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Orchestra Makassy

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The late seventies and early eighties were an extremely creative time for Zairean groups. This period corresponded with the beginnings of Europe’s interest in African music. During this time there was a continuing flow of Tanzanian musicians visiting Kenya to record and perform. The Tanzanian variety of rumba music was extremely popular and widely accessible through radio and records in Kenya. Many stellar groups and recordings emerged from the Kenyan music scene, such as Orchestra Super Mazembe, Orchestra Mitimila (later Super Mitimila) and the Dar es Salaam-based Tanzanian-Zairean soukous band Orchestra Makassy, led by Kitenzogu “Mzee” Makassy. The group included some of the most famous names in ‘Tanzanian music, such as Mose Se Senga aka ‘Fan Fan’, Remmy Ongala and Tshimanga Assossa.
The group’s leader, Mzee Makassy was born in the early I940s, in a remote village in East Zaire. As a teenager he played bass in college groups. In 1967 he moved to Kampala and for years played regularly at the city’s international hotel. He spent a year in Europe, mainly in ltaly.
In 1975 he formed Orchestra Makassy with Ugandan and Zairean musicians in Kampala. Driven into Tanzanian exile by Idi Amin’s regime the Orchestra Makassy established local status through exhaustive performing.

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