viva komela skol bana molokai komela skol
A Short History of Congolese Rumba and Dance
All over Africa, dance and dancing play a crucial role in both folklore and modern music. In folklore and traditional tribal music, dance is an integral part of ceremonial events as well as a form of individualism or self-expression. The role of dance in both creating and enlivening social events cannot be overly stressed. Equally, from the beginnings of modern Congolese popular music during the late 1940's, the social role of modern dance has occupied a position almost on a par with its folklore counterpart.
During the early days of the sound that came to be known as Congo music, or later rumba, then soukous, most of the popular, home-produced Congolese dance orchestras such as African Jazz, OK Jazz, Beguin Band or Rock A Mambo began by playing a repertoire of imported latin rhythms. One reason for this was the extensive distribution of latin imports on 78 rpm discs, particularly HMV's GV series. As far back as the mid-1950s, 'Cuban' rumba had already established itself as a highly saleable commodity aimed at a rapidly developing new, urbanised, African market. In fact, imported music was so successful that, in both Central and West Africa, big European record companies such as Decca, HMVand Pathé Marconi quickly became established and made large financial killings by re-releasing material licensed from Cuba and the USA at little cost. Latin music was also particularly favoured in the Belgian Congo because of its close rhythmic and percussive similarities to some of the folklore musics among the Congo's many different tribal groups. During this period, the Congolese also happily adopted imported social dances such as the Cha Cha Cha, the Mambo, the Merenge and the Bolero, all of which proved very popular in the bars and clubs of the capital, Leopoldville (later renamed Kinshasa), and other large cities across the country.
Within a few years, Congolese music developed into a hybrid of rumba rhythms and sounds. This fusion largely came about as an indirect result of the country's increasing industrialisation, with more and more of the rural population travelling to the large cities to seek paid employment. Also the widespread migration of musicians from all regions of the country to Leopoldville lead to the mixing of musicians from different ethnic groups within modern orchestras, with each musician bringing the folklore influences of their particular region or tribe. Such factors contributed heavily to the rapid development and strengthening of an overall modern and highly individualistic recorded Congolese rumba. The music was so strong that, during the late 1950s, Congolese music became established as the first Pan-African dance sound. The Congolese also added to this sound something which they called 'animations'. Animations are verbal instructions which, at their most basic, would involve a musician addressing dancers - ie giving them dance movements to follow - or telling a story or event. Animations might also be phrases or words sung in a particular tribal dialect which, in the early days of Congolese music, was a way for a musician to reaffirm his identity on vinyl via a vocal connection to a particular tribe or village. The main musical role of animation from the outset, however, was simply to add further tension to an already busy sound. The first Congolese musician credited with introducing animations to his music on record was the guitarist Jhimmy Elenga way back in the early 1950s.
As well as being one of the most easily accessible forms of popular dance music, the ongoing political troubles throughout Congo/Zaire during the 1960s and 1970s lead to a mass migration of Congolese, including a great many musicians, out of Zaire and into the surrounding countries. This helped the music become established outside Congo as a live rather than, as it had been previously, a recorded sound and eventually it became the dominant sound in neighbouring countries like Kenya and Tanzania. So much so, in fact, that by the early 1970s, the beat of the Congolese rumba would threaten to destroy these countries' indigenous folklore musics.
wemba & djanana

By the late 1960s and early 1970s, many of the Congo's top orchestras had become established and were each associated with their own dances, such as Dr Nico's 'Kiri Kiri', Orchestra Veve's 'Le Boucher', Tabu Ley Rochereau's 'Soum Joum' and OK Jazz's 'Rumba Odemba'. Other dances also celebrated events such as the 'Apollo', a dance developed in the late 1960s to commemorate the first landings on the moon. Although the Congolese rumba sound already included significant folklore influence, traditional musics were given a booster during President Mobutu Sese Seko's campaign of cultural Authenticity. This lead to even more traditional and regional influences being thrown into each orchestra's musical melting pot.

As mentioned earlier, back in the 1950s animation assumed a fundamental role within Congo music, making the rumba sound personalised and identifiable. By the late 1960s, its themes had expanded and many animations reflected the growing interest in newer imported music, particularly US R&B and Soul. However, this ended with the advent of Authenticity and President Mobutu, self-proclaimed saviour of Zaire. Henceforth a different stance was adopted by such bands as Zaïko Langa Langa, Stukas, Shama Shama and others. Increasingly, the animateur took on the role of spokesman, delivering dances and entertaining, as well as speaking for the State by teaching the masses the principles of Authenticity and assorted Mobutuist wisdoms. Many of the most popular orchestras, such as OK Jazz and Afrisa, toured Zaire during Authenticity using songs and animations to instruct the rural population in Authenticity's rules. As a part of Authenticity, Mobutu also integrated elements of music and dance, traditional and modern, into a new musical form known as 'l'animation politique': songs that would promote the national Zairian spirit and praise the work of President Mobutu on a day-to-day basis. L'animation politique was introduced throughout Zaire. In Kinshasa, each morning before work began, many employees would partake in animations and dance sessions. These were supposed to set the 'citoyen' (citizen) in a socially correct frame of mind (similar in concept to the morning exercises undertaken by Japanese factory workers) and to ensure that an employee had given sufficient respect to Mobutu before beginning a day's work. During the 1970s and 1980s, groups of political animateurs were a powerful tool, used by the Mobutuists as a street-level means to guarantee that the average 'Joe Sape' was loyal to both President and state. Street animateurs were often in involved in bribery and corruption, and most made a large part of their wage by passing back information on disloyal citoyens to their paymasters.
Telling the Truth
bipoli Dance and animations have also be used subversively, to make covert political gestures and statements. One of the last dance crazes to sweep Zairian music prior to the overthrow of Mobutu in the late 1990s was the 'Kbinda N'Koy', the real meaning of which was a covert prod at the then struggling Mobutuist dictatorship.The dance is said to refer discreetly to the hated and feared President's impending death through prostate cancer. Another more recent 1998 hit dance was the 'N'dombolo'. Although originating in Kinshasa, this has taken on a new meaning amongst the fragmented Congolese communities in Europe. In this interpretation, the dance has been adapted to refer to the thousands of Congolese asylum seekers granted 'leave to remain' status in their former countries of asylum - so much so that, when danced, the dancer should move their arms as if stamping passports.

When a new dance is created, it usually lasts for one to two years and can span perhaps ten to twenty 7" singles or five to ten LP record releases, both by the orchestra who created it and by their contemporaries, jumping on the bandwagon of a successful dance. To confuse matters more, orchestras tend to have more than one dance on the go at any one time.

PapaWemba - Viva La Musica and Dance
Papa Wemba first encountered the phrase 'Viva La Musica' in 1974 when he attended a concert featuring New York-based latinos, Fania All Stars, in Kinshasa. Fania were appearing as a part of the 'Rumble in the Jungle' fight festivities. Accompanied by his friend, Pesho Wa Pesho, Wemba was much impressed by the band's energy and the live spectacle of their performance. "Ray Baretto continually shouted the phrase '¡Que viva la música!' to the audience," Wemba remembers, "and I remarked to Pesho that the phrase 'Viva La Musica' sounded an excellent name for a band. I decided then that someday I would use that phrase." Wemba also attempted to inject that same feeling into his current project, Yoka Lokole, who began calling themselves the 'Fania All Stars of Zaire'.

Of course, Wemba understood the importance of dance and good catchy animation and, even before the formation of Viva La Musica while still performing with Yoka Lokole, Wemba made famous the cry 'Viva La Musica' during the sebene (dance break) sections of the band's hits. Therefore, when Wemba formed Viva La Musica and the band undertook its first live work in February 1977, his Kinois fans were already familiar with the new orchestra's name.

Now in their twenty-third year, Viva La Musica have devised many new dances and animations. Also, as one might expect, many of Viva's dances - such as the 'Nyekesse Miguel', the 'CooCoo Dindon', the 'Griff Dindon', the 'Manzoto', the 'Firenze' and the 'Mingi Mingi' - are based around Papa Wemba's and Viva's shared passion for designer clothes. Initially, Viva's dances helped Wemba develop the Sapeur movement he was then attempting to establish (see history of Wemba) and, although Wemba has often gone to extraordinary lengths denying his existence as king of 'La SAPE', Wemba and Viva have still found it hard to abandon the dance phenomenon they originally created.
viva la musica Not all Viva dances are about clothes, however. The 1987 dance 'Comme À L'École' (meaning here 'like a school') celebrates Viva's twenty-year history as a training ground for new, young talent. Another dance, 1991's 'Bouloukutu', celebrated drinking, smoking and generally having a good time. The 1996 smash dance, 'Chege', was inspired by the small street children of Kinshasa known locally as 'chege'.

A full list of the band's dances in loose chronological order is given below.

The Dances Of Viva La Musica
1977 Moku Nyon Nyon - Odimba & Moku Nyon Nyon - Sentiment Elela

1978 - Nyekesse Miguel & Ba La Joie (Awa Kaka)

1979 - CooCoo Dindon

1980 - Griffe Dindon

1981 - Eza Eza

1982 - Mansota

1983 - Rumba Rock - Frenchen

1984 - La Musselman & La Firenze

1986 - Se-Ya

1987 - Kwassa Kwassa

1989 - Comme A L'Ecole

1991 - Bouloukoutu

1993 - Mingi Mingi

1994 - Tuna Sortie
1996 - Chege
1999 - Nsu Nsengele