Remmy Ongala

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Ramadhani "Remmy" Mtoro Ongala (1947 – 13 December 2010) was a Tanzanian guitarist and singer. Ongala was born in Kindu near the Tanzanian border, in what was Belgian Congo at the time, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo.[1]

A rising musician since the late 1980s, Remmy Ongala was part of the soukous scene (a Congolese kind of Rumba), which in conjunction with his Orchestre Super Matimila (named after the businessman who owned the band's instruments)[2] he helped to transmute to the Tanzanian music often called Ubongo, the Swahili word for brain, in Tanzania, which in turn led to Tanzanian hip-hop particularly in the city of Dar es Salaam during the 1990s. Ubongo is usually perceived by artists and listeners alike as "conscious" music, one that actively contributes to Tanzanian soundscape with socio-political commentary. Believing in the abolishment of racism and social injustice, Ongala infuses his lyrics with these messages.[3] His inspiring message has led him to be nicknamed "Dr Remmy". Following the end of British colonial rule in 1961, Julius Nyerere introduced the value of Ujamaa, or familyhood, which emphasized equality and justice. Such became a recurring theme in many Tanzanian artists' music, including Remmy Ongala.[4]

His song "Kipenda Roho" was used in Oliver Stone's film Natural Born Killers.

He was reported to have died at his home on 13 December 2010 in Dar es Salaam.[5]

Posthumously, he received the Hall of Fame trophy at the 2012 Tanzania Music Awards.[6]


  1. ^ "Remmy Ongala, Tanzanian Musical Star, Dies at 63". The New York Times. 18 December 2010. Retrieved 18 January 2011. 
  2. ^ "Remmy Ongala". The Telegraph. 28 December 2010. 
  3. ^ Remmy Ongala Afropop Artist, Afropop Worldwide, retrieved 2010-12-13 .
  4. ^ Lemelle, Sidney J., "'Ni wapi Tunakwenda': Hip-Hop Culture and the Children of Arusha", in Basu, Dipannita; Lemelle, Sidney J., The Vinyl Ain't Final: Hip-Hop and the Globalization of Black Popular Culture, Ann Arbor, MI: Pluto Press, pp. 230–54 .
  5. ^ Remmy Ongala: Tanzania music fans mourn 'the Doctor', BBC News, 13 December 2010 .
  6. ^ Tanzania Music Awards Official website Retrieved 29 September 2012

Further reading[edit]

  • Sophia Thubauville (15 July 2003). "Remmy Ongala". Ntama Journal of African Music and Popular Culture. 

External links[edit]