Legendary Congolese musician Lutumba Ndomanueno Simaro will be buried in Kinshasa on May 5, with a befitting State send-off planned.
An official announcement by DR Congo government released on Saturday afternoon has put to rest the anxiety over the plans for his funeral, which had been going on in Kinshasa and Paris for the last two weeks.
A brief official funeral programme from the Congolese Ministry of Culture and Arts, which was also made available to the Nation on Monday, indicated that Simaro's body will flown to Kinshasa from Paris on Sunday April 28, accompanied of some his former colleagues, family members and State officials.
Veteran Kenyan radio personality Fred Obachi Machoka, who is planning to attend the burial, also confirmed having seen the funeral programme.
Cotu Secretary-General Francis Atwoli and a consultant neurosurgeon and rhumba music fan, Dr Reuben Lubanga, are among the Kenyans planning to attend the funeral.
CONFIRMATION OF BURIAL DATE
Mr Machoka and Mr Atwoli had earlier booked to travel to DR Congo, but postponed their travel plans as they awaited the confirmation of the burial date.
Speaking Monday from Coventry, England, Simaro's son, Mr Salomon Lutumba, confirmed the government announcement, saying they were waiting the group from Kinshasa to collect the body on Saturday.
“We will be able to give more details as a family later in the week on any other plans we might have before flying back with the body to Kinshasa,” he said.
The younger Lutumba will return to Paris to join up with the widow, Mama Hellen Nkelani, sisters Sylvie, Laura and brother Robert. Their elder brother, Mr Jean Claude, has been coordinating arrangements back at the family home at Linguala in Kinshasa.
Various Congolese musicians have been staging tribute shows in Kinshasa dedicated to Simaro since his death after a long illness.
According to the official funeral programme, Simaro’s body will be placed in the presidential palace for public viewing on May 4 before it is buried the next day.
The government will cater for the costs and give him a state funeral.
Simaro, who died on March 30, aged 81, leaves a legacy as one of DR Congo’s topmost musical composers, which earned him the title “Le Poete” (the poet).
Simaro was a long-serving vice-president of grandmaster Franco Luambo Luanzo’s TPOK Jazz Band.
Meanwhile, Paris-based top Congolese musicians Nyboma Mwandido, Wuta Mayi, Cayen Madoka and Faya Tess are expected in Nairobi on Friday.
They are coming at the invitation of Cotu boss Atwoli for next week’s Labour Day celebrations and are expected to perform some songs in tribute to Simaro.
Another Congolese music legend, London-based veteran guitarist Mose Fan Fan, of the Papa Lolo hit song fame, arrived in Nairobi last Saturday for some recordings and will possibly also stage some shows.