In Summary
  • In 1976, the then youthful members of the band arrived with an older compatriot at the city'sInn on the Park Restaurant at Uhuru Park before relocating to Garden Square Restaurant.
  • Veteran band leader Kabila Kabanze said though the 43rd anniversary was not marked with a concert, they members met and bonded.

Mangelepa were once the top Congolese band in Nairobi. Over the years, most of the band members have left. Some have since died.

This year, however, the band is marking its 43rd anniversary by returning to where it all started - in Nairobi.

In 1976, the then youthful members of the band arrived with an older compatriot at the city'sInn on the Park Restaurant at Uhuru Park before relocating to Garden Square Restaurant.

GARDEN SQUARE

Last week, former members of the group met in Nairobi for a reunion at Garden Square. This same spot was once home to Orch Les Wanyika, an outfit that comprised Tanzanians and Kenyans. Orch Les Mangelepa was then rivalled in popularity by groups such as Orch Super Mazembe and Samba Mapangala’s Orch Les Kinois.

July has always been a special month for members of Mangelepa, who often take time to reflect on the band’s enduring heritage.

Veteran band leader Kabila Kabanze said though the 43rd anniversary was not marked with a concert, they members met and bonded.

The group was formed following the split of Baba Nationale Band that was led by the burly Baba Gaston Ilunga wa Illunga. Incidentally, it was Illunga who took most of these musicians through eastern DR Congo, Tanzania and on to Kenya.

“Though some of the band members live in other countries today, we are considering recording some songs together,” says Kabila Kabanze.

HIT SONGS

Among the group’s songs released soon after leaving Baba Gaston were Mbungu and Kijana, both of which were composed Mukala Kanyinda “Coco”. It was Kanyinda, who also penned the soothing Aoko and Sakina hit songs.

Still going strong in Nairobi four decades later, Kabila regularly teams up with three of his fellow long-serving Les Mangelepa vocalists, Kalenga Nzazi “Vivi’ and Lutulu Kanicky “Macky”.

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