King of rhumba still rules, 28 years af­ter his death

Fans and mu­si­cians to pay trib­ute to rhumba leg­end at top en­ter­tain­ment spots in the coun­try

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - NATIONAL NEWS - BY AMOS NGAIRA an­­tion­

Ex­actly 28 years yes­ter­day, Africa lost one of its great­est mu­si­cians — Con­golese gui­tar wiz­ard and crooner Franco Luambo Luanzo Makiadi, who died in a Bel­gian hospi­tal. To the many sea­soned rhumba mu­sic fans across Africa and beyond, re­gard­less of age, this week will be a time to savour fond mem­o­ries of the nu­mer­ous al­lur­ing tunes from his rich discog­ra­phy.

The Na­tion es­tab­lished through tele­phone en­quiries that some of his coun­ter­parts and fam­ily mem­bers were due to have a memo­rial vigil by his grave at Gombe Ceme­tery in Kin­shasa, yes­ter­day. Con­firm­ing this, vet­eran mu­si­cian Pas­cal Onema, who also worked with Franco, said he would join oth­ers at the memo­rial.

Franco and his giant mu­si­cal en­sem­ble, TP OK Jazz Band, will be re­mem­bered for hav­ing been one of the pil­lars of Con­golese Lin­gala mu­sic. His near­est com­peti­tor was Tabu Ley Rochereau, who, in­ci­den­tally, also died in a Bel­gian hospi­tal four years ago.

His TP OK Jazz band said to have re­leased an es­ti­mated 2,500 songs

This week, so­cial me­dia has been abuzz with fans shar­ing and dis­cussing what they con­sider to have been some of Franco’s best tracks.

Per­haps, it was Tabu Ley, who died in Novem­ber 2013. who se­ri­ously ri­valled Franco in terms of pop­u­lar­ity in Congo, and else­where.

Si­maro led an off­shoot from TP OK Jazz, Bana OK, from 1993 un­til a few years ago when ill­ness took him off the stage. The group fea­tured some of the lead­ing for­mer top singers from TP OK such as Pepe Ndombe Ope­tum (also de­ceased) and Josky Ki­ambukuta, who like Si­maro, has lately been in­ac­tive due to poor health.

In Europe, one of the no­table for­mer TP OK mu­si­cians is Lon­don-based gui­tarist Mose Fan Fan, who com­posed the house­hold tune Papa Lolo. Mose Fan Fan a hit in the 1970s, with the song Dje Me­lasi , with TP OK.

Other for­mer mem­bers based in Congo Braz­zav­ille and DR Congo are singers Edo Nganga, Michel Boy­ibanda, bass gui­tarist Celi Bitchou, who com­posed the In­fidél­ité Mado song and gui­tarist Ar­mando Braz­zos.

Those in Europe, in­clude Prince Youlou Mabi­ala, Dizzy Mand­jeku and his Odemba OK band in Bel­gium and Miche­lino, Papa Noel and Wuta Mayi in Paris. Sam Mang­wana is in his na­tive An­gola.

In Kenya, some clubs will to­day and to­mor­row have shows in Franco’s hon­our. Elvis Lola, the son of Lola Che­cain, who was a longserv­ing singer with TP OK Jazz, will lead his Afro Sound band dur­ing a spe­cial show to­mor­row at the Me­laden Club Res­tau­rant in Nairobi.

Dur­ing to­mor­row’s show, Lola has asked fans to come dressed in black and white “in mem­ory of Franco”. Lola Che­cain is best re­mem­bered for Libala ya Bana Na Bana and teamed up on vo­cals with Ntesa Dalienst and Djo Mpoyi.

Nairobi rhumba mu­sic fan Dan Ochieng is promis­ing “Franco fire­works” at Beepee Lounge in Trans Tow­ers, near KIMC, at Nairobi South B. Dan has been a big fan for years, hav­ing lived in DRC for three years.

Mu­sic pro­gramme

Health scholar Dr Sob­bie Mulindi re­called he re­ceived news of the death of Franco while at­tend­ing an Aids con­fer­ence in Mar­seille, France. Franco died in Brus­sels in Oc­to­ber 1989.

“I used to meet Franco when­ever they toured France when I was a stu­dent in the 1980s,” he said.

Rhumba fans Peter Ma­hagwa Luhongo and Eliab Kiemo say they would spend the week­end lis­ten­ing to Franco’s mu­sic.

And vet­eran broad­caster Fred Obachi Ma­choka says he will ded­i­cate this week­end’s Roga Roga mu­si­cal pro­grammes both on Ra­dio and Cit­i­zen TV, to Franco’s mu­sic.

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