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Assosa still going strong with Marquis du Zaire

Friday April 18 2014

Congolese musician Tshimanga Kalala Assosa.

Congolese musician Tshimanga Kalala Assosa. Born in Kamina, Katanga Province, on April 4, 1949, he first joined a church choir as a teen before proceeding to a technical college. PHOTO/FILE. 

By WAMBUA KIAWA

Growing up in his home country of DR Congo in the 1950s, Kalala Tshimanga Assosa never imagined himself as a full time musician in a band.

Born in Kamina, Katanga Province, on April 4, 1949, he first joined a church choir as a teen before proceeding to a technical college.

Then the musical bug bit him. He first joined a band known as Super Gabby. The band later moved to Tanzania and transformed itself into Marquis du Zaire.

In 1969, Assosa moved to Kinshasa and joined Negro Success, then led by Bavon Marie.

The band was disbanded when Marie died in a road accident.

He then joined Nyboma’s Lipua Lipua. Assosa filled in the vocal gap left by Pepe Kalle, who had left the band.

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They went on the release such hits as Nouvelle Generation, Mombasa, Fuga Fuga and Amba.

In 1973 Assosa formed Les Kamale together with Pierre Basikita, Kizunga, Ricos, Mule Mulembu, topping in the market with hits like Abbisina, Masua Ayidjo, Masudii, Andoya, Ditu and Zainabu.

The band was quite a success and acquired new instruments, until internal wrangling led to its break-up in 1978.

With Mule Mulembu, he then formed Orchestra Fuka Foka and they joined the exodus of Congolese bands eastwards as they crossed the border into Tanzania, settling in Dar es Salaam.

The group performed at Milimani Park Resort for six months, releasing songs like Bitota, Lomeka, Babo Kilo and Baba Asoya.

After their contract ended, they took a road trip back home in 1978 via Kenya and Uganda. But as they were about to take a flight home from Entebbe, Tanzanian forces invaded Uganda.

The airport was attacked and they had to flee, leaving all their music instruments behind.

The band was subsequently disbanded.

Assosa proceeded home and was there for three years until 1981 when Tanzanian businessman Joseph Mwakasala invited him to join Mlimani Park Orchestra, where he teamed up with Joseph Mulenga, Muhiddin Gurumo and Maalim Kinyasi.

Mulenga and Gurumo have since died.

He later joined Orchestra Makassy, where he teamed up with Mose Se Sengo (Fan Fan), a former TP Ok Jazz guitarist, and Kitenzogu ‘Mzee’ Makassy.

He produced a hit song, Mambo Bado, which topped the charts

He left briefly to form Orchestra Mambo Bado, but the band could not survive the tight competition from Marquis du Zaire and Safari Sound, and soon folded.

Assosa then joined Marquis du Zaire, where he has teamed up with Nguza Mbangu, Chinyama Chianza and Khatibu Itetei.

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