Words are read but music is heard so it is hard to write fluently about a musical experience.
But this story is about more than just music.
Since November 2011, Rashid of Roots International has hosted a live music gig at Choices on Baricho Road dubbed Thursday Nite Live.
A glimpse on Nairobi Now that gives me the ‘in’ into Nairobi’s art scene revealed that the legendary Orchestra Les Mangelepa would be performing on Thursday 16 June.
I battled Nairobi traffic, got to Choices at 7.45pm and snagged a good seat that would enable me to get a good view of the stage and also of the crowd.
The crowd was a mix of young and old itself a testimony to the endearing and enduring nature of the music of Les Mangelepa.
The gig was set to start at 8pm but in typically Kenyan fashion it did not. Not complaining though as I got to overhear a conversation that was as funny as it was informative.
Three members of the ORIGINAL Orchestra Les Mangelepa can boast of forty years of marching to their step.
The three are Kabila wa Kabanze Evany, Nzazi Kalenga Kibawa Vivy and Kaniki Lutulu Macky.
The band members of Les Mangelepa walked into Choices and their humble bearings meant that many did not recognize they were the stars of the night. From my vantage position I observed them, picked out the trio of legends whose dressing revealed they are sapuers.
At a quarter past eight Kenyan cartooning legend Paul “Maddo” Kelemba went up on stage and wore a new hat. That of the Chairman of the Board of Directors for Ketebul Music which is a not for profit organization that seeks to curate the music traditions of East Africa.
Maddo proceeded to give his audience an education on the origin of Les Mangelepa. His mastery of Lingala and the in’s and out’s of Rhumba in Kenya was a marvel to behold.
After the impromptu lesson it was time to invite Les Mangelepa to the stage. Maddo started with the new band members before completing with the three living legends – Kabila wa Kabanze, Nzazi Kalenga and Kaniki Lutulu.
Les Mangelepa then gave a brilliant performance. The first hour went by so first. The dance moves of the three oldies were breathtaking. The trio then took a 10 minute break and performed for another hour getting the crowd on their feet.
Personally I was blown away. It was wonderful listening to hits like ‘Embakasi’, ‘Maindusa’, ‘Nyako konya’ and ‘Safari ya Mangelepa LIVE.
Rhumba bands fragment every so often so for a band to mark its 40th birthday is an AMAZING feat.
Félicitations Orchestra Les Mangelepa!
The legendary band is marking 40 years in the music scene with a tour of Europe.
Hope they will celebrate their four decades in music with a performance in Nairobi West.
Long live Muziki ya Bakulutu.
GOD BLESS KENYA.