Biyaa Chonta is a project create by the DC-based musician Kumera Zekarias. The inspiration was to connect Ethiopian music with Black Colombian musica del Pacifico, expanding on musical similarities and creating bridges to better understand musical connections between Africa and the Diaspora. Roughly translated as 'the territory of the palms', the meaning of Biyya Chonta is intended to evoke an alternate plane of healing for Black peoples that exists in our music. That we use music as a form of protest, empowerment, but also as a form of escape.

**Biyya means "the territory" in Afaan Oromo, the most widely spoken first language in Ethiopia, and Chonta is the name of a palm tree that is native to the Pacific Coast of Colombia.

Kumera Zekarias is a multilingual singer-songwriter, producer, and the band leader of Kino Musica--a five-piece band based in DC. Originally from Austin, Texas.

Kumera’s diverse and reflective music is rooted in the soulful expression of blues and the bilingual traditions of the Southwest. Kumera started Kino Musica in 2014 to explore his own East African musical heritage. Since 2018, he has collaborated with musicians in Colombia, with a focus on musica del Pacifico.


Artwork by Hanna Ramirez @hanna.rg

Kino Musica

Library of Congress 2019 Homegrown Archive Challenge

Kumera was chosen to part of the Archive Challenge at the Library of Congress in 2019. Artists from the local DC community were invited to do an eight-month research project in the Archive of Folk Culture at the library. Their collection of folk music dates back to the early 20th century. The challenge was that artists would find three to four pieces to cover and re-arrange. Kumera chose songs from Colombia, Panama, Burkina Faso, and Ethiopia that he felt illustrated the musical connection between these disparate regions.

M&M Music on Takoma Radio (October 2019)

Kumera and Bogota based musician, film-maker and activist Leonardo Rua went on the show M&M music at Takoma Radio to discuss the similarities between Colombian musica del Pacifico and Ethiopian music. Highlighting 6/8 rhythms and pentatonic melodies common to both forms of music; with a focus on music from the Sahel as a connecting point

Created By
Kumera Genet