A special tribute was paid to former members of the legendary Congolese band, Zaiko Langa Langa, at a show last night in Paris, France.
The concert had been organised by veteran Paris-based music producer Wa Mukelenge Mukelenge as an honour to both the living and deceased stars, who performed with the then versatile outfit at various times.
The original Zaiko Langa, which started as a college band in Kinshasa in 1969, has over the years excelled as one of the best Congolese dance groups.
Among those in the frontline of the formation of the group were D.V. Moanda, who mobilised some of the earlier members such as Nyoka Longo, Bimi Ombale, Zamuanguna , Mavuela Somo, Matima Piossi, Bozi Boziana, Papy Felix Manuaku, Papa Wemba, Mbuta Mashakado , Teddy Sukami, Evoloko Jocker and Likinga Redo.
The group would in later years be joined by others stars such as Nsungi Lenga Lenga, Dindo Yogo, Meridjo, Ilo Pablo, Shekedan, Baroza , JP Buse, Petit Poisson, and Beniko Popolipo .
It brought a brand new sound to an entertainment scene that had been dominated by an earlier musical generation in DR Congo that had such greats as Grand Kalle, Franco Luambo Luanzo Makiadi and Tabu Ley.
Speaking recently to Nation by telephone from Paris, Makulenge said it had always been his ambition to keep alive the spirit of the Zaiko Langa Langa band, which has through the years suffered various splits, resulting in factions that, ironically, went on to churn out great hits.
“This is a show which I have been planning to bring together long-time fans of Zaiko Langa Langa living in Europe” he said.
For the past three months, Mukelenge has been arranging rehearsal sessions for the big Zaiko concert to be held at the Shaha Nawaz Palace in Paris.
Last Saturday, a section of former Zaiko Langa Langa members living in Europe held their final rehearsal. Among those who took part in it were Uncle Bapius, Adamo, Malage Lugendo, Popolipo, Jimmy Yaba, Bozi Boziana, Gina Efonge, and Deo Brondo .
The group has lately extended its wide discography of their catch-up tempo beats ranging from the late 1960s. Among them were “Sentiment Awa”, “Sandralina”, “Muvaro”, ”Mbeya Mbeya”, “Pusa Kuna”, “Jetez I’Eponge”, and “Zaiko Eyi Nkisi”.
Zaiko has always been fondly been referred as the proponents of the third generation of Congolese. The first two included forerunners of Congolese Rhumba music such as Wendo Kolosoy, and Grand Kalle Jeff, and later, Franco Luambo Makiadi, Tabu Ley, Vicky Longomba and guitar wizard Dr Nico Kasanda.
Breakups seemed to inspired even more creativity, the bitterness of long-time allies parting ways, notwithstanding.
The many offshoots of the Clan Langa Langa include Grand Zaiko (led by Manuaku Waku), Isifi Lokole and Yoka Lokole (featuring Papa Wemba, Evoloko Jocker, Boizo Bozian and Mavuela Somo), Via la Musica (Papa Wemba), Anti-Choc (Bozi Boziana), Langa Langa Stars, Zaiko Langa Nkolo Mboka (Nyoka Longo), Zaiko Langa Langa Familia Dei, Ngwaka Aye, Les Quatros De Langa Langa, and Zaire All Stars.
Though most of the splinter groups are no longer in existence, the surviving ones have carried on with the spirit of keeping the Zaiko Langa Langa name alive.
One of the most notable splits was in 1989, when Nyoka Longo and Bimi Ombale severed ties. Longo led Zaiko Langa Langa -Nkolo Mboka, while Bimi was at the helm in Zaiko Langa Langa Familia Dei.
Some members of the original Zaiko Langa Langa group in 1987 toured Kenya alongside Franco Luambo Makiaidi and his TP Ok Jazz Bnad to perform during the Torch Relay Concert of the All Africa Games.
In 1990 some members of Zaiko Langa Langa Familia Dei, featuring JP Buse, Lenga Lenga, Petit Poisson, Illo Pablo and Jimmy Yaba toured Kenya courtesy of Tamukati Productions.
Tamukati Ndongala (deceased) was a suave Congolese music promoter, who introduced many of his compatriots to the fans in Kenya and elsewhere in East Africa from the early 1990s, with well-organised and attended concerts.