LE GLAS A SONNE by Tabu Ley

This song was part of the Exil Ley album which Tabu Ley recorded while in political exile. He had to flee the Congo for his safety after he criticized then President Mobutu Sese Seko much to the latter’s fury.

This is a moving song in which Tabu Ley recounts the tribulations that his country, the Democratic Republic of Congo has gone through since independence.

He talks about the euphoria they felt when Belgian colonialism ended. Buit instead of seizing the opportunity to build the country, the Congolese people turned against each other. As a result, the wealth of the nation was wasted especially be the selfish leaders who only looked out for themselves.

He expressed shock at the suffering of the Congolese people amid poor schools, a lack of jobs, inadequate health facilties. The oft repeated phrase is Ngonga Ebeti, Tango Ekoki which means the bell is tolling and the time has come. It is an exhortation to the Congolese people to put their differences aside and work to build the country. The phrase is then followed by the ominous toll of a Church bell.

Tabu Ley sings in reverence of the greatest leaders ever from the Congo: Kasavubu, Lumumba, and Tshombe who are politicians, Cardinal Malula, and Simon Kimbangu who are religious leaders, as well Kabaselleh and Franco Luambo, the pre-eminent musicians from the Congo. Most notably he does not mention Mobutu Sese Seko who was the president at the time. The snub was intentional.

Tabu Ley then ends the song exhorting God with the phrase Oh Nzambe oh oh oh…………amid the wails of a funeral.

A moving song indeed.

Africa Music Centre
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