On the 30th November 2013, the DR Congo and the whole African continent lost one of the most influential musical artist of the 20th century: Pascal-Emmanuel Sinamoyi Tabu better known as Tabu Ley Rochereau. Together with the guitarist Dr. Nico Kasanra, Rochereau pioneered the music genre soukous, the ‘African rumba’, and made it popular thoughout the African continent and beyond. He gained great popularity for his engagement in the bands African Fiesta and Orchestre Afrisa International. In the mid 1980’s he discovered the 22-year old talent M’bilia Bel’s, with who he sang many songs. In 1988 Rochereau went into exile and became an open critic of the Mobuto regime. After Mobuto was ousted in 1997, he returned into the DRC, went into politics and held several political positions, including Vice-Governor of Kinshasa.
The government of the D.R.C organized a state funeral for him on the 9th december, which was declared a holiday. Thousands came to pay their tribute to the musical giant. Rochereau became 73 years old.
“Mobuto said: “Does Rochereau realize the magnitude of a song? Because the newspaper will not be bought by the old lady in the street unless she uses it to wrap her donuts. But a song goes everywhere. The housewife even while crushing her cassava and making attiéké (couscous) out of it, she listens to the song. The street does not have to make any effort to understand its meaning.” – Tabu Ley Rochereau, in “Music is the weapon of the Future” by Frank Tenaille