The musicians of Simonga are based in Siachilaba. The group 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 the last century. He was the grandfather of Jossam Sialwindi Munkuli, the present leader of Simonga and the keeper of the horns in Siachilaba today.
Simonga cannot be defined as a self-contained performing arts group with founding members who began operations in a specific year; rather it represents a fluid tradition that has been inherited from manz 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.
The Valley Tonga have a tradition of composers, those who invent music speficially for the buntibe. Siachilaba´s most distinguished composer in recent years was Siankwede Bokotela Mudenda.
Siankwede once explained that both the words and the music for his compositions came to him in dreams and werepassed on to him bz the masabe (ancestral spirits). Siankwedeäs music is typical of the ngoma buntibe repertoire; most of his songs are warnings about the exposure of socially unacceptable behaviour.
Listen to an example of Siankwede´s composition, Siamubbula:
Performed by Simonga
Recorded at Siachilaba in March 1997 by Bert Estl