Mutombo is a multi-talented artist who specializes in spoken word poetry.
He has blessed several stages since he started his beautiful art form. The list of major shows he has performed includes Portrait of an Excellent Woman 2008, which took place at the National Theatre. He has also performed live twice on TV3 at the Mentor 3 reality show in June and August 2007. Apart from these, he was also a guest performer at the Face of Legon 2006, which was held at the Conference Centre in Accra. His performance as a guest artist at the just passed Miss Legon 2009 was one to remember. He is a resident poet at Bless da Mic which takes place every Thursdays at Baze Lounge, Osu.
Apart from these numerous shows, Mutombo has also written for several artists and has also performed at graduation ceremonies and the likes. The journey is not ending soon.
Five Questions with Mutombo:
1. How long have you been writing poetry?
I have been writing poetry for a couple of years now. At first, I had a whole book that I titled, "My Thoughts". It basically contained things that occurred to me daily. I would just pick up a pen, open "My Thoughts" and jot down things that come to me. I would write about my Mum's funeral, my friends and sometimes about what I think my soul looks like. Yes, I wrote about weird stuff and I don't want to talk about some of the eerie things I wrote about. I started writing poetry when I got to Secondary School. I did literature and also wrote some rap songs. This was in 1997. I tried rapping what I wrote but I sounded weak with the way I flowed my lines. This was when I fell in love with poetry. At first I was writing poems just for fun and just for my books. Somewhere in 2006, I started performing them. What I do is Spoken Word!! So from 2006 I started taking this art form seriously.
2.Who are your favorite poets? Which poets have most informed and inspired your work?
The first poet I ever listened to is Maya Angelou. At that time the internet wasn't so popular like it is now so we would dwell on books and other magazines for information. Luckily, Maya was the only poet I came across and I saw her on TV performing, too. She inspired me in a great way even though I describe her style as the 'classical' form of poetry. The internet came around and I discovered so many poets who have inspired me in so many ways. Some of my favourite poets now are Saul Williams, Black Ice, Taalam Acey, Gil Scott-Heron, J Ivy and Mahogany Browne. All of these spoken word artist have helped me in so many ways.
3.What do you hope to accomplish with your poetry?
I want to journey with this art form God has given me until my death. I want to change the minds of the people of this world through poetry.I am already performing at shows. My 'big' performance was the Miss Legon 2009 that took place at the National Theatre and people came to me after my performance just to encourage me with what I am doing because of the truth in my words. I try to right a wrong with every poem that I write and I know that gradually,I am changing the minds of people by letting them know how special it is to be an African, making them aware of the right social and moral behaviours, and other subjects. I am also preparing to release a poetry album this year.
4.Could you tell us a bit about your involvement with NT1 poetry?
I was involved in so many way with NT1 Poetry, a poetry show that was running on TV Africa some months back. It has been off the air for some time because we are re-structuring that whole show to be better and bigger. We are also planning on moving it to another station. I was one of the organizers and concept developers, and I also performed on the show. I was also in charge of auditioning some poets.
5. You sparked our last Roundtable Discussion with a note about "bare" poems that "lack [the] qualities of what a poem is supposed to entail." This type of criticism is rare in Ghanaian poetry circles these days. What can we do to strengthen the voice of Ghanaian critics? Do critics need encouragement to find their voice, or do you think critics will naturally emerge as Ghanaian poetry grows in popularity?
Naturally,there is this notion that poetry is for the elites and is only written by the brainy so anytime we come across a poem, we automatically see it as a masterpiece because of our mindset about poetry. I think the first thing we have to do is to make poetry acceptable to all manner of people, then they can start criticizing. I can also say for a fact that people are beginning to accept poetry, that is based on my own research and as it expands and grows, people will start speaking.