Veteran singer Sam Mangwana, who is one ?of Africa’s top rhumba musicians, is set to release a documentary on his musical career.
As fans of legendary Congolese crooner Tabu Ley prepare to mark the fourth anniversary of his death in a Belgian hospital later this month, Mangwana, who was born in Kinshasa to Angolan immigrants, ?will be launching the documentary. Both men were not just contemporaries, but collaborated on some beautiful songs that are still relished all over the continent.
Indeed, he has been for all intents and purposes a Congolese musician, until the twilight of his career several years ago, when he retraced his family roots back to Luanda. And evidence of this is a few songs recorded with Angolan musicians.
Speaking to the Saturday Nation earlier this week from Luanda,?72-year-old Mangwana said the documentary would ?be a culmination of interviews mainly with his peers, fans? and others that have in one way or the other been related to his musical career.
“It has been realised through the efforts of an Angolan film producer who wanted to have my musical career ?documented,” he said.
To most Lingala music fans, ?Mangwana, who is also popularly referred as ?“La Pigeon Voyageur”for his nomadic tendencies, was at different times a member of both TP OK Jazz led by Franco Luambo Makiadi and Afrisa International led by Tabu Ley, two of the greatest musical groups in?DR Congo.
In the documentary Mangwana traces his story back to the time he made his debut as singer alongside Tabu Ley in the Feista National Band in 1963.
“I will always remember Tabu Ley for having given me that opportunity to make a breakthrough in singing and?performing alongside him, ?Dr Nico Kasanda and Roger Izeidi,” said Mangwana.
The mercurial singer would in 1967 briefly join the Vox Africa Band that was led by Jeannot Bombenga.
The band leader is among those featuring in the Mangwana documentary.
In a recent separate interview with the Saturday Nation, Bombenga, who is remembered for the “Mado” hit with the Vox Africa band recalled how he was happy to ?perform? alongside Mangwana.
“He was an enterprising ?singer ?who added punch to our vocals line-up,” he said.
Bombenga, who is based in Kinshasa, is amongst the few surviving legends of?the 1960s musical era.
“I feel honoured for having been a part of Festival Des Maquisards after the Vox Africa? band,” he added.
Mangwana would also ?team up with talented singer Ntesa Dalienst and guitarists Dizzy Madjeku and Mavatiku Visi (Michelino) to form a band called Festival Des Maquisards.
However, Mangwana’s real breakthrough came in 1973 when he joined Franco’s massive TP OK Jazz.
He was involved in some of Ok Jazz’ s greatest hits, including Simaro’s Mabele and Ebale.
Mangwana also released Luka Mobali Moko with TP OK Jazz.
To honour his time with Franco, Mangwana has also incorporated in the documentary an interview with his widow Mama Pauline Mboyo and some of his siblings.“For fans of TP OK Jazz this will be opportunity to get words of tribute from Mama Pauline ?Franco’s widow,” Mangwana ?says.
In Kenya, fans of ?Mangwana will recall the big collabo he did with Franco in 1982, Co-operation (popularly known as “Odongo”).
As Mangwana recalls it was the wish of Franco to sing a song in praise of ?his Kenyan friend Harrison Odongo Aywa (deceased) who was a senior immigration officer and later ?Khwisero MP in Kakamega County.
In 1989, Mangwana is reputed to have done the last memorable duet Forever, which had lyrics blended in Swahili and Lingala.
The Angola-based singer is enthusiastic about returning to perform in Kenya. He has visited several times in the past and even recorded the Swahili song Furaha ya Bibi. He was backed up by some members of the Orch Virunga.
Mangwana’s versatility is evident in his compositions and his ability to sing in various languages. Besides Lingala, which is almost like his mother tongue, he also sings in Kiswahili and Portuguese, the official language of his homeland, Angola.
Mangwana’s illustrious musical career is also remembered in the late 1970s when he was based in Cote d’Ivoire alongside stars Dizzy Madjeku, Lokassa Ya Mbongo, Theo Blaise Kounkou and Ringo Moya where they formed the All African Stars Band.
With All African Stars, Mangwana released popular songs such as Suzanna Coulibaly and Maria Tebbo. He also released? Fati Mata, a must-play track which enjoys a lot of radio and club play.
He is now putting? the final touches to the documentary to be launched in DR Congo and later East Africa.