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Kabaselleh children seek to revive Orchestra Lunna Kiddi

Arts and Culture
 Ochieng Kabaselleh

In a bid to redeem the glory of the former leader of Orchestra Lunna Kiddi, the late Ochieng’ Kabaselleh, his children are out to revive the legendary Rhumba band. 

The band was one of the most respected Benga and Rhumba bands from the 1970s to 90s alongside the likes of DO Shirati Jazz Band of Daniel Owino Misiani, Victoria Kings of Dr Collella Mazee, and Apollo Komesha of Gabriel Omollo of the famous ‘Lunch Time’ hit.

With the death of Kabaselleh in 1998, the popularity of the band (Orchestra Lunna Kiddi), waned and died. It was disbanded just like many bands with the demise of their founders.

However, there seems to be hope for the Orchestra Lunna Kiddi band since Kabaselleh’s children are determined to bring it back.

Its revival will be followed by an amalgamation of its offshoot outfits that sprung up after Kabaselleh’s death.

“Our urge is to have one big band just like the defunct Mighty TP OK Jazz Band of Franco Luambo Makiadi, which ruled the continent for decades. We’ll rename ours as Bana Ba Kadorry (Children of Dorcas) Orchestra. We are sure of doing well, an indication of our seriousness to make a formidable comeback,” said Reggy Kabaselleh, one of Kabaselleh’s sons who will be the band leader.

Most of the off-shoot bands were formed by Kabaselleh family members.

The off-shoot bands also dwelt on a similar type of music as their mother band, which was sung in a mixture of both Lingala and Luo dialects.

These bands include Orchestra Kidi Masanga led by Reggy Kabaselleh, and the defunct Orchestra Lunna Kiddi which was briefly led by Joel Okello Babu and musician Dorry Kabarry.

However, the new band will have a new name, that is, Bana Ba Kadorry Orchestra (The Children of Dorcas Orchestra in Lingala dialect), as championed by Reggy Kabaselleh.

Dorcas was the mother of the late Ochieng’ Kabaselleh and Dorry Kabarry and the grandmother to Reggy.

“Success comes with patience. The idea was born the other day and we are out to implement it,” he said.

Some of the popular songs by the senior Kabaselleh were ‘Jaber Nyar Mama Achi Maria’ and ‘Millicento’. The two songs are among the hits that have ruled the Luo Nation in East and Central Africa to date.

In the current world of music, Reggy said success in the pop world is only achievable through the collaborations of different artistes, adding that it is the reason Congolese musicians are at the top in the world of Rhumba.

“Congolese musicians are renowned in Africa and globally for their tradition of collaborations whenever one has a big hit and needs the support of the others. They do it with great passion before they retreat to their outfits after the shows. We are also trying to follow in their footsteps,” he said.

A good example is when Lokassa Ya Mbongo teamed up with singers Ballou Canta and Yondo Sister, guitarists Diblo Dibala, Ngouma Lokito, and Shimita to produce the two albums, ‘Nairobi Night’ in 1991 and ‘Amour Madinina’ in 1992 at Soukous Stars.

Another collabo was when legend Franco Luambo Makiadi of TP OK Jazz Band teamed up with Sam Mangwana of Africa All Stars to produce the album Forever in 1989, shortly before he (Franco) died.

“As we chase the same cause, we are just in the right direction in the footsteps of these Congolese legends for us to promote the spirit of our father (the late Ochieng’ Kabaselleh) decades after his death,” said Reggy.

He said this idea came up at a time when most of them (Bana ba Dorcas) were mature having earlier practised in the company of their father during his hey days in the 1980s to late 1990s.

Reggy, a father of 20 children and the band leader of Orchestra Kidi Masanga is a proud man. His band has 18 members including a few he inherited from his father’s band.

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