Veteran Congolese guitarist and composer Mose Se Sengo Fan Fan, of the “Papa Lolo” hit song fame, posthumously played a major role in his own final send-off, with some of his former colleagues using his songs to pay tribute to him.
This marked a special musical treat for the fallen music icon on June 8, 2019 in a solemn ceremony in the United Kingdom, his second home that would become his final resting place.
The burial at the Hendon Cemetery in London was unique, as rather than wallow in sorrow at his graveside, some of his former counterparts chose to send him off with his hit songs.
It was a rare send-off as his compatriots, rather than witness him being laid to rest silently, chose to sing some of his favourite compositions by his graveside.
Speaking to the Nation on Monday, his long-time associate, guitarist and composer Fiston Lusambo, who like Mose has also been based in London for many years, said they had opted to celebrate his life rather than just mourn him.
“Mose Fan Fan loved his songs, and as his former colleagues, we found it best to remember him by singing some of his tracks at his graveside," Mr Lusambo said.
The singing of the all-time big Mose Fan Fan songs “Dje Melasi” and “Papa Lolo” was led by crooner Nzaya Nzayadio and Rissa Rissa.
The nostalgic “Dje Melasi’ was one of Mose Fan fans’s foremost compositions, which he released in 1973, while he was with Franco Luambo Makiadi’s TP OK Jazz band.
According to his fellow Congolese musicians, the song was the musician's dedication to his former partner and the mother of his daughter, who lives in France today.
The song, which features crooner Prince Youlou Mabiala on the lead vocals, propelled Mose to fame as a guitarist and composer in TPOK Jazz.
Last Saturday, it was even more emotional for his fellow Congolese musicians, who sang the evergreen “Papa Lolo” hit. It has vivid lyrics, which were dedicated to Mose's son, who died and was allegedly buried at an unknown location.
Though he lived outside DR Congo for most of his musical career, Mose Fan Fan maintained close ties with some of his former colleagues back home, notably former long-serving TPOK vice-president Lutumba Simaro Massiya.
Incidentally, Simaro was buried in Kinshasa two days after Mose Fan Fan, who was on a recording mission to Kenya and Tanzania, collapsed and died in Nairobi, early last month.
In an uncanny coincidence, Mose Fan was laid to rest away from his home country, DR Congo, just like in the “Papa Lolo" lyrics. In the song, he lamented about the plight of his son, who was laid to rest at an undisclosed spot and in his absence.
Having lived in the UK since the mid-1980s, he had acquired British citizenship, and hence the decision to bury him in London.
The popularity of the “Papa Lolo" song was also evident in the emblazoning of his portrait on his coffin with that title.
In Kenya, this is the song that has in recent years propelled him to dizzying heights of fame and popularity amongst music fans of all ages.
His funeral service was held at the Hendon Cemetery, where widow Angelique Bliungwa Nsanga, and his younger sister, France-based retired actress Massaka Ma Nzunga Gabrielle, led fellow mourners.
Later that evening, a tribute concert was staged in the Jabo Hall, bringing together mourners from various cities in England and elsewhere in Europe. They included Nickens Nkoso, Nzaya Nzayadio, Rissa Rissa, Djuna Mumbafu, Burkina Faso, Douglas Kibs, and Sadi Tumba,
Lusambo said: "We chose to end the day with a show in his honour and also wish that his musical spirit lives on.”