Top guitarist Lokassa is hospitalised

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By AMOS NGAIRA
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Congolese guitarist Lokassa ya M’bongo is hospitalised in the US. Lokassa, whose guitar wizardry accompanied many Lingala songs of the 1990s, has been admitted at a hospital in Nashua, New Hampshire for the last one month. He made a name for himself as a member of Soukous Stars and is arguably one of DRC’s best rhythm guitarists, specialising in the up-tempo soukous style.

He is known to hordes of his fans ‘Lokassa ya Dollar’ (mbongo is the Lingala word for money).

Speaking to the Saturday Nation, his fellow Congolese guitarist, Ngouma Lokito, who lives in New York, confirmed that Lokassa had been off stage for some time due to illness.“When I spoke to him last weekend, he said he was feeling much better,” Ngouma said.

Late last year, the soft-spoken Lokassa, known for his mega hits such as Monica and Marie José, toured Colombia, a country known of its love for Congolese rumba music.

In the US, Lokassa has, however, not been active, only occasionally performing with some of his fellow veteran Congolese stars.

Back home in DRC, Lokassa is reputed for his stints with Tabu Ley’s Afrisa International from 1969 to 1978. It was during this time that he played alongside other renowned guitarists like Michelino and Dino Vangu.

In the mid 1970s, it was the Cote d’Ivoire-based compatriot Vata Mombasa of Orch Lipua Lipua who excelled as the top rhythm guitarist.

Lokassa’s real breakthrough came in 1989 when he joined the other stars in Paris to form Soukous Stars. The band’s debut album Megamix Vol 1 featured the hit song, Nairobi Nights-Lagos Nights. Those who took part in recording the album include singers Shimita El Diego, Zitany Neil, Ballou Canta and Dally Kimoko.

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