What you need to know:
- Lokassa died at St Joseph’s Hospital in Nashua, US, on March 14 at the age of 80 after a long illness.
- His body was then flown back home to DRC capital Kinshasa in April, where it has since been lying in a mortuary.
Legendary Congolese guitarist Lokassa ya Mbongo, who died six months ago, is yet to be buried, sparking anxiety among his fans across the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as well as in Africa, Europe and the United States of America.
Lokassa died at St Joseph’s Hospital in Nashua, US, on March 14 at the age of 80 after a long illness. His body was then flown back home to DRC capital Kinshasa in April, where it has since been lying in a mortuary.
On arrival, the body was received at the airport by fellow musicians, family, relatives, fans and government officials.
Congolese music union officials Blaise Bula and Adios Alemba led the mourners in receiving the body of their fallen colleague.
In a recent television interview, two of Lokassa’s sons made a passionate appeal to the DRC government to assist in his funeral arrangements.
According to reports from Kinshasa, it had been expected that the Ministry of Culture and the Arts would have been deeply engaged in the funeral arrangements as has been in the case for other Congolese music legends.
Speaking to Nation recently, Kinshasa-based musician Lofombe Gode said it was still unclear whether his family or government officials were making any funeral plans.
“There hasn’t been any official statement from the government or his family concerning his burial as we all await the announcement of a likely date,” he said.
Lokassa's fans have taken to social media with all manner of speculations over the matter.
Many have been sharing his photos and others his popular songs. The seasoned and hugely talented guitarist and composer, had, according to family and friends, been battling diabetes and the impact of a mild stroke he suffered in 2017.
Prior to settling in the US, Lokassa had been based in Paris, France, where he was the band leader of the Soukous Stars band. The group featured Ngouma Lokito, Yondo Sister, Shimita El Diego, Dally Kimoko and Balou Canta. Some of Lokassa’s popular compositions include Marie Jose, Monica, Sophia, and Adiza.
The musician, who spent a great part of career overseas, has some of his offspring living in Europe and others in the DRC.
Speaking separately from Europe recently, his former associates Mekanisi Modero, Wowali Bonane, and Yondo Sister expressed anxiety over the unprecedented burial delay. Notably, all the three were Lokassa’s counterparts in legendary Tabu Ley’s Afrisa International Band.
His case was in sharp contrast to that of fellow musician Saak Sinatra Sakul, who died a few days after Lokassa.
His body was promptly flown from Paris to Kinshasa also in April. However his family chose not to wait for the government’s involvement and thus expedited his burial.
Sakul, who was a member of the legendary Kinshasa-based band, Orchestre Sosoliso Trio Madjesi (Mario, Djeskain and Sinatra), also died in a Paris hospital after a long illness.
A funeral service for Lokassa was held on April 1, at the Conner Healy Funeral Home and Cremation Centre in Nashua, New Hampshire, USA.
The delayed burial of Lokassa echoes that of his counterpart and mercurial saxophonist, composer and band leader Kiamuangana Mateta Verckys. He died in October last year and was buried in December.
It was during the same month when ‘Queen of Mutuashi’ Tshala Muana died and was buried.
In 2019, there was another long delay when long-serving TPOK Jazz vice-president Lutumba Simaro Masiya died in March and was buried in May. Simaro had a long career and collaboration with the grand master Franco Luambo Luanzo Makiadi, who died in a Belgian hospital in 1989.
As for Lokassa’s fans, it seems to be another long unprecedented wait for his burial date.