From nobody Sun Oct 12 16:04:56 2003
From: C Spinner <>
Newsgroups: soc.culture.african,soc.culture.south-africa,soc.culture.african.american
Subject: Africa Celebrates Congo's Franco
Date: Sun, 12 Oct 2003 11:03:58 -0700
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Celebrating Congo's Franco: The Ties That Bind Africa

Daily Nation (Nairobi), 11 October 2003

Remembering the great Franco

Lingala maestro Luambo Luanzo Makiadi. His fans mark Franco's Day tomorrow.

Exactly 14 years ago tomorrow, one of Africa's greatest musicians, Congolese maestro Luambo Luanzo Makiadi, Franco to many of his fans, died in a hospital in Brussels, Belgium.

With his death, the curtain came down on one of gurus of lingala band music. Franco was such a big star, with his TP OK Jazz, which had nearly 50 musicians, that they operated as more of a fully-fledged company.

While his many fans miss the numerous hits he churned out month after month year after year, the other big losers were the many musicians he brought under his wings and tirelessly honed their talents.

Many of the big names in Congolese music passed through Franco's hands. Even the ones who did not belong to the band proper, did some memorable collaborations with the burly lead guitarist, singer, and composer. He did collaborations with Tabu Ley, yielding one of the greatest albums, Lisanga ya Banganga. With Sam Mangwana, he recorded Co-operation. With Ndombe Opetum, he did some exciting songs.

Notably as for Ndombe his son Babi Ndombe is now one of the leading proponents of the new generation of Congolese musicians where he is performing with Werra Son's Orch Wenge Musica Maison Mere.

The group he is now performing with is as among those in the fourth generation who have been seen to attempt to bridge the gap between the new and old generation of Congolese musicians.

Unlike in the past the style used by the fourth generation both the middle aged and younger generation of musicians. The up-tempo beat which incorporates more of the techno-beats appears to have taken over the minds of most Lingala music fans.

Incidentally also Paris based Congolese musician Awilo Longomba a sibling of the legendary Vicky Longomba (a long-time associate of the Franco) is one of the proponents of the techno-Soukous music style.

He is best known for some of his popular songs like Coupe Bipamba and Moyen Te.

Incidentally Longomba in an effort to follow the footsteps of the elder Longomba incorporated some tracks in the Rhumba beats on the CD Moto Pamba like Dati Petrole

In Kenya the Longomba dynasty is extended through The Longombas popularly know for the dance track Dondosa.

The Longombas (twins), Christian and Lovy are sons to the late Lovy Longomba a step brother to Awilo.

Lovy was reputed as one of the top singers and composers on the Kenya lingala music scene as from the late 1970's to the mid-90's.

Also based in Nairobi is J.P. Lola a son of veteran vocalist Lola Checain who was a long-serving vocalist with Franco's TP OK Jazz band.

According to Kasongo wa Kanema the leader of the Nairobi based Orch Super Mazembe band, Franco's music was unique in composition making it an everlasting favourite to listen.

During live shows it is common to have most musicians play Franco's songs which most of the musicians do regard as a source of inspiration, Kasongo said.

Kasongo also pointed out that a bigger difference existed between the music of the yester-years and that of today in terms of beats and arrangements.

In the past musicians took their time to compose and arrange more original works contrary to the present situation where most of the musicians in a move to release more songs rely heavily on techno-beats, he added.

This in a way explains why many compilations of the late Franco's music has in the recent past started slowly creeping back to the music shelves.

Veteran US based Congolese producer and musician Mekanisi Modero in a recent interview with Review singled out Franco's music as being ever inspiring to all.

Regarding Congolese entertainment in general, I do believe that there's a kind of lull however they have been good efforts from some former associates like Sam Mangwana, Josky Kiambukuta and Madilu System who recently released songs doing well both in Europe and the US, Mekanisi said.

Veteran producer Justus Kasoya of Tamasha Corporation in Nairobi (formerly Polygram Records) says Franco's music has always been exciting to listen to due to the extended beat.

At this time of the year when music fans go down to remember sales of his music usually tend to pick up, he said.

Among Franco's proteges were Lutumba Simaro Massiya, popularly referred to as Le Poet, who was for many years, his deputy band leader. Lutumba succeeded Franco on his death, but after quarrels with his family over leadership, quit with a number of other musicians to form Bana OK.

Franco's family still controls the TP OK Jazz label and the equipment and recent reports indicate that they do occasionally hire them out to other musicians.

Simaro recently returned to Kinshasa from a tour of Europe without most of the band members amid speculations that there was a rift within the group.

Veteran singers Josky Kiambukuta and Ndombe are among those who have been in the frontline of the Bana OK bands which consists of many former members of Franco's TP OK Jazz band who have been touring Europe.

They are on record as having been consistent with the tempo of the TP OK band.

There is also Madilu System, who has gone on to do well in his solo career. In the neighbouring Congo Republic, Franco's greatest ally was Prince Youlou Mabiala.

Franco used his music to convey social messages. But he was so adept at the lead guitar the commentary, in a conversational style in which he posed and answered questions, took chunks of his long records, lasting more than five minutes.

Rhumba lovers will sample tracks from the legendary musician's large discography ranging from the earlier days in the 1950's of Bolingo na Beatrice, Motema ya Loko (1957), Mado yo Sango and Malambo zela (1958).

Into the sixties others can sample a variety of his better known ones he recorded with some of his earlier associates like Vicky Longomba, Landot Rossignol, Joseph Mulamba Mujos Kwamy Munsi and Lola Checain.

The songs include Rhumba favourites like Lobela Ngai Nyonso Oyokaki, Oye Oye and Malambo zela Ngai.

Some of the better known later hit songs by the late Franco and his TP OK Jazz include Mario, Azda, Tokoma ba camarade Pamba, Mado and Pesa Position.

Franco's rivalry with some of his counterparts like Tabu Ley Rochereau also greatly enhanced his prowess.

However it was the late Paul Ebongo (Dewayon) who was seen to have been his main source of inspiration when it came to playing the guitar.

Also during his heydays he was closely in association with Joseph Kabasele (aka Grand Kalle) who was widely respected as the innovator of the popular Rhumba Cha Cha Cha .

Franco and Tabu Ley jointly recorded Kabasele in Memoriam that was in tribute to Grand Kalle who died on February 1983.

It was in the same year 1983 that Franco led his group to a tour of Kenya when they staged several shows. The group later twice visited Kenya (in 1986 and 1987).

Franco's fans will also recall singer Madilu System's resurgence in the TP OK Jazz band through songs like Non, Mamou (Tu Vois) and Fabrice (1983).

Incidentally it was Mamou which appeared to have moved most of the fans with the lyrics depicting a lively conversation between two women, a divorcee and a married one who accuses the former of trying to break up her marriage.

The song also includes a telephone conversion part where bassist Mpudi Decca mimics a lady's voice on telephone.

As for Mangwana who now lives in Europe he is still remembered for his role particularly for his last recording with Franco Forever.

But where are some of the other former members of the TP OK Jazz band?

Scores of former associates of Franco are now leaving in Europe and America.

Among them include Thierry Mantuika, Nedule Papa Noel, Fan Fan Mosese, Dizzy Mandjeku (lead guitarists), Decca Mpudi, Pierrot Tshitolo Gandhi, Petit Pierre (bass and rhythm guitarists).

Yuma Michel Sax, Ngewanzola, Souris (Sax and trumpet), Diato Lukoki, Lokombe, Wuta Mayi, Malage de Lugendo, Sami Bumba Masa, Akumu Nana, Bambo Baniel, (singers), Nado Kakoma (drummer).

Other former members of the band also in Europe and Africa include Mayaula Mayoni of Cherie Bondowe fame who has been living in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Djo Djo Ikomo in Kinshasa. Most of these musicians have all along in their recordings never failed to acknowledge Franco's name in their recordings.

Meanwhile it will be all systems go from tonight as Kenyan fans of Franco's music join others is marking the Francos' day starting from tonight to tomorrow at various spots.