Congolese Guitarist Lokassa Ya Mbongo. Source: The Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) - Photo: 2023

Famed Congolese Guitarist Lokassa Ya Mbongo Has Found His Rest

By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network

NEW YORK | 18 December 2023 (IDN) — The legendary musician, whose real name is Denis Kasiya Lokassa, has died at age 77 after battling diabetes and complications from a mild stroke he suffered in 2020.

He was one of DR Congo’s best rhythm guitarists, but spent most of his career in Paris, where he led the Soukous Stars band since 1984.

He moved to the US in 1996, where he lived until his death in March. His body was flown to the Democratic Republic of Congo the following month.

Lokassa’s body lay in a morgue in Kinshasa, the capital city, in accordance with his wish to be buried in his home country. The government reportedly promised to help organize a funeral that would be worthy of the music star’s name, but for months dragged its feet and did nothing.

When the family submitted a budget request of $75,000 to the government, it was not approved and the relatives were left in limbo.

“It is humiliation, if we must call it that,” the artist’s son, Andre Marie Lokassa, said, adding that the delay had caused tension in the family.

Other Congolese musicians who have also waited for months to be buried after their death include composer and saxophonist Kiamuangana Mateta Verckys, who died in October last year and was buried in December and jazz star Lutumba Simaro Masiya, who died in March 2019 and was only laid to rest in May that year.

Within less than a week after the death of Lokassa, the Congolese music fraternity found itself mourning the passing of another legendary singer and composer – Saak “Sinatra” Sakul. Both men were aged 80 and had been sidelined due to long illnesses.

What was once considered a dead-end career for African musicians with their works copied copiously by artists in the West, today there are many millionaires and billionaires in the African music world.

Now one of the fastest-growing industries in the world, African music boasts an ever-increasing number of gifted singers heralding the scene’s arrival. As a consequence, the earning potential of these artists has increased and the richest musicians in Africa now compare favorably with their international peers classed in the upper echelons of the world’s wealthiest singers.

The proliferation of digital music platforms have made it simpler for African artists to connect with a global audience and gain recognition outside of their home countries. This has fueled the expansion.

Among the top African musician millionaires are Fally Ipupa of the Congo ($13.6 million), Burna Boy of Nigeria, net worth $16 million, designated among the 100 most influential people globally by Time Magazine; Wizkid, the second African musician to generate over a million dollars in a single event with his performance at Madison Square Garden, net worth $26 million; and Davido of Nigeria, founder of the music label DMW (Davido Music Worldwide), net worth $27.6 million and owner of 12 luxury cars that include 2 Range Rovers, 2 Bentleys, 2 Audis, 2 Mercedes and a Toyota Land Cruiser.

Women artists are also breaking the glass ceiling, among them: Oumou Sangare, Mali (net worth $12 million); Akothee of Kenya (net worth $10 million); Vanessa Mdee of Tanzania (net worth $8 million) and Angelique Kidjo of Benin(net worth $8 million). [IDN-InDepthNews]

Photo: Congolese Guitarist Lokassa Ya Mbongo. Source: The Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC)

IDN is the flagship agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate.

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