TP OK Jazz after the Death of Franco

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Franco Luambo's Funeral

TPOK Jazz concert in Kenya

With Simaro , Madilu and Josky at the forefront, the band seemed ready to carry the mantle of TP OK Jazz.

TPOK Jazz splits

The death of Ntesa Dalienst and Djo Mpoyi

Bana OK going strong with albums like Ingratitude

Bana Ok members Ndombe Opetum , Lutumba Simarro and Josky Kiambukuta

The death of Madilu and Simaro's Proces

Odemba OK Jazz All Stars

Odemba OK Jazz All Stars members, Nana Akumu, Malage De Lugendo and Dizzy Mandjeku. Image courtesy of

Following Franco's death, the body was flown back home accompanied by family and band members. Because Franco was so much ingrained into the fabric of society, many Zaireans mourned his death more than they would that of a blood relative. Thousands of mourners massed the airport as the hearse arrived and many more lined the streets of Kinshasa to watch as the hearse which was now covered in the national flag passed through the streets escorted by a parade of Police cars. The government declared 4 days of mourning. In the following days, Voix du Zaire, the national radio service played nothing but an overdose of Franco songs 24 hours a day. Finally on October 17 Franco was lowered to his final resting-place. Following Franco's death, current as well as former TPOK Jazz members teamed up to produce an album in tribute to Franco, titled Hommage A Luambo Makiadi. An album which had been recorded prior to Franco's death and featured two songs( Anjela and Tawaba) by Ndombe Opetum was released. Josky followed this up with his own hit album featuring the hit Chandra. Madilu had now adopted the sobriquet Madilu Multisysteme Le Grand Ninja, Josky was now referred to as le Commerndant de Boarde. Other excellent albums released during that period included Eau Benite by Simaro and the album Somo which featured Maby by Josky and Madilu's Mort Viviant Somida. The band was still going strong and all seemed well. In 1991 they embarked on a tour of Kenya which was well received by crazed Kenyan fans. However at the end of the last concert after having been paid by the promoters, they were conned out of the entire loot by an unknown middleman. They vowed never to visit Kenya again. With Simaro , Madilu and Josky at the forefront, the band seemed ready to carry the mantle of TP OK Jazz. Then the trouble started: Madilu released his own album outside the Ok Jazz system. The album titled Na pokwa Ya Lelo(in the evening of today) featured up tempo versions of some of his earlier songs and was a huge success. The rest of the band members were not amused and Madilu was suspended for six months. He opted to leave the band and pursue a solo career. Months later the band members ran into a disagreement with members of Franco's family in particular his sister Marie Louise. The family was demanding an unreasonable share of the band's revenue. The band members could not comply with their demands and opted to form another band which they named Bana OK. (people of OK). This spelled the end of the great TPOK Jazz after 36 years of huge success. Bana Ok have continued to record and stage concerts all over Africa and Europe with a reasonable amount of success. They have however not reached the heights of success, which they enjoyed during the Franco era. In 1993, Djo Mpoyi who's silken voice wowed fans in songs like Mbongo-money-L'argent and celio died. Three years later in 1996 Ntessa Dalienst died of a brain tumour. Indeed the period between 1992 to 1993 was a dark one for the Ok Jazz family as Aime Kiwakana (1992), Lola Djangi (1992) also passed away as did legendary saxophonist Matalanza. Bana OK has since experienced a further split following the departure of Malage de lugendo and Dizzy madjeku who led others in forming a new band named OK International. A new version of TPOK Jazz under the leadership of Youlou Mabialla has also come into existence. Youlou says that the fact that Franco himself nicknamed him the Prince means that He expected him to carry forward the name of the band. Under the leadership of Lutumba Simmarro, Bana OK have are still going strong. Among the CDs they have released include Tonerre show which was collaboration with Pepe Kalle and Trahison which featured vocals by Koffi Olomide. More recently they have released CDs such as Toucher Jouer and Dernier,Avertissement(last warning) which features a shorter, faster rendition of Josky's 1979 mega-hit Propetaire. If I were to vote for the song of the year 1999, The track Wany by Simmarro in that album would win hands down. The song features excellent vocals by Opetum , Shakembo and Serge Kiambukuta , augmented by outstanding guitar stringing by Simaro and Gerry. Solo guitarist, Gerry Dialungana ably took over Franco's position as lead guitarist. New recruits to the band include returnee Makosso and Shakembo whose silken voice is reminiscent of the Late Djo Mpoyi. While still remaining faithful to the Rhumba Odemba originated by Franco , Bana OK have switched from the traditional intro-song-sebene format to a single speed format , more in tune with the times. Their best album of the late 1990s was labeled Ingratitude. It contained mostly songs by Simaro and delivered by Josky, Ndombe, Shakembo and others. It was a marked departure from the style that was prevalent in the 1980s and even had a "salsa" track. Bana OK musicians have also collaborated with several prominent musicians. The album Trahison was produced in close collaboration with Le General Defao. Earlier on in 1989, Simaro and Pepe Kalle had collaborated on album labeled "Pepe Kalle chante Simaro. Also featured prominently in this album was the golden voice of Carlito Lassa and the searing guitar of Diblo Dibala. The lead song is Diarhee Verbale (Tuba Tuba) is a complaint against the penchant for Kinshasa people towards gossip. In February of 2002, Bana OK was rocked by yet another tragedy when Gerry Kassia Dialungana, the bands solo guitarist who was also an integral Part Of TPOK Jazz in the 70s and 80s, passed away. Gerry had been a founder member of Bana Ok and was nicknamed "Loboko ya Bana OK because he was the band's lead guitarist. Bana Ok members Ndombe Opetum , Lutumba Simarro and Josky Kiambukuta Of the Ok Jazz alumni, Madilu System continued to be the most active through the first decade of the new millenium. During his solo career post OK Jazz, he released no less than 10 albums. At the beginning of August 2007, he travelled to Kinshasa to shoot videos for his new songs. He collapsed on Friday, August the 10th 2007. He was taken to the University Hospital in Kinshasa, where he died the next morning. he had been suffering from a number of ailments. Lutumba Simaro was still going strong even in his seventies and still producing high quality music. In 2004 he released the album called Proces. It was a very strong effort and contained a track sung entirely in Kiswahili. The song is called "Tafuta Upata". A song about how those who work hard and apply themselves usually succeed in life. Ndombe Opetum also had a solo album named "Bula Ntulu" in 2004. Aside from participating ina number of concerts, mostly with Bana Ok, Ndombe's career was rather quiet in the first decade of the new millenium. He passed away due to cardiac arrest in May of 2012. Josky Kiambukuta released a number of solo albums at the beginning of the new millenium including "Chifre 3" which was a cooperation with Madilu, Double Vie which was released in 2009. This was in addition to the albums which he featured prominently under Bana OK. These included Dernier Avertissement, Top Overdose and Oui ca va. Since 2009 however he has been relatively inactive.In 2013 Josky was taken ill and was hospitalized in Paris for a long period. However, recent reports indicate that he is getting better. Singer Nyboma Mwandido, another Paris-based Congolese musician, recently visited Josky and confirmed that the singer’s health was improving. In Brussels, former Ok Jazz guitarist, Dizzy Mandjeku has been keeping flag flying with a new band named Odemba OK Jazz stars. As you may recall, Odemba was the music style that Franco popularized. Nana Akumu, Baniel Bambo and Lokombe Ntal who all played for TP OK Jazz are the other band members. Malage de Lugendo who is also Brussels based also makes frequent appearances with Odemba OK Jazz All Stars .