Thirty years after the death of Luambo Luanzo Makiadi “Franco”, the most famous band leader in the history of Congolese popular dance music, the man who was his deputy in T.P O.K. Jazz and his legitimate musical heir has passed on.
The death of Lutumba “Simaro” Massiya last weekend at the age of 81 brings to an end the last pillar of the great Congolese band T.P. O.K Jazz (tout puissant “the all powerful”).
He joined the band in 1963 from Orchestre Micra and grew in stature to become Chef de Orchestre (conductor) in one of Africa’s greatest ever music ensembles.
He was a trusted lieutenant of Franco’s for decades and wrote some of the most successful songs by T.P O.K Jazz. He was an excellent guitarist and composer who earned the nickname Le Grande Poet because of the soulful and spiritual nature of his songs. Some of his unforgettable classics include “Testament Ya Bowule” “Mamba” “Mandola” and “Couerr Artificiel”.
Despite his high standing as a musical genius, Simaro was a reticent figure who was quite happy to exercise his influence away from the spotlight enjoyed by Franco and singers like Madilu System and Sam Mangwana.
Mangwana sang on some of Simaro’s most celebrated works in the 1970s like “Ebale ya Zaire” (River Zaire) the story of a loved one carried away on a riverboat and “Mabele” which discusses the nature of life and death.
The partnership of Simaro and Mangwana also flourished in the 1980s with the success of “Faute ya Commercant” about a man who gives identical gifts to his wife and mistress.
“Simaro was not a vocalist, he wrote and arranged the songs, and played the guitar,” says Simeon Mfumu, presenter of the radio show Bridge over Congo on KBC. “The main rival for Tabu Ley in T.P O.K Jazz was Simaro, it was not Franco,” says Mfumu. He explains that it is only Simaro who could write songs of the calibre that would match those composed by Tabu Ley for his Afrisa International.
T.P O.K Jazz distinguished itself for impressive organisation under the iron first of Franco and an incredible live sound anchored on a multiplicity of vocals accompanied by an array of drums, guitars, brass section and percussions. It was in the music arrangement of the O.K Jazz classics that Simaro’s greatest legacy remains.
The recording session had a vocal frontline of four to five singers, supported by a chorus of harmonies, a string section with two solo guitars, a bassist and four rhythm guitarists.
The horn section consisted of trumpets, saxophones and clarinets. The percussions introduced and punctuated the sebene (climax). T.P O.K Jazz consisted of up to 50 musicians split between a touring outfit that performed across the world and a home based band that was led by Simaro.
Simaro was the bedrock of T.P. O.K Jazz in Kinshasa when Franco toured the band with the rest of the musicians.
“I don’t understand why he never ventured out to start his own band,” says Tabu Osusa, who lived in Kinshasa at the height of the fame of T.P.O.K Jazz.
He agrees with the view that Simaro was a songwriter in the league of Tabu Ley and other great composers of Congolese rumba. “Virtually every song he wrote was a hit,” says Osusa. “His lyrics in Lingala were incredibly deep that if you compiled them into a book it would be a bestseller.”
Unlike musicians who defected from Franco’s band to join rival groups or to launch their solo career, Simaro remained loyal to the Grand Master even though he too did solo recordings outside the group.
His signature song “Maya” was recorded in 1985 while Franco was on tour in Europe and even though the latter considered it a betrayal, Simaro was so crucial to the success of the band that any cracks in their relationship was papered over.
The infighting that characterised the years after Franco’s death and disagreements with his family led to the formation of Bana OK (the children of O.K Jazz) led by Simaro though the group did not scale the heady heights of success that they had with Franco.
Some of their notable recordings included “Tonerre Show” a collaboration with Pepe Kalle and “Trahison” which featured the vocals of Koffi Olomide.
The passing of Simaro, the distinguished poet of Congolese music marks the end of an era of the giant composers of rumba whose influence remains in the timeless works they wrote and performed.
World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021
World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.
“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.
He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.
The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.
People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.
For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.
Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.
“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.
Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans
The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.
“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”
According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.
Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans
The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.
Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.
Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.
Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets
NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options.
This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.
The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.
The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.
The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).
The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.
The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour; Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).
The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.
Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”
He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.