C’est précisément le 15 août 1959 que se créent les Bantous de la Capitale qui ne tarderont pas à devenir l’emblème de cette époque cruciale de l’histoire du pays et les pionniers de la rumba congolaise. Après maintes séparations et re-formations, le groupe compte encore aujourd’hui dans ses rangs quatre des membres originaux.
Le quartet de doyens que constituent Nino Malapet, Essous Jean Serge, Nkouka Célestin et Edo Nganga est désormais renforcé par la présence de jeunes et moins jeunes artistes.
Plus qu’un groupe, les Bantous de la Capitale représentent également une véritable institution et une authentique tranche du patrimoine historique de la musique africaine en général et congolaise en particulier.» (Les Bantous de la Capitale’s MySpace Page)
Les Bantous de la Capitale – Live in Njimegen (Holland), 2007
More (beautiful!) pics and concert review at Vibes d’Afrique
«On the 15 August 1959, les Bantous de la capitale played their first concert in Brazzaville, one year exactly before independence was granted to the Republic of Congo. At that time, quite a lot of local music fans were surprised to discover that the famous musicians who had founded this ensemble actually ranked among their fellow countrymen.
At that time, Jean-Serge Essous, Dieudonné «Nino» Malapet, Saturnin Pandy, Edouard «Edo» Ganga, Célestin «Célio» Kouka and Daniel Loubelo «De la Lune» were the forerunners of a musical movement which was to turn the culture of Central Africa upside down.
On the other bank of the Congo river, in Léopoldville (present day Kinshasa, capital of former Zaïre, and of present day Democratic Republic of the Congo), they lit the spark which was to give birth to the very first urban orchestras, which in turn unleashed a craze for Congolese rumba which was to spread to the four corners of Africa and beyond. Suave voices, elegant guitars, sensual melodies and a discreet beat – this was the style which became a musical expression of the Pan African ideal borne of the struggle against colonialism.
In fact, the Bantous played an important role in the breakthrough of two formations which were to dominate the Kinshasa music scene, African Jazz and OK Jazz. After having followed the launch of the former, they created the latter – Essous and De la Lune became its band leaders.
Later, a compilation called Pont sur le Congo, featuring hits by OK Jazz and the Bantous side by side, was a clear record of this filiation creating a sonic chain linking «the two closest capitals in the world». Kinshasa has often been the focus of musical interest, often at the expense of Brazzaville and this compilation aimed to put the record straight. It also emphasised the unique and irreplaceable role of the Bantous de la capitale in pushing rumba into the limelight.
This is a long story which started one summer, 48 years ago […]» (Bureau Export, Read more)
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