Congo honours cultural icon Tabu Ley By JUAKALI KAMBALE in Kinshasa | Tuesday, November 13   2012 at  09:11

Congolese music giant Pascal Tabu Ley Rochereau.  FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Congolese music giant Pascal Tabu Ley Rochereau is in Kinshasa to accept an award for his contribution to the country's rich heritage and cultural diplomacy.

The performer, whose popular hits like Muzina, Maze and Sorozo rocked millions of fans in Africa, is a celebrated musician, whose songs continue to enjoy airplay years after they were released.

In the past, Tabu Ley unsuccessfully tried his hand in politics, after he was appointed a Cabinet minister by President Laurent Kabila in 1997 and a later nominated to parliament.

Earlier, the Rhumba artiste, who refused to be President Mobutu Sese Seko's court poet, was forced into exile.

In the last couple of years, he has been living in Paris, France receiving medical care.

Tabu Ley is is one of the few of his generation of musicians, who included Joseph Kabasele, alias Grand Kallé or Nicolas Kasanda, alias Nico.

He launched his career in Kinshasa in 1959 both as a composer, signer and dancer, in Joseph Kabasele’s African Jazz Band and officially ended it in 2009.

The award

According to the organisers of the award ceremony Tuesday is scheduled to coincide with his birthday expected to be a big event, which should last about six months.

Also expected top grace the occasion are other big DRC musicians who live abroad. They include Sam Mangwana and Dino Vangu, alias Guvano, who performed with Tabu Ley for a long time.

“This is the best way we plan to immortalise this famous artist,” Jean Claude Mwisa, one of the organisers said.

Two gala performances are planned for November 24 in Kinshasa and November 30 in Brazzaville, in the neighbouring Republic of Congo.

It is not known yet if Tabu Ley will perform with his Afrisa International band during the two gala evenings.

In an earlier interview in Paris with a DR Congo newspaper Le Potentiel, the musician said he was in good health.

“I feel very well as you can notice. As per my doctors, my health conditions are improving every day. The thing is that I have to accept my current condition with good-naturedness. I am 72 years old and find it normal to face some physical weaknesses. I am a Christian and trust in God,” he declared.

Tabu Ley composed around 2,000 songs and produced 250 albums.