Hordes of fans of legendary Congolese crooner Tabu Ley Rochereau across the world this weekend be marking the fourth anniversary of his death in a Belgian hospital that followed several years of a debilitating illness that silenced his lovely voice.
But this is no occasion for mourning and most radio and TV stations in Democratic Republic of Congo, the rest of Africa and, indeed, Europe and America, will dedicate some of their airtime to remembering one of Africa’s best musicians, by playing some of his favourite songs
For his Kenyan fans, the radio and TV sessions will be filled with nostalgia considering the particularly close attachment he had with this country. Not only did Tabu Ley have some of his children study here but he also recorded and produced some of his big hits in Nairobi.
This weekend, Tabu Ley’s fans will be remembering a man who not only gave them some beautiful tunes, but also showed them how to shake a leg to rumba.
In Nairobi, the major highlight will be a Tabu Ley tribute show dubbed “Remembering Tabu Ley” to be held today at Club Meladen and Restaurant in the Upper Hill today. The show will feature performances by the Afrosound Band led by Elvis Lola. An enthusiastic Lola promised mouth-watering action. The band has been rehearsing some of the biggest tunes by Tabu Ley which they will perform this evening.
Similar action is expected at the Dream Village Restaurant in Nairobi’s South B where the versatile Bilenge Musica Band led by Darze Kalend is also expected to dedicate part of the evening to performing Tabu Ley’s hits.
'THE BEST OF TABU LEY'
Rumba music fan Dan Ochieng, whose love for Lingala was enhanced during a three-year working stint in DRC, is promising a repertoire of the “ the best of Tabu Ley” at BeePee Lounge in Trans Towers, near KIMC, in Nairobi’s South B. Ochieng assured all Tabu Ley fans who will turn up that it will be an evening to be enriched entirely with some of the Tabu Ley classics right from the 1960s through to the 1980s.
Also, the Touchdown Club at Donholm in Nairobi’s Eastlands will host a Tabu Ley tribute this evening.
Expected to arrive in Nairobi on Tuesday will be Paris-based Kabose Bulembi, formerly with General Defao’s Big Stars Band and Orch Wenge Musica Maison Mere. He will stage his first show at Deep West Resort Club on December 8.
In Mombasa the Amitie Musica band of Crispine Tambwe will tonight perform at the Zaituni Club. Meanwhile. Amitie Musica B will be in action at the Leisure Resort Club also in Mombasa.
Veteran radio presenter Fred Obachi Machoka (Radio Citizen) , Titi Nagwala (Milele FM), Simeone Mfumu Kibangu (KBC) and Haggai Isanya ( Mulembe FM) are among those expected to dedicate this weekend’s radio rumba musical programmes to Tabu Ley’s music.
Tabu Ley’s fame saw him sire nearly 55 children with different women. Some children such Peguy, who is based in Paris, and his step sister Melodie, the daughter of songstress Mbilia Bel, would later in his life seek to inherit his prowess by inviting him to sing with them. Peguy has reissued a couple of his later father’s big song.
Another son Marc Modero is a journalist based in Europe.
Speaking to the Saturday Nation earlier this week, Modero said he would be liaising with some of his family members living in Seattle for a get-together this weekend.
Some of those expected include singers Dodo Munoko, Wawali Bonane, guitarist Nseka Huit Kilos and drummer Parigo.
They hope to be joined by some of Tabu Ley’s children living in USA like Pascal and Joe Tabu. “ We have ben laising with most family members and fans to join us during this weekend’s gathering,” Modero added.
It was in the USA in 1994 that he released the ever popular Muzina (the Lord’s Prayer) whose video he shot in Nairobi in 1995.
In Europe, some of Tabu Ley’s “musical orphans” who performed alongside him include veteran guitarist Dino Vangu, singers Faya Tess and Beyou Ceil. Most of them will be organising gatherings to celebrate the former band leader from today through to the weekend.
Back home in the DRC, Tabu Ley inspired many other singers like Sam Mangwana, Pepe Ndombe (deceased), Papa Wemba and Koffi Olomide who even did cover versions of several of Tabu Ley’ popular songs.