Remmy Ongala & Orchestre Super Matimila

Known as the 'Doctor', Remmy Ongala originally came from Kindu in what is now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo.

He performed in bands from the age of sixteen, learning his craft from his father, who was a well-respected, traditional musician. In 1978 Remmy travelled to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania where he joined Orchestra Super Makassy and later formed his own band, Super Matimila, named after the local businessman who bought and owned their instruments.

His presence was almost majestic and his distinct voice, rich and soulful, soared above the lilting rhythms of the Super Matimila. The rolling melodic drive of soukous (derived from Congolese rumba) is undeniable, yet there is also the influence of traditional Tanzanian rhythms and hints of Latin and Soul.

"I am successful in Tanzania because I write songs about serious topics... my music is known as 'ubongo beat', because in Swahili 'ubongo' means brain and my music is heavy thinking music." Remmy Ongala

In Tanzania, Remmy’s popularity was unrivalled; his reputation preceded him even to the remotest parts of the bush. His audience saw his lyrics as allegories, often attacking the country’s ruling elite. He never assumed the mantle of spokesman for the masses but did both articulate the concerns of ordinary Tanzanians and initiate debate, with, for example, his song about AIDS, ‘Mambo Kwa Soksi’.

Remmy Ongala passed away at his home in Dar es Salaam on Monday 13th December 2010.

"Working with Remmy was one of the real pleasures. There was a delightful, effortless musicality about everything he did, and once he and his band were fired up, they could take you away into their own unique, mesmerising world. I loved his voice, and I loved the man. We shall miss him." Peter Gabriel

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