In Belgium the “mother of all elections” is coming up, meaning: hollow phrases, waste of paper and lots of casually dressed up politicians on the daily food markets begging you to vote for them. Yes, I miss something pleasant in the campaigns.
In the Congo, politics and music have been going hand in hand until today. In the fifties and sixties, songs for Congolese independence and Pan-African causes were spreading over the country and sometimes beyond, most notably just before and after Congolese independence.
The propaganda side in the repertoire of the father of modern Congolese music, Joseph Kabasele, is rather unknown. Unlike Franco, Kalle wasn’t used to sing propaganda songs. He did sing songs for Modibo Keita, the former president of Mali, and for his friend Patrice Emery Lumumba, but those songs served more collective purposes.
Since Mbokamosika’s article ‘Le Grand Kalle avait quand même chanté Mobutu !’ it is known that Joseph Kabasele got involved with propaganda, for Mobutu. Around 1966 he released two songs for this president’s regime: ‘Indépendance Economique’ and ‘Congo Centrafrique’, two themes that were part of his nationalization discourse. Included is the cover of the 45rpm record that was released on Kabasele’s own Surboum African Jazz label – the two songs are available for streaming on the Mbokamosika link. Joseph Kabasele himself and Alex Mayukuta (Alexis), one of the singers of l’African Jazz in their final period (1964 – 1969), were in charge of the vocals.
The vocal duo Kalle-Alexis also released another song that can be seen as a propaganda song. The song is called ‘President Yakubu Gowon’ and has been made in 1966. For info, in July 1966, Yakubu Gowon took power after a military coup d’état in Nigeria, making him the president of Nigeria and head of the Nigerian military army until 1975. I guess Kalle made (or better was ordered to make) this song for the self-proclaimed new president in 1966. The flip side offers another surprise, as there is a Kalle & l’African Jazz version of the ‘hymne national de la republique democratique du Congo’.
To this day, I haven’t found any more evidence of propaganda songs from Kalle, but feel free to comment if you know more. There is always more…