Simaro had predicted that it would rain heavily the day he died in his song Mabele released 45 years ago, which came to pass last Saturday
As funeral arrangements for rhumba icon Lutumba Simaro Massiya, who died last Saturday in Paris, gain momentum, speculations as to whether he foresaw his death 45 years ago have surfaced.
The iconic musician, popularly known as Le Poete, had a string of fascinating compositions, and the theme of death is one of the topics he grappled with in his scintillating verses.
In the hit song Mabele, a veritable classic that he wrote 45 years ago in Lingala (sung by Sam Mangwana), he says: “Mokolo nakokufa kake ekobeta... moto nanga bakamata basala monument (The day I will die there will be a thunderstorm and they will use my head to make a monument)”.
Some people see last Saturday’s thunderstorms and flash-floods in Kinshasa, happening right after news of his death broke, as vindication of this dark prophesy.
Talk has been rife in Kinshasa over the coincidence of the sudden heavy rains and his death, with most radio stations playing the song in his honour.
On Friday, mourners continued to condole with his family members in Paris and, back home in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) government made arrangements to fly the body back to Congo.
Speaking to the Saturday Nation on Thursday, the Kenyan Ambassador to the DRC, Dr George Masafu said arrangements were in place for Simaro’s funeral.
Speaking from Kinshasa, fellow veteran musician Kiamuangana Mateta Verckys said he had been appointed by the government to lead a delegation of other musicians, some family members and state officials to Paris on April 12, to help with the funeral arrangements.
They are expected to return to Kinshasa with the body on April 14, with the burial date tentatively set for April 16.
“As of now, we can’t confirm the burial date, which could be either April 16 or 17,” Verckys said.
Among those expected to accompany him are songbirds Mbilia Bel and Tshala Muana, Felix Wazekwa, a member of Franco’s family and journalists.
Simaro was the grandmaster Franco’s TPOK Jazz band vice-president for several years in an enduring and highly fruitful musical collaboration.
In Paris, Simaro’s widow Helen Nkelani and other family members, including son Salomon and daughter Laura, have been liaising with fellow Congolese nationals in making the funeral arrangements.
Paris-based Congolese crooner Nyboma Muandido told the Saturday Nation that a major musical tribute in honour of Simaro would be held today in Paris.
“We plan to honour him with a show where we will play some of his favourite compositions from his illustrious musical career, which inspired many of us,“ Nyboma said.
It will feature a host of former Simaro associates in TPOK living in Europe such as guitarist Dizzy Mandjeku, Malage Lugendo, Wuta Mayi, Lokombe, and Syran Mbenza. Notably, another veteran guitarist, Paris-based Nedule Papa Noel, has been kept off stage due to illness.
BANA OK JAZZ
Simaro’s impressive discography includes classics such as Mandola, Mbongo, Dati Petrole, Mabele, Ebale ya Zaire and Maya.
His Bana OK group (a splinter from TPOK Jazz Band), which he led until he retired from active music almost two years ago, is now under former Orch Wenge Musica singer Manda Chante. The Bana OK band will remain to carry on Simaro’s legacy, which appears to have been his wish.
Various Kinshasa bands have, since his death, been staging shows featuring his songs in his tribute.
Speaking on Friday from Paris, veteran London-based former TPOK guitarist Mose Fan Fan, who was flanked by Ceskin Molenga (another former Franco band member) and Syran Mbenza said he had gone to condole the Simaro family.
Another tribute show for Simaro is slated to take place in London next week.
In Nairobi, where Simaro also has a big fan base, Cotu Secretary-General Francis Atwoli and veteran radio personality Fred Obachi Machoka are expected to lead a group of Kenyan rhumba fans to attend Simaro’s burial.
Saturday evening, Harrys Tavern in Nairobi’s Umoja Estate, will host a Simaro tribute show, with popular rhumba DJ Aladeen in action.
Other clubs across the country have also organised rhumba shows in Simaro’s honour.