African news. The African music scene has lost an icon in Congolese Musician Tshala Muana who was announced dead at 64 years old on Saturday the 11th December 2022, by her producer and companion Claude Mashala.
“In the early hours of this morning, the good Lord took the decision to take back the national mamu Tshala Muana. May the good Lord be glorified for all the good times she has given us on this earth. Farewell my Mamu,” shared Mr Mashala on the day of the star’s death.
For the music world, this was a shock. Tshala Muana was, alongside Mbilia Bel, the oldest female star still active in the DRC.
Tshala had been less visible on the big stages in recent times and her public appearances in 2022 have have included short private performances.
Her last big media hit was her song “Ingratitude”, which was not officially released, but a track of which went viral on social media in November 2020.
Muana is also known to have spent a few hours in police custody after she was arrested for a song that was assumed to be political and a critic of the government of DR Congo President Félix Tshisekedi.
Who is Tshala Muana?
Elisabeth Tshala Muana was born on March 13, 1958 in Elisabethville, now Lubumbashi, in the south of the DRC.
She started her career as a dancer in Kinshasa in 1977 in the orchestra of another famous singer, Mpongo Love, then with Abeti Masikini, another female star, who was also a mentor of Mbilia Bel.
From being a dancer, Tshala became a backing singer before she left soon after to go solo. It was in Côte d’Ivoire in the 1980s that Tshala Muana revealed herself to the world.
She sang mainly in Tshiluba, the language spoken in Kasai, in the centre of the DRC, and distinguished herself by her often suggestive and provocative dances. She made a name for herself in the world of Rumba, which is dominated by Lingala, the language spoken in Kinshasa and the west of the DRC and in Congo-Brazzaville.
She performed in several West African countries including for Heads of State. In the early 1990s, her aura extended to Europe.
Surprisingly, after the fall of Marshal Mobutu, in 1997, Tshala Muana became close to the country’s new strongman, Laurent Désiré Kabila. The singer became involved in politics, singing to the glory of Mzee Kabila and singing “patriotic” songs.
This “patriotism” led her from Kabila senior to Kabila (Joseph) junior, when Laurent Désiré Kabila was assassinated in 2001.
The singer, already known in Congo as “the queen of Mutuashi” (her musical style originating in Kasai), had been given another admiring nickname, “mamu nationale” (national mother).
After President Félix Tshisekedi came to power, Tshala Muana remained loyal to Joseph Kabila. Her commitment to the former president disgusted Tshisekedi’s supporters, as she is from Kasai, like President Félix Tshisekedi.
Her health started to deteriorate a few years ago. She was said to be diabetic. During the Covid in 2020, she was hospitalised several times.