Rootwords SADC Tours Lusaka, Johannesburg, Durban and Malkerns | 19 – 27 May 2017

Swiss-Zambian “world citizen rapper”, Julio Mwansa Nkowane, a.k.a Rootwords, will be embarking on a SADC region tour this May.

The acclaimed American-born rapper behind the tracks All Good and Freedom of Speech will be taking the stages of 5 venues in Zambia, South Africa and Swaziland all within 9 days. The artist’s modern hip-hop, dub electro-infused sound has already garnered him a following in the US, Europe and the Caribbean.

He has shared a stage with iconic artists such as The Original Wailers, KRS-One, Public Enemy and Cypress Hill. Outside Switzerland, where he is based, his live music has already reached audiences in France, Germany, USA, Spain, Italy, China and Peru.

Joining him on the tour is his eclectic 4-member band, The Block Notes, with whom he has performed in numerous music festivals including the Paleo Festival, Montreux Jazz Festival, Rototom Sunsplash, Reggae Sun Ska and Selvamonos Festival. The band is well versed on the kind of hip-hop represented by Rootwords and their influences include reggae, jazz, funk, rock, dub and electro. The crew consists of the “precise, powerful and heavy” drummer Benjamin Riggi; bassist Stan Breynaert, who “serves as the reference point for all the musicians on stage”; the “ever-present” sound engineer Vernon Pace and “the melody master” Julien Boss on keys.

Saxon Baird for MTV Iggy hailed Rootwords as a rapper who’s “beginning to turn heads beyond his home country with his infectious brand of conscious, globally-minded lyricism that channels the qualities of NYC’s boom-bap era”. The lyricist has earned a reputation for performing a repertoire of high stature, with an absolute commitment to communicating the essence of music at it’s most organic level. This commitment has seen him winning the M4 Music ‘Urban Award’.

Through music, Rootwords also spreads a message of hope. In 2016 he partnered up with John Aram and multi-talented musician Jacob Collier for a humanitarian collaboration to support UNHCR’s response to the refugee crisis in Europe.

His forthcoming album is scheduled for release in 2017.

The tour will kick off in Zambia at the Lusaka arts centre Modzi Arts on 19 May. Rootwords will form part of the centre’s aims to “grow the contemporary art and cultural scene, making it more visible in Zambian society…”.

Still in Lusaka, the tour proceeds to Club Zed on the 20th of May. The newly refurbished venue is focused on fostering a culture of live music performance, and an unmistakably local clubbing experience.

On the 24th May the ensemble will entertain audiences at The Bat Centre, hosted by KZN Music Imbizo in Durban, South Africa. The event will feature Robin Third Floor, Supah Mpondo, Gaba, Brand Leo. KZN Music Imbizo is a fast-growing annual international music business conference and exhibition that has hosted the likes of jazz singer Sibongile Khumalo, Prof Joseph Tshabalala of Ladysmith Black Mambazo and many others. The Imbizo aims to create a platform for cultural and business exchange in Africa, develop and export talent from the continent, build a common understanding of issues affecting the African music industries.

The crew will be at the dynamic Trackside space in Soweto, outside Johannesburg on the 25th of May. The creative hub is a venue for artists to use food, crafts, music, graffiti, photography, film, fashion, animation, motion & graphic design, comics, web/app development and events to imagine, create and collaborate.

The tour will culminate in a performance at the world-renowned MTN Bushfire Festival in Swaziland on 27 May. Named by CNN as one of the 7 African must-attend festivals, MTN Bushfire boasts a line-up of big acts such as Hugh Masekela, Msaki, GoodLuck, Kwesta, and Femi Koya.

Rootwords and The Block Notes’ SADC tour is supported by Pro Helvetia, the Swiss Arts Council.

Connect with Rootwords music online:

Website :

Facebook :

Youtube :

Instagram :

Soundcloud :

iTunes :


Tour Schedule:

19/05      Modzi Arts [Lusaka]

20/05      Club Zed [Lusaka]

24/05      The BAT Centre [Durban]

25/05      Trackside Creative [Johannesburg]

27/05      Bushfire Festival [Malkerns]


Julio Mwansa Nkowane – vocals

Benjamin Riggi – drums

Julien Boss – keys

Stan Breynaert – bass

Vernon Pace – sound engineer

View the Rootwords & The Block Notes live trailer here:

If Youtube video link required, please use the song “All Good“:

Download images here:


For Rootwords and The Block Notes –

Stan Breynaert: (band member and manager)

For Pro Helvetia, the Swiss Arts Council –

Salym Fayad, +27785172132 (tour manager)

Germaine Gamiet, (music programme head)

Rucera Seethal, +27798975875 (communications & programme)

Sthembile Gasa,  (online communications)

About Pro Helvetia Johannesburg:

Pro Helvetia Johannesburg is one of five international nodes of the Swiss Arts Council.  Located in Johannesburg, it covers the Southern Africa region, facilitating exchange and collaboration between artists, projects and organisations in Southern Africa and Switzerland, through residencies and collaborative projects between the two contexts. Through an agreement with the SADC regional office of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Pro Helvetia Johannesburg also supports transnational collaboration, mobility of artists and work, and network development within the SADC region.


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