career? MDP: I am yet to perform out of my country and that is happening this year. My focus was on finishing my album (photosentences). It’s not done so I am ready to perform on stages in different countries. I have gone through over a 100 shows and so many radio and TV interviews and performances in Ghana, and it will be difficult to choose a ‘highlight’. But the one I fondly remember was when I performed live on TV3 twice in 2007.I was a guest on the Mentor Show. I mean, it was a live show and I enjoyed my performance so well especially after going through that period when I was tensed up before getting on the stage. KN: Which African countries would you like to perform? Do you follow other poets work? If so who are your top 3 poets (living or dead)? MDP: I have my eyes set on Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria and Zimbabwe for now. But I wouldn’t mind travelling throughout Africa to perform. I used to follow poets at the beginning but now, I don’t listen to any of them because I believe i will be influenced subliminally if I keep on listening to these poets. I want to maintain the way I sound and my sound. Even though I loved listening to Taalam Acey,Saul Williams and J Ivy, I don’t do anymore KN: If you weren’t Mutombo Da Poet, who would you be? MDP: I have never thought of that. I know its God plan so tomorrow, I might be off spoken words or I will write and perform poetry until my dying day. I studied computers Science in School. I’m a Microsoft certified system engineer. It might be of use one day or might not be of use at all. It All depends on God but I love doing poetry because it is something that I enjoy doing. What is better than doing something that you really love? KN: Earlier in our interview you talked about the sort of issues you address through your poetry. We are in election year in Ghana and already there has been some tension coming from both sides of the political divide. What are your views about politics in Africa and particularly Ghana? MDP: I don’t pay attention to politics so much here in Ghana and for that matter Africa in general because it’s mediocre. I know our democracy is still growing but some of the arguments I hear sometimes on radio and on TV are childishness don’t face facts and are not real when it comes to politics. Because they belong to a certain political party, they follow everything that party does even if it means bloodshed. People need to be discerning when it comes to politics, they should criticise the leader when he goes wrong. By doing this, our nation grows. You can visit Mutombo’s Facebook Page or follow him on Twitter to find out more about this prolific entertainer and Poet.
- A Modern African Civilisation
- Naa Shika