They moved hearts

There is no denying that yester-year rumba or Kanindo bands’ strength was in the weight of their lyrics. Here one can talk about Orchestra Super Mazembe whose song ‘Shauri Yako’ can still rock hearts, writes WONDER GUCHU

One of the greatest ever Kanindo groups to emerge from the Congolese rumba groups’ movement to Kenya was Orchestra Super Mazembe – earth-mover.
For those who may be wondering what Orchestra Super Mazembe is, they should ask Namibians who stayed in east Africa during apartheid about this group whose super hits still conjure up sweet memories.
This is the group which spawned the all-time hit ‘Shauri Yako’, which in Swahili means ‘that’s your fault’. There is also Bwana Nipe Pesa something to do with seeking comfort in God.  Shida’ (problems) also is a great hit.
The group’s epic song ‘Shauri Yako’, which loosely means it’s up to you (to go or stay) is about a lover who tells his girlfriend, Zena, to either hit the road or stay because he can’t afford her expensive tastes.
‘If I steal they will jail me . . . If I kill for money it is against God's law. . . You want to eat nice things but I have no money. You want to wear good clothes by I don't have money . . . My Zena…I can’t steal . . . they will jail me . . . I can’t kill, it’s sin. It’s up to you . . . Oooh . . . it up to you . . . you can go away . . .’ the song says.
Orchestra Super Mazembe grew from the ashes of the Congolese band, Super Vox which arrived in Nairobi by road in 1974, seven years after its formation in Likasi.
The group was led by Mutonkole Longwa Didos alongside Lovy Longomba (brother to Awilo Longomba); Atia Jo (real name Frederick Mulunguluke Mwanza; Rapok Kayembe Miketo; Kassongo wa Kanema; Fataki Lokassa; Kilambe Katele Aley; Komba Kassongo Songoley; Bukasa wa Bukasa; Dodo Dorris; Lobe Mapako; Rondo wa Kandolo; Mwanza wa Mwanza; Loboko Bua Mangala; Musa Olokwiso Mangala and Kitenge Ngoi wa Kitombole.
During a tour of Zambia in the early 1970s, the group that also went by the name Bana Mushosho had to change its name to Orchestra Super Mazembe after the man, Nashil Pichen Kazembe, who later became their manager, suggested it.
Kazembe, a Zambian was an ardent supporter of the DRC football club TP Mazembe pleaded with the members to make the change.
The Zambian was also instrumental in moving the group to Nairobi in 1975 where they pitched up camp at Club Madunis, which later became known as Florida.
The group also signed with EMI a year later when they released ‘Kasongo’ but their road to fame was halted when EMI shut down leaving the group to seek another recording studio which also did not last.
Just like many other rumba groups at the time, Super Vox had a lot of members coming and leaving such that with time, they had to change name to Orchestra Super Mazembe.
For example, in 1981 at the heart of the group’s success, Lovy left to found his own group, Super Lovy, which later assumed the name Bana Likasi before his death 1996.
Kassongo wa Kanema also took off towards the direction of Orchestra Virunga while most of the group’s members were decimated by death.
Rapok Kayembe Miketo went in 1991; Mutonkole Longwa Didos followed in 1999; Komba Kassongo Songoley had his day in 1990 with others like Fataki Lokassa and Lobe Mapako going soon after. Atia Jo passed away in 2006.
Furthermore, the group suffered a heavy blow from piracy resulting them focusing on club circuit in 1982 until its slow and silent death after Loboko Pasi had led some group members to form Orchestra Mazembe Academia.
In 2006, some of the band members among them Kasongo wa Kanema and Loboko Pasi reunited together with new members Disco Longwa Ngoie, Zungu Chai, Malezia Mupia-Mupia and Pierro Kapamba. The group’s first shows were held in Mombasa.
The result of the reunion was the release of a remixed album featuring some of the band’s greatest hits including ‘Shauri Yako’.
This is the song that still rocks the circles of both the old and young alongside Les Wanyika’s ‘Sina Makosa’ another great love song about two married men fighting over a girl.

February 2013
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