REMEMBERING CONGO’S RUMBA KING
BBC News, Kinshasa
When Franco Luambo Makiadi died 20 years ago,
the whole of Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic
Republic of Congo (then Zaire), stood still.
The death of the undisputed king of rumba was
a shock to millions of people not just in
his home country, but across Africa.
In his 40-year music career, Franco, as he was
commonly known, had more than 100 albums
and about a thousand songs to his name.
His style of music, a blend of Cuban rumba
and authentic Congolese rhythms, wowed both
the old and young.
His influence can still be heard in Congolese music,
which remains popular in nightclubs
all over the continent.
Most of his hits were done in the 1970s but
they still get a lot of airplay on Africa's radio
stations – and in East Africa most FM stations
have dedicated weekly or daily programmes
to rumba, thanks to Franco.
His aunt Elizabeth Masaka, who in her 90s still lives
in his home village of Sona Bata in western DR Congo,
says from a tender age Franco showed
all the signs that he would become a musician.
"As he was growing up he loved playing
the guitar very much.
I remember he even made one out of
a tin and strings – he would carry it along
to school and the market where
he would entertain his friends," she told the BBC.
"I knew he would be a great musician."
When he moved with his parents to Kinshasa,
the young Franco seemed to have already
made up his mind to scale the musical heights.--
Sent from Kigali, Rwanda
Posted by Jean-Louis Kayitenkore at 11:47 PM