Popular Congolese guitarist Lokassa ya Mbongo dies in US

Lokassa ya Mbongo

Legendary Congolese guitarist Denis Lokassa Kasiya, aka Lokassa ya Mbongo, died Tuesday night in the US after a long illness.

Lokassa, who recently turned 80, was the band leader of the popular Soukous Stars band, formerly based in Paris. Earlier, he had a stint with Tabu Ley Rochereau's Afrisa International and later the All African Stars band. 

He had been battling with diabetes and was recuperating from a mild stroke he suffered a few years ago.

His fellow US-based Congolese musician Mekanisi Modero said he had been informed about Lokassa's death by a nurse who has been taking care of him.

She said he had breathing difficulties before he collapsed and died in Nashua, New Hamsphire.

Also living in the same state is singer Wawali Bonane, also with The Afrisa International Band. He had visited Lokassa and said was devasted by the sad news.

Another Congolese musician Ngouma Lokito, who lives in New York, broke the sad news to his fans through a Facebook post.

Popular compositions

Lokassa, a chequered guitarist and composer, will be remembered for some of his popular compositions such as “Bonne Annee”, “Monica”, “Marie-Josse” and “Assitou”.

He was arguably one of the best rhythm guitarists from Congo, having performed with Tabu Ley Rochereau's Afrisa International band from 1970 to 1978.

   During his stint with Afrisa, he played alongside singers Pepe Ndombe, Sam Mangwana and Michelino Mavatiku Visi.  However, Lokassa spent a greater part of his career based outside DR Congo.