Simonga - The Ngoma Buntibe Group from Siachilaba

The ngoma buntibe group at Siachilaba takes its name from the composer (mwimbi), called Simonga, who fled with his relatives from fighting chiefs in Zambia to Siachilaba sometime towards the beginning of this century. He was the grandfather of Sialwindi Munkuli, the present leader of Simonga and the keeper of the horns in central Siachilaba today. Simonga cannot be defined as a self-contained performing arts group with founding members who began operations in a specific year; instead, it represents a fluid tradition that has been inherited from many previous generations and which is being passed on in a similar manner to those who are to inherit it. Nevertheless, although the musicians all perform other day-to-day functions within the community, the playing of the horns and drums does require the acquisition of specialised skills.

In 1994, Simonga presented a performance of Valley Tonga buntibe music as part of a Festival Trail, the last segment of the Houses of Stone Festival organised by KUNZWANA Trust.

In 1995, a similar event took place as part of a cultural safari organised by members of the Austria-Zimbabwe Friendship Association in Linz, Austria in conjunction with KUNZWANA.

The Valley Tonga have a tradition of composers, those who invent music specifically for the buntibe. Siachilaba's most distinguished living composer is Siankwede. Both the words and the music for his compositions come to him in dreams and are passed to him by the masabe ancestral spirits. Siankwede's music is typical of the nyele repertoire: most of his songs are warnings about and exposure of socially unacceptable behaviour, in particular the revelation of murder.

Simonga is one of three ngoma buntibe groups in the area of Siachilaba.

The composer for the neighbouring buntibe team at the fishing camp of Sinamatelele is Peter Mwembe, whose composition, Toende Tukulime, became the basis for part of the electro-acoustic composition by Keith Goddard which is featured as part of the composition project in Six Reflections on Tonga Music.