Zaïko Langa Langa are more than a band, they’re a Congolese cultural legend. Charismatic frontman Jossart Nyoka Longo brings the whole gang to the Centre for Fine Arts on Feburary 29 for an epic birthday celebration. Here are some of the things that make them exceptional:
1. When Zaika Langa Langa was founded on 24 December 1969, it became a magnet for a large number of fledgling artists, who would each become famous faces of Congolese Rumba music, such as Papa Wemba, Jossart Nyoka Longo, Pépé Felly Manuaku, Mery Jo, Teddy Sukami, Evoloko, Efonge Gina, Zamuangana Enoch, or Bimi Ombale.
2. The name ‘Zaïko’ derives from ‘Zaïre ya ba Koko’ which means ‘the Zaire of our ancestors’.
3. The orchestra quickly created a distinctive style, ditching wind instruments altogether in favour of percussion and solo guitar. This rule breaking, very rhythmical style, known as ‘cavacha’, became hugely influential and changed the sound of Congolese music forever.
4. The orchestra’s popularity is also linked to the special dances they created, which were taken up by the ‘ambiançeurs’ in the Congolese nightclubs and then throughout the continent.
5. With 50 years under their belt (and yes, numerous changes of personnel along the way) they are now the longest running orchestra in Congolese musical history, and a true cultural icon.