Of all the bands that immigrated to East Africa, Super Mazembe has stood the test of time.
Also famously known as Bana Mushosho they have had an unmatched legacy of dance and style led by Longwa Didos. Super Mazembe started in 1969 in Likasi as Super Vox but on tour of neighboring Zambian 1970,the band met Nashil Pichen Kazembe,a diehard supporter of one of Zaire’s top football clubs and TP Mzembe,who impressed on the band to change its name from Vox to Mazembe(meaning earth mover).Kazembe subsequently become the band’s producer and manager and encouraged the band to move to Nairobi which had better recording facilities.The band hit the road to Nairobi in 1974, through Tanzania, just as many a Congolese band did back then.
Mazembe’s fortunes changed upon arrival in Nairobi in 1975.While they entertained patrons at Club Madunis(today’s Florida)where they were based they had their sights on recording more successful than they had hitherto done. In 1976, they signed up with EMI Record and released perhaps their greatest song to date-"Kasongo".
Super Mazembe’s ride to fame was interrupted when EMI closed shop in 1978.It also meant parting ways with their producer, kanindo.They moved to Al Records where they began to work with producer Felix Jakong’o for the next three years, but soon hit another obstacle when record sales slumped due to piracy. In 1982, Super Mazembe stopped recording altogether and concentrated on performing although they variously released songs as Bana Likassy.
Little was heard of Super Mazembe thereafter until 2006 when Kasongo wa Kanema decided to revive the dream.
"I did not want the band to die. Many people in their 30’s were asking for Mazembe songs and the music was not available on CD so we had to do something” says wa Kanema, who joined the band in 1978".
“The result was a modernized rearrangement of some of Super Mazembe’s greatest hits that sound just as fresh as when they were recorded 20-30 years ago".
This Greatest Hits remix relives the days when Bana Mushosho ruled East Africa’s live band scene with their Belly-Bottom outfits. But it is also carefully arranged to meet the taste of the contemporary lover of Rumba.
This remix features bandleader Kasongo wa Kanema and new generation of successors of Mazembe founders: Disco Longwa(Longwa’s son),Allain Maindu,Morris Kasongo(Kasongo’s son),Maranatha,Edino,Soleil,Gideon and Vicky Numbi.
The Band was poised to release a new album of their latest compositions in 2008 with the original Super Mazembe Band that comprised of Longwa Mutonkole Didos(band leader),Kasongo wa Kanema,Loboko Pasi Julie,Lovy Longomba,Dodo Doris,Katele Aley(vocalist);Bukasa Bukalos,Petit Musa,Rondo Kandolo,Kayemba Rapok and Atia Joe who passed on while this project was underway.
Ngoie Kazembe, stage name Rocky Bila begun his music career in 1978 in primary school at Notre Dame Fatima in Kolwezi, DRC, where he was inspired by one of his teachers to start playing the guitar.
Rocky went on to form his own band in 1979 while in technical college. Bankoli band had 10 members and played Congolese music, rumba and seben, in schools to entertain students and teachers.
Rocky left the technical school and moved from Kolwezi to Lubumshi to study electrical engineering. While there he joined another band called Kokoli Elela and the campus band (Les Kassapar) where he was studying as a lead guitarist where he played for 5 years. He also played for other bands while in Lubumshi. He played for the Railway Corporation of Congo band called Cheli jazz during his campus days with, among others artists Abeti Masikini, Lokua Kanza, Kazadi Zadios, and Mpongo Love.
When Emeneya, the bandleader of Kokoli Elela completed studies and joined Viva la musica band, Rocky formed his own band (1987) called Sonoria Baugel with 14 members. He started playing in clubs in Lubumbashi before heading to Zambia on contract in 1991 to play at Farm House Club in Kitwe. He also played in Ndola, Lusaka and other parts of Zambia.
In 1994, he moved to Tanzania as a guitarist in a band that broke off from the Maquiz du Zaire band famed for hits like Karubandika and formed the Carnival band. He played alongside Bobo Sukali, Lesasa Jocker together whom they embarked on the mission of taking their music to Kenya,
Lesasa left followed by Bobo then Rocky in 1995, all of them ending up in Bilenge Musica, where Rocky played the solo guitar. His dexterity on the guitar soon earned him the respect of colleagues who referred to him as ‘Rocky bila meno juu ya waya’. The band toured Ethiopia, Dubai and Tanzania among other places. In 1997, when Wenge Musica toured Kenya, it is Rocky who stood in for their missing solo guitarist.
Rocky Bila left Bilenge in 2001 and played for a series of recording projects and solo artistes among them Kidum’s Boda Boda band, Eric Wainaina’s Mapinduzi Band, Suzanna Owiyo, Jaguar, Oliver Mtukudzi, Tabu Osusa, Super Mazembe and Les Mangelepa. In 2002, he formed his own band, Basi-tu (also known as Flame Band) of which he remains the leader. An eclectic guitarist, composer and producer, Rocky plays a wide range of music styles from Lingala to afro-fusion and traditional, which is captured on this, his first, album.
Rocky won a BBC award for human rights composition for the song Haki ya watoto. His second album is expected in 2012.
Habel Kifoto is no doubt one of Kenya’s music legends and highly regarded pioneers.
He founded the Maroon Commandos band of the Kenya 7th Kenyan rifles then based at Gilgil barracks on October 1,1970. In January 1st, he remained its continuous bandleader for 32 years. While other bands were collapsing and breaking up in the 80s and the 90s, Kifoto steered the Maroon Commandos to remain Kenya’s most consistent and decorated band, with an unmatched string of hits. During his time,Kifoto not only composed and sung most of Maroon's greatest hits, but was also instrumental in grooming and recruiting other musicians into the band. Kifoto retired on September 30,2002. Senior Sergent Kifoto passed the mantle to a new crop of dedicated musicians, led by Tuesday Oguro, who continued the tradition.
An all-round musician, Kifoto played lead and solo guitars, keyboards, sax and sung on most of the bands releases composed by him or his contemporaries, among them Laban Ochuka (RIP) and David Kibe. After his retirement Kifoto passed his time minding the welfare of fellow musicians as the elected chairman of the Music Copyright Society of Kenya till his death on July 31st 2011.
This double CD compilation features Habel Kifoto’s greatest hits recorded over a span of 20 years and constitutes the greatest musical legacy of Maroon Commandos. They included Sighenyi Sheshe, his first composition recorded in 1969; Charonyi ni wasi, the undoubtedly the bands greatest single recorded in 1978 that won a silver disc (1981) after selling 30,000 copies within three months; the familiar anthem Uvivu mbaya (1981); Christina and Riziki, title track of two classic albums released in quick succession in the 1980s that won accolades.
Man Ingwe was born Anderson Ambindi Murunga on January 17, 1980, the fifth in a near football team of 10 children.
Eshilakwe, Bushiri, mwitoti, St. Peter’s Mumias boys and Shikoti mixed primary school all have his name in their registers. While at Kakamega high school drama festivals and music festivals were his best moments in school. He won awards in best tenor solo categories and best soloist in traditional dance all the way up to national level.
In 2000, despite being a student of biochemistry, his passion for music could not be subdued. He joined traditional dance as soloist and also performed the tenor solo, which he won in 2001.
Man Ingwe graduated in 2004, when he was teaching part time in Penuel High School and trying a hand in business by running the school cafeteria.
He later joined Dliverance Church, Kahawa Sukari, as a pastoral intern. “ I worked with the youth ministry, handled administrative duties and also assisted the senior pastor with pastoral duties and programmes,” he says.
“ I also worked as a research assistant for the Africa centre for missions where we conducted research on church and social related matters to advice the church on the need to plant more churches and customize the gospel to all spectrums of society.” Man Ingwe later joined Faulu Kenya as a development finance officer as he simultaneously established a recording studio and launched his Yanza music and Media Company Ltd.
He subsequently worked for Safaricom as a customer care representative before leaving in August 2010 to pursue music as a full time career.
Besides singing for the Lord, Man Ingwe is the Senior Pastor at Progressive Church, Kitengela. He aims to be Africa’s finest brand of gospel music, saturating the media with what he calls, “Godly, inspiring, entertaining and educative content.”
Born in 1980 to a traditional performer, Diwani has practically lived as a musician. During his childhood, he attended several traditional ceremonies and watched his father entertain huge gatherings. He quickly learned his father’s skill and while in Takaye Primary School he took his first step into the professional music industry with the Magazine’s Band.
Together with the band, Diwani, then only 14 years of age performed at Eden Rock during the Italian Night. The band continued performing for tourists for a couple of years but when the tourism industry deteriorated in the late 90s, they decided to move to Nairobi where they performed at Pan Afrique hotel for 2 years before splitting.
In 2002, Diwani joined the legendary Maroon Commandos and was consequently recruited and trained as a soldier in the Kenya Army. Although he is still an active member of the band, in 2007 Diwani explored his unique feel of beat and rhythm releasing his debut album “Nihendedze” a 12 track album with a compelling blend of modernity and Giriama Traditions expressed in the thrilling fusion of instruments from both influences.
Together with Maroon Commandos, Diwani has performed in a variety of events including state functions and was instrumental in the band’s release of “ Shika kamba” and “ Kenya Unite” albums.
Diwani describes his music as Contemporary Giriama Afro Fusion owing to his smooth blend of modern drums, guitars, saxophones and the traditional Msondo, Marimba, Chivoti, Bung’o and Nzumari. He plays around with traditional Giriama grooves like Chela, Mabumbumbu, Chechemeko and Vinyago beat to create a new contemporary version that defines him.
Legendary Kenyan band Maroon Commandos is indeed one of East Africa's finest bands!
The group was formed in 1970 by bandleader Habel Kifoto other members. The next year they signed with Polydor Kenya and released the hit "Emily". In 1972 the band had a traffic accident, which left some of their members dead. After the accident the band was dormant for five years before releasing their album Raziki Haivatu after 1977. They also released the song "Charonyi ni Wasi", sung in Taita language, which became a major hit.
The band had a 10-year recording break which ended with the release of "Shika Kamba" album in 2007, released by the Sound Africa label.
The band has had several line-up changes since its formation. Former bandleader Habel Kifoto has retired from the military and is currently (as of 2009 )the chairman of Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK). One of its former core members, David Kibe Left the band after he rose in the military ranks and had no more time for the band. Another former member was Laban Ochuka, who also played for another army band, the Ulinzi Orchestra. Ochuka died in May 2006.
The current bandleader is Diwani Nzaro. From late 90's he was part of the Malindi-based "Magazines" band, that disbanded in 2002. He subsequently joined Kenyan Army and their band Maroon Commandos. He contributed for the two latest albums of the group, Shika Kamba and Kenya Unite. While still a band member, he released his debut solo album in 2009. On the album he performs traditional giriama songs. THe group has also had female members, like singers Doris Chepchumba Tanui and Barbara Chepkoech Kiprotich .
2011 also saw the release of Juliani's highly anticipated second LP, 'Pulpit Kwa Street' (PKS). Already dubbed a ''classically definitive record'' by the likes of Jeff Koinange , Kanjii Mbugua and more, PKS has once again showcased Juliani's remarkable ability in so perfectly capturing people's hearts musically, and minds, lyrically.
To highlight PKS' release, Nairobi's City Hall Way was affirmatively shut down on Sunday 21st August 2011. That day saw Kenyan entertainment elevate to a level never experienced before. Indeed, an entire street. Closed off. For the launch of Pulpit Kwa Street. Juliani took over the beautifully constructed stage and delivered a 90 minute show to an audience of over 2000 that many in Kenya's media circles deemed "unforgettable".
'Bahasha ya Campo', PKS's first single release, not only reached the top of every radio station's playlist and VJ shows, but additionally sparked wide public debate, due to its intriguingly conscious lyrics. Single number two, 'Exponential Potential', is exactly as its title, a rambunctiously addictive people's anthem, at its exponential peak of potential. The accompanying video, featuring Vision 2030's Mugo Kibati among other young visionaries, presents a Kenyan dream fulfilled. No bling, but the stock exchange, no cars, but developed roads. A story of independence and innovation for a better Kenya, starting from every single one of our hearts.
As for 2012, expect more concerts, more PKS celebrations, up to 25 "Kama Si sisi" university tour dates across Kenya and beyond, more inspiration, more power, a thank you gesture of the highest order, with Juliani giving away his first car - pimped out - luxuriously - for one of his many loyal fans. International collaborations you could never have expected and, another classic single: 'RBG Republik'.