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How Rhumba legend Franco Makiadi’s ‘no luck’ with women influenced his music

It has been 31 years since the death of Rhumba legend Franco Luambo Luanzo Makiadi. But even with three decades gone, Franco has remained immortal among Africans through his many musical works counting to more than 1000 songs.

With his band ‘Le T.P.O.K Jazz’ formed in 1955, the Democratic Republic of Congo Rhumba maestro released hit after hit that entertained the whole of Africa. As Raoul Yema- author of the book ‘Franco le grand maître’ puts it, “people from the whole of Africa did not use to understand the lyrics of Franco’s songs, they don’t know what is being said, what is most important to them is the rhythm”.

The King of Rhumba had no limits in his choices of subjects to sing about. In fact, in an interview with CGTN Africa in 2013, Franco’s first wife Pauline Mboyo recounts how he could settle personal feuds by composing a song.

Franco sang about social issues, politics, as well as criticise bad behaviour in the society. He was inspired by everyday life, but one subject was the overriding theme in his musical work- Women.

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No luck with women

Even with the extraordinary musical mind that was genius, Franco was not so great when it came to women.

According to Mbokamosika.com, “The Congolese singer-songwriter has shown all the contours of love in his lyrics, describes all the subtleties of married life and paints a woman’s soul in all its forms. He honored and praised her but also vilified her by denouncing her faults.”

It all started when the love of his life, Marie-José Kenge alias Majos, broke up with him unexpectedly. Franco was left heartbroken and sad prompting him to write a few songs about the issue. Franco became quite harsh towards women.

Even in marriage, Franco hoped from one marriage to another. Marriages that resulted in 18 children- 17 girls, against one boy.

He married his first wife Pauline Moyo and together had five children, four girls and a son.

He then dumped Pauline for one of his dancers, Annie Mbosi.

This is the genesis of Franco composing many songs touching on women.

Franco’s song Mamou was rather sexist. Here is a translated lyrics

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