Music and Musicians in Eastern and Central Africa

Mondiya Mama

July 15th., 1998
Copyright: Vital Logistics Teknokacia, Nairobi,  Kenya

N.B. For more on East African music, check out Douglas Paterson's great site here!!
  1. 1. Orch Lipua Lipua - Prof Vata Mombassa, Nyboma Muan'dido (presently in Paris with 4-stars), Kizunga Ricos, Athos Mongoley, Mbubie Malanda - one of the best composers and vocalists), Benazoe Mbuta, Tshimanga Assosa (in Tanzania with Marquis du Zaire), Mule Mulembu Tshibao, Nsayi Nono Nkuka, Tedia Wunu Mbakidi, Toninoe, Lusuama Aspro, Nzaya Nzayadio, Mwalupu, Deni Wade, Ken Kiesse, Pepe Kalle (broke off to form Empire Bakuba), Mbanza Velela, Makaya etc
  1. 2.   Orch Les Kamale - Formed by Nyboma from Lipua Lipua. Included Mulembu Tshibao, Tshimanga Assosa, Kinzunga Ricos, Mbuta Benazo and, later after the break away of Orch. Fuka Fuka, Bompongo Assana.
  1. 3.   Bella Bella - the late Socki Vangu and his late brother Soki Dianzenza; also included Shaba Kahamba.  Off shoots saw the emergence of Kanda Mbongo Man.
  1. 4. Orch Shama Shama de Mopero - Featured Mopero, Mambo Ley, Jeampy and Dona Mobeti.  The Keyan-based vocalist Prince Koko Zigo Mike is reported to have once been part of Shama Shama in Uganda towards the end of Idi Amin's reign and before he was invited to Kenya by Bwami Walumona and Kalombo Mwanza when they formed Orch Viva Makale Almasi.
  1. 5. Empire Bakuba - featuring Pepe Kelle Kabaselleh Yampanya, Pay Tex, Kinanga Nzaou Boeing, Dilu Dilumona, Doris Ebouya and the late 'Dancing' EMORO.  This band, like Zaiko Langa Langa, is very popular because it is still largely based in Zaire rather than in any Western capital.  Pepe Kalle himself is on record saying that he gets his inspiration from his live audiences in Africa. The band now boasts of another very good (but unknown in the West) vocalist/composer, Jojo Ikomo from the Kenyan section of the Zairoise Diaspora.
  1. 6.  African All Stars that featured Sam Mangwana who once also sung with Franco's TP OK Jazz.
  1. 7. Tabuley Rochereau and Afrisa International - Especially the hits of the late 1960s, 1970s and mid 1980s.  Once Tabuley and the famous Nicholas Kasanda (Dr Nico) performed together as African Fiesta.  The late Dr Nico is rated in the same category as Tabuley and Franco. Tabuley's popolarity has waned somwhat since the departure of Mbilia Bel and his attempts at 'Madiabafication' of his music.
  1. 8. Luambo Luanzo Makiadi Franco & TP OK Jazz.  All his entire repartoire from the late 1950's to his death in the late 1980's.  Probably the  most prolific composer and the best known Zairean musician.
  1. 9. Zaiko Langa Langa - and most offshoots except those that emigrated to Paris which have become bogged down in the African Morass in Europe. Nyoka Longo, Zangilu, J.P Buse, Bimi Ombale, Zamuangana, Bozi Boziana, Belobi Nge Ekerne, Bakunde Ilo Pablo, the late Lengi Lenga, Dindo Yogo (now caught up in the Paris vicious circle), Yvon Kabamba, Dju Dju Mandjeku, Muaka Bapius Mbeka etc.  This band, especially under Nyoka Longo, has been popular in Zaire and most of East and Central Africa since the late 1970's.  It is currently the most popular, although some people think that Alain Makaba's Wenge Musica and Koffi Olomide's Quarter Latin as well as Papa Wemba's Viva La Musica are strong challengers.  However, none of these other bands can claim the longterm consistency of Nyoka Longo.  In the West he is less well known than either Olomide or Wemba.
Photo 1: The gigantic African musicians -  Kenyan Prof. Naaman
(Left) with Zaireans Dancing Emoro (Centre) and Pepe Kalle  (Right) photoed in Nairobi during a concert tour to Kenya by Empire Bakuba.

Photo 2: Orch. Zaiko Langa Langa during a recent tour of Kenya     (29-31st May 1998)

  1. 10. Grand Piza - featured Mbo Mayu, Makengo Roy and Aime. Disappeared without trace in the mid 1970's.
  1. 11. Baba Nationale and its offshoots - Mangelepa, Bwambe Bwambe, Bana Ekanga, Pepe Lepe.
Baba Gastone Ilunga wa Ilunga formed Baba Nationale in the late 1950's (Barua Kwa Mpenzi Gastone), then moved to Kenya where offshoots like the famous Mangelepa, Bwambe Bwambe and Pepelepe were formed by disenchanted members. Famous names included Evani Kabila Kabanze (very good vocalist/composer), Kalenga Nzaazi Vivi (vocalist/composer), Tshimanga, BadiBanga wa Tshilumba Kaikai 9vocalist/composer), Lutulu Kaniki Macky (vocalist/composer), the late Shoushou (Tchou Tchou), Jimmy Kanyinda, Aloni Vangu, Estazo wa Esta (later joined Festival du Zaire), the late Nana Akumu wa Kudu (led Pepe Lepe in Nairobi before joining Franco in the hit song `Mamou'),Mukala wa Mulumba Bebe, Zainabu, Pepe Mato, Yassa Bijouley (now in Mombasa, Kenya), Lisasi Ebale Mozindo, the late Tabu Nkotela Kiombwe (died in Mombasa, Kenya, while in police custody on a theft case), Kasongo wa Kanema, (frequent in Japan), Zengele Saida, John Ngereza (now leading the famous Les Wanyika in Nairobi), Bosho Kayembe Nyonga (now leading Festival Libaku in Nairobi), William Tambwe Lokassa, Kasongo Fundi, Le Capitaine Bwami Walumona, Kazadi Mbiya Saleh wa Bambu, Medico Bwala, Mukala Kanyinda Coco, Lukangika Maindusa Moustang, Lumwamga Mayombo Ambassedeur, etc. Compositions of Orch Mangelepa (unheard of since 1986) are still much sought after in East Africa.  If some of these names have new numbers, the author knows several interested producers.
  1. 12. Festival Du Zaire - featured Nguashi Ntimbo (very good composer and vocalist who also sung with Franco's TP OK Jazz), Estazo wa Esta, Kadima, Zele Kabamba etc. Ntimbo was also associated with Orch. Sentima and Orch. Citoyen.
Photo 3 Orch Malembe Stars of Kabakaba Bibiley Mwana Malela - formerly of Les Kinois and Virunga.
Photo 4: The Nyotas Band of Rondo Kandolo before it broke up.  Julian did a live performance with this group in June 1997 at their old tuff, Egessa Inn, Umoja 1 (& Inner Core) Estate, in Nairobi's sprawling Eastlands
  1. 13. Bana Ngenge - Based in Nairobi in the mid 1970's and featured Fataki Los Los Lokassa Masumbuko ya Dunia, Jojo Ikomo (now with Empire Bakuba), Nsilu Bansilu Manicho (on the Japanese Circuit), the late Lawison Somana (produced Lady Issa at one time), Ochudi, Mandala Otis Musa, Zengele Saida, Beya Maduma, Roxy Tshimpaka (now with Zaiko Langa Langa, formally with Choc Stars).
The author is interested in getting in touch with the remnants of this band wherever they are.  Fataki was so famous and loved in Kenya that some prominent sports personalities were nick-named after him.  The same applied to Jojo and Manicho.
  1. 14. Bangambo Zigidia - of Koko Jeriko Zigo Mike who later joined Shama Shama de Mopero before moving to Kenya as part of Viva Makale, Kombe Kombe, Virunga (of Samba Mapangala) and currently leading his own Losako Musica in Nairobi.  A very very good vocalist and composer but neglected by producers hence not financially sucessful as his Paris-based mates.  In recognition of this fact, Prince Koko is requested to get in touch for a possible recording deal.
  1. 15. Orch. Bassanga - led by the very good saxophonist and vocalist, George Kalombo Mwanza.  Also had Jojo Ikomo (now with Empire Bakuba), Batchalinge Tabu Ogollah (of Special Liwanza, Boma Liwanza, Shika Shika, Les Jaca and now on the Japanese circuit), William Tambwe Lokassa and the Ethiopian Tamrat Tommy.

  2. Who knows what happened to Kalombo? Where is Tambwe since he  left Orch. Virunga?
  1. 16. Orch Les Kinois - featured Samba Mapangala (now with Virunga), the late Pele Ekwaki Ondindia, Madjo Maduley Iliko Presto DjO (now in USA) Walengo Diabanza Niki Djo, Kaba Kaba Bibiley (now very successful in Nairobi with Malembe Stars or Bana Motindo), Joseph Okello Songa (later joined Super Mazembe), Kasule Mopepe, the late Bedjo Dibuba Mikobi Maumo), Musa Otis Mandala, Fataki Lokassa, Zengele Saida etc. Samba Mapangala has reportedly moved to the USA and should probably seek his old mate Madjo to re-do some of their old numbers with Les Kinois like `Kilindo', `Bawa', Mbepe', `Mabouidi', `Anyango', Susan, etc.  To some, the Samba-Madjo-Pele combination produced more melodious and memorable songs than the more famous VIRUNGA which unfortunately lost its identity when it used the Paris morass in the studio instead of its own musicians like Koko Zigo, Fataki Lokassa, Ntambwe etc. One wonders why Samba preferred this arrangement.
  1. 17. Viva Makale - of Kalombo Mwanza George, Bwami Nalumona (Formerly of Baba Nationale and Mangelepa, now a `born-again' christian in Nairobi), Jimi Monimambo (of Shika Shika fame, now in Tanzania), Kasongo Kanema (ex-Baba Nationale, ex Bwambe Bwambe, then joined Orch Vundumuna and Ibeba Systems), Elliot Aduonga (ex-Somajeko), Sammy Mansita (later joined VIRUNGA and also Ibeba systems), Mwalimu Siama Matuzu-Ngidi Ntima (also of Kombe Kombe and Virunga), Le Muttu Vumbi Lava (Love) Machine (also of Kombe Kombe & Virunga), Mukala Coco, the late Tommy Lomboto Ahmed Brown, Tcherry Stone, Kabeya Elombe etc. It would be a releif to know where these great musicians are today.
  1. 18. Johny Bokelo Isenge of Conga De J. Bokelo, Conga Success, Conga International and lastly with Bonda Africa
  1. 19. Orch KIAM (Kiamwangana):  A very popular group in the 1970's. Had Mfui Mwane and Lele Nsundi as key members. Could  outsell even Zaiko Langa Langa today. Who knows how and why they broke up and stayed down?. Was it because Kiamwamgana's support was so vital that when Mobutu expelled him from Zaire, the band could not survive? The author would like to get and keep in touch with survivors.
  1. 20. Les Noirs - of Mukaputu Kalemby Kajos, the late Moreno Batamba, Jojo Ikomo, William Tambwe Lokassa, Mankwazi Duki Dieudos and Chuza Kabaselleh.  What happened to Kajos, Duki and Chuza?
  1. 21.  Somajeko International - Nairobi-based band with distinctive beat but whose existence was shortlived.  Was composed of big names like Sammy Kasule, Festus Adwonga, John Njaghe (what happened to him) and others.
  1. 22. 9 stars Orchestra and Prof. Naaman.  The Kenyan equivalent of Pepe Kalle, the late 'Prof.' Naaman had a very successful musical career with his 9 Stars Orchestra. This was in addition to his herbal medicine practice.  The group's compositions were much sought after but the band did not survive the death of its founder and sponsor.
  1. 23. Orch MAS System - another very successful all kenyan show that was based at Muungano Bar in Eastleigh, Nairobi.   With the deaths of some leading members and the departure of others, the band is now a pale shadow of its former self and is now reportedly based in Kisumu, western Kenya.
  1. 24. Super Mazembe (Bana Likasi) - Didos Longwa, the late Bukalos Bukassa, Kasongo Songoley, Atia Joe, Katele Aley, the late Lovy Longomba, Kasongo wa Kanema, Lobe Roddy Mapako, Samba Mapangala, Madjo Maduley, Kalombo Mwanza, Fataki Lokassa.  Popularity waned when these stars left.  Katele Aley penned most of the Mazembe hits although few people know this and he was less famous than the other members of the group.  Nothing has been heard of him in a long time but Longwa has been seen in various kenyan towns in the recent past with a Super Mazembe band which has not had a successful hit in the last 10 years.  It is not even known if any recordings have been made.  Muntokole Longwa should let us know the situation since they participated in the recent opening of the 'City Cabanas' restaurant near the International Airport in Nairobi.
Photo 4:  Orch Les Wanyika - the most successful band in Kenya at the moment

The author of this article, Muttu Mondiya Mama is a lover and collector of African Music.  He welcomes comments and additions/corrections on East and Central Africa music and musicians with a view to writing an authoritative and accurate account.  He can be contacted at the following addresses:

1.  P O Box 868
    BUNGOMA, Kenya

2.  P O Box 6300
    NAIROBI, Kenya

3.  C/o This web page

Electronic audio samples of productions of cited groups can be sent on request via this web page.  Arrangements can also be made to supply tapes at Cost subject to Copyright Laws.

A list of the best selling hits of the Era reviewed in this article follows:

The following numbers were big hits are still much sought after by collectors. Contact this web page if you have any for sale or exchange.

Julian's Home Page

Julian's Sax Page