After nearly four decades of playing music and touring the world, veteran Congolese musician Kasongo wa Kanema has finally decided to call it a day.
The musician, who is among the founding members and former band leader of Orchestre Super Mazembe, has dropped out of live performances and studio recordings following advice from his doctors.
Kasongo 70, who owns Watoto Studios situated in Yaya Centre, in the year 2000 has been battling high blood pressure, a condition that culminated in a stroke and saw him in and out of hospital for the better part of last year.
"During that time I also had a successful operation following appendicitis and was later advised to stay away from heavy duties so I could recover fully," he says, adding that this does not mean he has quit music completely.
"Music has been my life. Everyday I pray and hope that everything will return to normal to enable me to do what I love most," he says.
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Kasongo revealed that a fellow Kenya-based Congolese he identified only as Maranata has been running his studio ever since.
Prior to his ill health, the musician was in the process of completing his new 10-track album that features various artistes and is done in pure rumba style and sung in Kiswahili, Lingala and French.
The self-produced album, which he planned to sell over the Internet, was yet to be given a title.
Despite being out of the game, Kasongo says he has been busy passing the baton to his band – which comprises his two sons Longwa Ngoi (new band leader) and Maurice as well as six other young musicians.
According to Longwa, the band has also changed its name from Super Mazembe to Rocky and Longwa for personal reasons.
"We are a new generation with a new fan base and that is the reason we decided to get our own identity as opposed to riding on the name of our father's band," he said.