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Les Mangelepa finds new nest for concerts in Kajiado County

Friday August 23 2019

Les Mangelepa

The legendary Nairobi-based Les Mangelepa Band. PHOTO | COURTESY 

AMOS NGAIRA
By AMOS NGAIRA
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The ever-green Les Mangelepa, one of the  longest surviving Congolese bands based in Kenya for several decades, has found a new base in Kajiado County.

Its diehard fans and new recruits will soon be flocking to Ongata  Rongai on Nairobi's southern outskirts, which is popularly referred to as the “diaspora”. This is because the area, with its mushrooming residential estates and homes, houses many people who commute to Nairobi daily to work.

RHUMBA FANS

The band has over the years recorded some chart-busting songs, including, Embakasi, Nyako Konya, Walter, Maindusa, and Mimba.

Next Friday, the group led by veteran singer and composer Kabila Kabanze, will highlight the official launch of the new  Hotel Tembo and Club, which is located near the  Chief’s Camp  in Ongata Rongai.

For rhumba fans in the area and its environs, the club will from next weekend have Les Mangelepa as its resident band. Apart from music entertainment, the facility will also be offering conference facilities.

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According to Kabila, this will be the group’s first permanent base since they left the  Club Citizen Vibro, off Lang'ata Road, in Nairobi, back in 2016.

“For the past three years, we have been mainly involved in overseas concert tours. Now, our fans in Ongata  Rongai, Nairobi and its environs can be assured of seeing more of us on stage," Kabila added.

Last year, Les Mangelepa took part in music festivals in various European cities, putting on scintillating shows that wowed mixed crowds of ardent lovers of African music.

They also participated in the Lamu Arts Festival 2019. This was the first time for them to perform in the  coastal music festival.

Kabila said they have been getting invitations to perform at summer festivals in Europe, which has kept them busy.

“Many of our fans have been asking about our whereabouts and we are glad to have found a new venue to entertain them," he explained.

He teams up with his long-term associates, and fellow singers Kalenga Nzazi and Lutulu Kanicky.

Also popularly referred to as the “Last Band Standing” among its hordes of fans, Mangelepa has a rich and expansive discography dating back to the late 1970s. 

Last month, Les Mangelepa, which was an offshoot of the Baba Nationale Band that was led by the legendary Baba Illunga wa  Illunga, marked its 43rd anniversary.

Some of the band's former members, including Japan-based saxophone maestro Tabu Ngongo, former band leader Bwammy Walumona, who lives in Norway, and Twikale wa Twikwale were in Nairobi and teamed with their former colleagues to remember the good old days and reminisce on how it all began in the early 1970s .

Though they didn't stage a concert, it was an opportunity for them to share a lot on their experiences for over the years.

Some of the other former members include Mukala Coco Kanyinda (London), Kasongo Fundi (Canada), Mukala Bebe  and Kawele Mutinamwa, who is based in England.

As Kabila said they had been engaged in rehearsals in the  recent past, gearing up for the  grand opening of the Hotel Tembo.

Those expected to grace the opening show includes Lolwe TV Rhumba music presenter Nancie Mamafrika Elombe, rhumba producer Steve Mwinamo Junior and musician Ken Makokha.

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