Remmy Ongala Bio, Death, OMF Festival

Remmy Ongala was a Tanzanian-Congolese singer and musician. In the 1980s, Ongala gained popularity as a performer and was a part of the soukous scene (“Congolese rumba”). He went to Dar es Salaam in 1978 and joined Orchestra Makassy there. Later, he formed his own group, Orchestra Super Matimila, which took the name of the entrepreneur who owned the band’s equipment.

Remmy Ongala
Dr. Ongala

Remmy Ongala Biography

He was born on February 10, 1947, in Kindu, Democratic Republic of the Congo, near Tanzania’s border. Remmy was introduced to music by his father who was a singer, guitarist. A exponent of the sanza (a traditional thumb piano) and drummer.

Ongala assisted in spreading the soukous musical genre to the Tanzanian musical underground known as Ubongo, which is Swahili for “brain.” The growth of Tanzanian hip-hop as a result played a role in the 1990s, notably in Dar es Salaam.

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Ongala’s charming stage presence led the Orchestra Makassy. Saxophones, drums, and guitars made up the group. Together they created the contentious lyrics and music by Ongala on poverty and AIDS. Radio Tanzania prohibited his song Mambo kwa socks (Affairs of the socks), a call for responsible sex and the use of condoms by young men, but he still played it live. The government pondered removing him due to his songs’ criticism of the nation’s elite and immigration laws, but as Ongala’s popularity grew, they decided against it. Instead, he received citizenship in Tanzania.

Remmy Ongala and Orchestre Super Matimila - I Want To Go Home (live at Real World Studios)
Ongala and Orchestre Super Matimila band live.

Remmy Ongala Death

Ongala passed away on December 13, 2010, at his Dar es Salaam residence. He died at the age of 63.

Ongala Music Festival

The Ongala Music Festival (OMF) honors the music, life, and artistic creations of Tanzania’s well-known singer, Remmy Ongala. The festival showcases East Africa’s musical talent and creative collaborations from both the old and young generations, bridging the gap between them. It seeks to broaden the creative platform in order to foster worthwhile relationships and support the development of a society that values content.

OMF 2022 will provide on-site camping and hotel accommodations under the theme Mziki ni Tiba (Music Heals). The event will include DJ performances, seminars, drumming sessions, and more. Visitors will also get the option to enjoy regional food and handcrafted goods.

This year’s lineup includes members of the Kenyan band SARABI and Mandela, as well as Sholo Mwamba, Siti Muharam, Swahili Ally, Taji Mbaraka, Tofa Jaxx, Man Kifimbo, the Bongo Beat band led by Remmy Ongala’s son Tom Ongala, Muda Tanzania, and Magomamoto.

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