Remembering legendary Congolese singer Pepe Ndombe Opetum

Pepe Ndombe Opetum

Legendary Congolese singer Pepe Ndombe Opetum.

Photo credit: Pool

For fans and counterparts of legendary TP OK Jazz singer Pepe Ndombe Opetum, Monday will be a great day as they mark the ninth anniversary since his death. Ndombe, who was popularly known as Pepe, gained fame throughout East, Central, West and southern Africa as a member of the TPOK Jazz that was led by Luambo Makiadi, (popularly known as Franco).

This year’s event is expected to be marked online with no major live concerts due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Many of Ndombe’s fans will recall his role as one of the top singers in the legendary TP OK Jazz band where he joined in 1975 from the rival Afrisa International band that was led by Tabu Ley Rochereau.

Incidentally both Ndombe and Tabu Ley are from Bandundu Province in DRC Congo.

 It was while with Afrisa international that he composed the ever popular Cherie Samba song.

Ndombe sang on many TP OK hits, and his contribution is recognisable for his deep vocals that balanced out the sharp voices of the lead vocalists, including Josky Kiambukuta. Ntesa Dalienst, Djo Mpoyi, Lola Checain, Wuta Mayi and Madilu System.

Notably it was in March this year when the Congolese music fraternity was thrown into mourning following the passing of Kiambukuta in Kinshasa.

Prior to his death in February, there was a court case over Josky’s music copyright violation alongside that of his counterpart Djo Mpoyi in a case which is still ongoing in a Kenyan court.

The great songs for which Ndombe will be remembered for many years, include Voyage ya Bandundu, Mawe, Mabe yo Mabe (1977) and Coupe du Monde (1979). Others are Youyou (1980), the superb Angela (1989) and Tawaba (1989).

His son, Baby Ndombe, has already made a name for himself as one of the top Congolese musicians from the new generation. He has done gigs with several groups including Wenge Musica Maison Merre before going solo. Lutumba Simaro Massiya, the long serving Vice President of TP OK Jazz, incorporated Ndombe Opetum in the splinter Bana OK as one of the top singers.

In Kenya starting today to Monday, veteran radio and TV broadcaster Fred Obachi Mochoka will be among   celebrating Ndombe through the Roga Roga shows on both Radio and Citizen TV. Mr Machoka was among those who attended Ndombe’s funeral in Kinshasa in 2012. Other FM stations like Milele FM, Egesa FM, KBC Radio, Mulembe FM are also expected to dedicate shows to Ndombe’s music.

Kanda Junior

Singer and dancer Kanda Junior during a past live performance in Nairobi. 

Photo credit: Courtesy

Meanwhile, popular dancer and singer Kanda Junior is among artistes doing well in online shows. Kanda had earlier taken a break due to the restrictions over the Covid-19 pandemic. He previously performed on Fridays at the Muthiga Inn Country Club past Kinoo on the Nakuru-Nairobi highway.

 Elsewhere, the rhumba music fraternity is mourning the death of former Orch Quartier Latin band solo guitarist Lebou Kabuya who died last Sunday in Toronto, Canada.

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