Memories of Congolese music: the death of Lord Tabu Ley Rochereau

Memories of Congolese music: the death of Lord Tabu Ley Rochereau
Memories of Congolese music: the death of Lord Tabu Ley Rochereau

In July 2008, Tabu Ley Rochereau, shortly after representing his country at the world music festival held in Varadero, Cuba, which was his last production, suffered a stroke and was admitted to a Brussels clinic for treatment during a certain period. Subsequently, a rumor announcing his death circulated, causing great emotion on the continent and within the Congolese diaspora. False news which will be denied by those close to him, supported by images showing Lord Ley on his hospital bed and leaked on the internet.

Later, on November 30, 2013, after a laudatory artistic career on the Congolese music scene, Tabu Ley died at the age of 76. A baobab had just fallen. Lord Ley, sacred monster of Congolese music, outstanding singer-songwriter, creator of melodies full of metaphors, left the land of men to join the kingdom of immortals (Adou Elenga, Wendo, Tino Baroza, Grand Kallé, Essous Jean Serge, Nino Malapet) and many others… after a busy musical career.

Following this death, a national funeral commensurate with his merit was organized by the government in Kinshasa. Monday will be declared a public holiday in memory of this monument of Congolese music. Then, a long formal ceremony was also organized at the Palace of Parliament followed by a mass celebrated within it, the facades of which were adorned with giant portraits of the illustrious deceased, a mass during which the officiant, Mgr. Joachin Mbadu, bishop emeritus of Boma, saluted the artistic career of the talented Tabu Ley Rochereau, great name in Congolese rumba. Shortly before the religious service, the Republic paid a deserved tribute to Tabu Ley through the laying of a wreath of flowers in front of his coffin covered with the national flag, successively by the President of the Republic, Joseph Kabila; the president of the National Assembly, Aubin Minaku, and that of the Senate, Kengo Wua Dondo; and the Prime Minister, Augustin Matata Ponyo.

Speaking on behalf of all musicians in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Koffi Olomide in his speech asked the Congolese authorities to decree November 30 of each year ”Congolese Rumba Festival Day” in memory of Tabu Ley and other Congolese musical artists who have left this world. Subsequently, Tabu Ley Rochereau was buried at the Necropolis between earth and sky of Nsélé, a cemetery located on the outskirts of Kinshasa.

To immortalize Lord Tabu Ley Rochereau, Avenue Tombalbaye in Kinshasa has since become Avenue Tabu-Ley.

It should be noted that in 46 years of musical career, Lord Tabu Ley Rochereau has composed more than 3,000 songs and sold several thousand records.

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