Tanzania-based veteran musician Remmy Ongala is dead

Tanzania-based veteran guitarist and singer Ramadhani (Remmy) Ongala, popularly known as Dr Remmy, is dead.

Ongalla died on Sunday evening at the age of 63, after battling with kidney failure and diabetes.

Dr Remmy, who left hospital recently, was scheduled to meet a specialist at Regency hospital in Dar es Salaam Monday.

According to his son Thomas Ongala, the family decided to take him to hospital after his condition worsened.

Though he was scheduled to meet the specialist, we decided that he should be taken to the hospital from where he could wait for his appointment,” said Thomas.

“His condition worsened to the extent that he was unable to speak and we decided to rush him to the hospital, where they told us that his sugar level was too high,” he added.

A popular band

Thomas told Tanzania's The Citizen that his father's kidneys had already been cleaned four different times before, and the family decided to change his hospital.

Dr Remmy was born in 1947 in the Kivu region of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, which at that time was known as Belgian Congo.

His family lived at Kindu, near the Tanzanian border. Shortly after Remmy was born, they relocated to Kisangani, to the north.

In 1978, Remmy was invited by an uncle to the Tanzanian capital Dar es Salaam, to join Orchestra Makassy, a popular band led by Mzee Makassy, who was also from the Congo.

Later, Remmy established his own band, Orchestra Super Matimila, whose more popular numbers include include Kifo (death), Ndumila kuwili (don't speak with two mouths), Mnyonge hana haki (the poor have no rights), plus Mambo kwa socks, a song which urged people to use condoms during sex. But the song was banned for what were referred to as ethical reasons.

Thomas said that the family was still waiting for other members, who are outside of the country, but the funeral will be either Wednesday or on Thursday.

Dr Remmy is survived by a widow Toni and several children.

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