Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Can Ipupa reignite love for local rhumba?

By Vasco Chaya

Local rhumba musicians say Congolese rhumba star Fally Ipupa, who is set to perform in Harare on May 26, has no capacity to revive “the love of the genre” in Zimbabwe.

Fally Ipupa
Fally Ipupa

Fally Ipupa will share the stage with Oliver Mtukudzi, Juntal and Diamond Musica at Harare International Conference Centre next week on Saturday.

Rhumba musician Wellington “Dr Bitumba” Maruta says Fally is not well known in Zimbabwe.

“The coming of Fally is a very big gamble for whoever is bringing him to Zimbabwe as he is unknown to most of Zimbabwean rumba fans who are versed in fast up tempo as his is rather a slow beat which I think will be accepted by middle-aged fans who crave for slow bits.

“I am not seeing any hype in Fally’s coming and causing resurgence of rhumba from Congo as now the language is a barrier as Zimbabweans prefer music whose lyrics are familiar to them,” said Bitumba.

“Zimbabweans now prefer songs sung in Shona and Swahili which is rather close to them. I don’t see any revival as dancehall has over shadowed almost all music genres in Zimbabwe plus most of these young revellers prefer dancehall. I would rather say let us wait and see.

“If he pulls through then rumba would have a strong come back. If it was Kanda Bongo, man, yes I would give it a thumbs up as his style is still received by most Zimbabweans,” he said.

Upcoming musician Ndombele said the gig was supposed to feature a number of rhumba artistes for it to make lasting impressions in the country.

“Yes, Fally’s visit might reignite the love of rhumba in the country but the fact that the gig is featuring few rhumba artistes is a disturbing development.

“I urge promoters to include a number of local rhumba artistes and this will help the genre to reclaim its lost glory,” Ndombele said.

Juntal’s manager, Luckmore Kambadza, said rhumba has been alive in Zimbabwe since 1990s.

“Fally’s performance in Harare will not revive rhumba as the genre has been alive but it’s only that people no longer listen to it because they don’t understand the language being used in the songs. Juntal is popular because of his creativeness; he sings in his mother language,” said Kambadza.

Rhumba music took the country by storm in the 1990s thanks to Congolese stars such as Kanda Bongo Man, Pepe Kalle, Papa Wemba, General Defao, Extra Musica, Koffi Olomide and Yondo Sister who all flocked to the country for live performances thereby popularising the genre.

Their visit to Zimbabwe also gave birth to the rise of local rhumba groups such as BV Labien, New Stars and Diamond Musica among others.

Eventually the genre died a natural death. It was overtaken by time.

Now, only few entertainment joints such as the Ambassador Hotel in Harare are still promoting the genre through playing rhumba songs and inviting local rhumba groups on regular basis.

Fally is known in the music circles for songs such as Eternellement, Ko Ko Ko Ko and Straight Path among others.

He released his debut album Droit Chemin in 2006 before coming up with Arsenal de Belles Melodies (A2BM) in 2009.

The Kora Award-winning artiste bagged two MTV Africa Music Awards as Best Francophone Artiste and for Best Video Sexy Dance featuring Krys in 2010.Daily News