August 2020 – February 2021
Johannesburg >> Kinshasa
Nkamba, “The New Jerusalem” and grounds of the Kimgunguist Church, is located 225 km from Kinshasa. Built on a small hill with huts consisting of dwelling houses, watch posts, a large staircase, the mausoleum of the Prophet Simon Kimbangu, the Temple with its two towers, and the village of Ngombe-Kinsuka to the west.
The Kimbunguist Church overcame 40 years of persecution to become the largest independent church in Africa. The first church in the third world that was not founded by missionaries. It has given expression to Congolese cultural forms at a time when missionary-founded churches were slow in recognizing the need for indigenous liturgies and the development of local leaders.
FAKI (Fanfare Kimbunguist) is the Kimbunguist Brass Band originally created in 1959 by Papa Simon Kimbangu’s son, Papa Joseph Diangienda Kutima when he was leading the Kimbunguist church as Head of the Church and Spiritual leader in memory of his father. It is a fanfare musical group which uses diverse musical instruments to spread Christian gospel. Gospel songs are inspired by God through the voice of angels and the final musical touch is made by FAKI which only enable them to define the characteristics of musical sound: pitch, duration, dynamics and timbre required to form the backbone of the musical work in its temporal; both melodically and harmonically as they have been received.
The original goal of the project was for two Johannesburg-based musicians – Trevor Smith, a musician and music educator, and Simon Bazeyedio, a Congolese trumpet player who was raised within the Kimbunguist culture and brass band training – to travel to DRC to interact with, perform alongside, and notate the FAKI repertoire of inspired songs. The aim of the project being to preserve this unique cultural heritage and enable an opportunity to share it in notation form with a South African brass band for performance; to allow it to exist outside of the borders of Congo DRC, transform and blend within another context; share and open up opportunities of musical collaboration and performance.
Although the main outcome of the project remains unchanged, due to COVID restrictions the duration of the project has had to shift to August 2020 to end February 2021. Having to forego the travel to Kinshasha and further into central DRC Congo to visit the main church in Nkamba where the songs are received and formed, the music has been transcribed from recordings, notated and performed by Brass Roots, a local brass band formed for the development of emerging young brass players. The project will be finalized in video format of the South African performance conducted and led by Simon Bazeyidio including added conversations with the South African musicians.
Trevor Smith is a Canadian born South African citizen. He is a committed teacher and lecturer, teaching students from various social and cultural backgrounds, and Project Coordinator for Poetso Music Projects – a prison outreach for youth in prison. He has performed in the SAMA nominated band Niemand, received mention in the Rough Guide to African Music as part of Sigauque and composed for advertisement, documentary, visual art and contemporary dance. He has just recently completed his studies in Public Management and Development at the WITS school of Governance and as a student, and lecturer of music composition, it is his desire to understand, analyse, notate and preserve the wonder of diverse music; furthering developmental opportunities of performance and cultural inter-relations.
Simon Bazeyidio is an outstanding jazz trumpeter, having performed with the likes of Mark Dube, Kevin Davidson and Bheki Khoza. Born in Nkamba in the DRC, the church brass band environment contributed to his sense of music. This love for music brought him to Tshwane University of Technology where he majored in jazz performance and studied privately with the great Bruce Cassidy of Blood, Sweat and Tears. He has recorded with the John Davies Big band, Phat Brass; and released a CD with the group Zase Mzantsi entitled “Echoes”. He also played a large foundational role in the Thakhula Music Foundation which provides music education in Thohoyandou, Limpopo to underprivileged communities such as Tshivhulani Village. He is currently a teacher, ensemble director and composer, with a desire to arranging and preserve the music of his Kimbanguist background.