Good Times (For The Love Of Music)

While searching for informations about the African records bought in 1983 some years ago I came across this text by Joseph Simiyu Wegesa from 1999. When I tried to check the link again the website was gone. It's an interesting piece so I repost it here for you:

My name is Bolingo, at least that is what everybody calls me.  I am the owner of Club Cheza in Nairobi and I offer a good time to all who come in here.  After work, when you are tired and ready to relax, you can come into Club Cheza and unwind with a bottle of  Tusker, White Cap or Pilsner beer.  If you have a problem and just need someone to talk to, I'll listen while you sip a Cinzano on the rocks.  On a weekend you can come in to have fun at Club Cheza when I spin the best dance music the world can offer.  Good times is what I'm all about.  You need it, I offer it.

All kinds of people come in here.  Most of them have some kind of problem they want to talk to me about.  Samuel over there is a Permanent Secretary.  He is married to two wives but has never brought either of them in here.  Right now he has two beautiful women at his sides.  They are drinking and laughing at his sorry jokes then when he is drunk enough, they will pick his wallet and leave him broke, drunk and headed for home to his poor wives.  I feel sorry for him, but I feel even sorrier for his wives and children.

Sandeki there is the vice chairman on the board of a major manufacturing company.  He is married to a young, beautiful wife whom he brings in here every Saturday evening.  I like him because he is faithful.  Also because he leaves me big tips.  At the end of the month, he treats everyone in the place to a drink.  If he ran for office, he would win on a landslide.  Sandeki is a popular man.

Jonas comes in for the music.  He, like myself, loves Lingala music, especially from what we both fondly call, the Lingala Decade; 1967 to 1977.  On Saturdays, he comes in at noon and we sit down to talk music.  Since both of us are teetotalers, we sip on Fanta's and hold in-depth discussions about the early days when Tabu Ley Rocherou sang for the late Dr. Nico on the magnificent, Kiri Kiri, a brief but beautiful song with great guitar work and smooth vocals. About Johnny Bokelo Isenge who gave us a long string of dance hits with such incredible guitar work that you wondered how a human being could do that with his fingers.

We talked about Kiamangwana Wazolamboga Mateta 'Verkys' who in 1969 produced the hit, Mfumbwa with his band Veve that ushered in a new age of lengthy dance songs that utilized both sides of the 45 single.  Verkys also formed the label, Editions Veve that brought forth a whole slew of new bands with young talented artists.

In the early seventies, Orchestra Veve gave us such hits as Lukani, Baluti and Yanini.  Baluti had a beautiful jazzy saxophone solo that blew my mind.  Orchestra Lipua Lipua presented Nouvelle Generation, probably our most favorite song.  It had great vocals, different solo bridges, excellent drum work and choruses.  This was the beginning of a 'new wave' style that Lipua Lipua started with  hits of cuts including Mbondo, Mombassa, and Temperature.  Orchestra Kiam jumped on the dance wagon with a danceable style that utilized the guitar and did not use horns at all.  Songs like Moni Afinda and Mbale were classics but Memi is my favorite tune of theirs.  Members of Lipua Lipua, mainly Nyboma  Muandindo and Mulembu Tshibau and Kinzunga Ricos left to form Les Kamale, a band that featured Nyboma's sweet vocals as well as amazing guitar and drum work.  Ngali, Ayi Djo and Abisinia are among their classic hits but Asana Muana Maua with its slow, smooth vocals is unforgettable.

Mulembu moved on to form Orchestra Fuka Fuka and produced the hit, Bitota  while Nyboma advanced on to a successful solo career.  Other notable bands included the Vangu brothers' Bella Bella which gave us Horoscope, Kumisa Ngai, Sola and the incredible Koko. A young unknown called Kanda Bongo Man sang in Bella Bella before later on embarking on a very successful solo career.  Orchestra Shama Shama gave us Okomi Kolangwa, Shama Shama and Pamaphi, danceable tracks with harmonies and extensive use of the high hat.  Orchestra Mangelepa gave us Embakasi, Mimba, Mangelepa Kamili, Pambana Pambana and the delightful Kasuku.  This was a good time band that resided in Kenya.  Orchestra Super Mazembe gave us Shida, Mwana Mazembe, Kasongo and Amina.  Orchestra Grand Piza produced Muana Maua and Mandalala.   And Orchestra Sentima gave us Cetoyene and Bosoneli.

While these young bands were producing hits almost every week, stalwarts like Luambo Makiadi Franco who is the greatest African musician that ever lived and Tabu Ley along with Pepe Kalle, two giants, continued to produce remarkable music.  Of course, there was a lot of  wonderful music after 1977.  Tabu Ley introduced Mbilia Bel, a remarkable woman with a wonderful voice and amazing style who could also dance.  She boosted Tabu Ley's career and created her own.
Even though I provide a good time for all, there have been problems in recent times.  The AIDS catastrophe hit it big around here.  It has been like a savage beast devouring everything in its path.  I have lost a lot of friends and relatives to this deadly and mysterious disease.  The most dangerous aspect of the disease is ignorance.  A lot of people did not believe they could get infected.

Sembi, a friend of mine, contracted the virus from a prostitute.  He passed it on to his wife.  Within a year, both of them were dead leaving their four young children orphans.  There have been a lot of orphaned children around these days and most of it has been caused by men who go out and contract the disease then bring it home to their unsuspecting wives.  I have gone so far as to post notices on the premises proclaiming safe sex.

My cousin Justus had just gotten married not suspecting that his dear wife had the terrible virus.  Their newborn baby was the first to die followed by its mother.  Justus lived longer but it was a horrendous final period of time for him as he suffered from the ravaging disease.  By the time the end came, he had been reduced to an infant both physically and mentally.  Curled up in a fetal position, he was in great pain begging to be killed to end it all.  What a catastrophe.  I had nightmares about that for many nights.  I hope that a cure is found soon.  In the meantime, I hope people can protect themselves by practicing safe sex or staying faithful to their partners.  This is a totally preventable disease.

I am sorry if I depressed you there but that had to be said.  We all have to keep reminding ourselves that even though there is no cure for AIDS, we can prevent it from spreading further.  This is a disease that could easily wipe out an entire generation of humans.

Anyway, it is Saturday night, Koffi Olomide's Loi is blaring out of the speakers and the dance hall is crowded with people doing the Ndombolo dance.  I watch them all and feel proud because there are a lot of problems today and people need some time to take that heavy load off their minds and just relax.  I am here to provide that relaxation for them.  I am here to make sure you travel into a different dimension, even if it is only for two or three hours, where problems and careers disappear and all you can feel is the great music and a sense of relief.  Come to Club Cheza for a good time.

PS: I just found out it's also reposted at www.africanmusicforum.com/community/congolese_rhumba_soukous/good_times_for_the_love_of_music_by_joseph_simiyu_wegesa-t1447.0.html with videos of the mentioned songs.

1 Kommentar:

Anonym hat gesagt…

luvly Music and a great deal of information! Thanx for that, dear bread bag!

Also discovered African music in 1983 via John Peel's Music on BFBS (Wednesday night an 9 p. m. as far as I remember) and though I have to admit that in the first instance being annoyed by the occasional African trax interrupting the usual Punk/Post-Punk sounds I had been coming for, I began to like those jingle jangle from Zimbabwe, Kongo and Senegal pretty soon. Like on a Bad Brains album, 2 fast trax and then again a peace of laid back Reggae....and still listen to the tapes recorded from the radio then.

nice trip down memory lane, I'm tempted 2 say, anonymus no. 2