Stewart Sukuma

African and Brazilian rhythms are combined to create the infectious dance music of Mozambique-based guitarist and multilingual vocalist Stewart Sukuma (born: Louis Pereira). The recipient of a prestigious Ngoma Mozambique award in 1983, Sukuma has continued to be one of Southern Africa's leading performers. A native of Cuamba, a small village in the Mozambiquian state of Niassa, Sukuma grew up in the Portuguese-dominated region of Afrolusamerica. Receiving his first guitar at a charity celebration for children of impoverished family, he later taught himself to play percussion and keyboards, as well. For much of his career, Sukuma worked as a sideman. He toured with Orchestra Marrabenta Star de Mozambique at the end of the 1980s. His debut album Afrikiti, recorded in Johannesburg with musicians from Mozambique and South Africa, was not released until 1995. A portion of the proceeds from sales of the album was donated to environmental organizations. He remains actively involved with AIDS relief programs. The musical traditions of Mozambique continue to provide the foundation for Sukuma's music. In a late '90s interview, he explained: "Our music is deeply engrained in the rhythms of the people, because we were for a long time, for different reasons, and not least by the civil war, so well cut off from the remainder of the world." In addition to his native Portuguese, Sukuma sings in English, Coti, Chuabo, Swahili, Zulu, and Tsonga. His adopted name combines a Zulu word meaning "rising" and a Swahili word meaning "push." ~ Craig Harris

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