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Renowned Congolese guitarist Lokassa ya Mbongo passes away in the US

Renowned Congolese guitarist Denis Lokassa Kasiya, famously known as Lokassa ya Mbongo, passed away on Tuesday night in the US after a long illness. The 80-year-old Lokassa was the band leader of the well-known Soukous Stars band, which was previously based in Paris. Before his time with Soukous Stars, he had a stint with Tabu Ley Rochereau’s Afrisa International and later the All African Stars band. Sadly, he had been suffering from diabetes and was recuperating from a mild stroke he had experienced a few years ago.


According to US-based Congolese musician Mekanisi Modero, who received the news from Lokassa’s nurse, the guitarist had been experiencing breathing difficulties before he collapsed and passed away in Nashua, New Hampshire. Singer Wawali Bonane, who also performs with The Afrisa International Band and resides in the same state as Lokassa, had visited him and was devastated by the news. Ngouma Lokito, another Congolese musician residing in New York, announced Lokassa’s passing through a Facebook post.


Lokassa was a skilled guitarist and composer known for his hit compositions, including “Bonne Annee,” “Monica,” “Marie-Josse,” and “Assitou.” He was widely considered one of the best rhythm guitarists from Congo, having played with Tabu Ley Rochereau’s Afrisa International band from 1970 to 1978 alongside singers Pepe Ndombe, Sam Mangwana, and Michelino Mavatiku Visi. However, Lokassa spent most of his career outside DR Congo.


Kenyan fans of Soukous Stars will fondly remember Lokassa’s time with the band in the early and mid-1990s when he was at the forefront of their concert tours. Nairobi-based Lingala music enthusiast and fashion icon Sammy Wamuri Ya Kembo recalled interacting with Lokassa during Soukous Stars shows in Kenya in the early 1990s, some of which were organized by Congolese promoter Tamukati Ndongala of Tamukati Productions.


To capture the hearts of Lingala music fans in East Africa, Soukous Stars released their debut album, “Nairobi Night,” which featured reworked versions of popular tracks by East African musicians like “Dada Rosa” by the legendary Tabora Jazz and “Vigelegele ndio furaha” by Western Jazz band.


Details of Lokassa’s funeral arrangements will be announced at a later time. Lokassa ya Mbongo’s exceptional musical talent and contribution to the industry will be deeply missed by fans worldwide.



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