The Bantous de la Capitale, the first Congolese orchestra created in 1959, has lost its last founding father. The guitarist Passy Mermans, alias “Mermans the first”, died last Wednesday in Brazzaville at the age of 80.
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The death of Mermans, who played guitar for one of the oldest orchestras in Africa, comes after those of his colleagues Henri Gilbert Adampot, and Ricky Simeon Malonga – a hard blow for the rest of the members of the group.
“It’s difficult, you lose at the same time, first Richy followed by the death of Adampot, and a few days later the old Mermans.”
“Mermans was a good guy, a sound artist and in life, he was a man who dealt with everyone, and he loved his job, ” a member of Bantous de la Capitale, Kosmos Moutouari, said.
The demise of the fathers of Congolese rumba reopens the debate on the preservation of the musical heritage of the orchestra and the redistribution of their copyright.
“These founding fathers did not have the time to solve the problem of the earnings of their music generated by international distribution platforms, whereas today we have local platforms that secure the sale of these songs,” the director of Wilkai Music told Africanews.
According to Africanews Journalist Cédric Lyonnel Sehossolo, the orchestra has been preparing for who will succeed them for several years.
But the elders had impressed on the younger members of the band that they must preserve Congolese rumba.