Monday, April 2, 2007


Born: 1938, Sona-Bata, Congo Died: 1989

At the age of seven, Franco made his first guitar from a cooking oil tin and used it to entertain at the sidelines of soccer matches. He got his first real guitar at 11. In 1953, is when he got his first work as a session guitarist at the Greek-owned Loningisa studio. At this time Democratic Republic of Congo was still the Belgian Congo. In 1956, Franco officially launched OK Jazz as a six-piece unit, later became TPOK Jazz--adding TP for tout puissant or "all powerful."

Franco has been called the the godfather of African music. The government of Zaire dubbed him Grande Maître, a title usually reserved for judges and scholars, even though his lyrics got him jailed or denied permission to leave the country on more than one occasion. He managed to tour Europe and the United States in the mid-1980s.

Franco’s lyrics, in the Lingala language, were full of social, often satirical, commentary. With texts full of hidden and not-so-hidden agendas, he sang of government, fate and—his favorite topic—the eternal conflict between men and women. His epic song “Mario,” about a lazy educated man and the older woman he exploits until she kicks him out, was a sell out.

When Franco died in 1989, President Mobutu of Zaire gave him a state funeral, which was attended by other African heads of state and their representatives, and by tens of thousands of ordinary Zairians who traveled to Kinshasa to pay their respects. During the official four-day national mourning period, all the local radio stations played T.P.O.K. Jazz nonstop. More Information

Listen to Franco songs Mario, Tantine, Baneko na Ngai ya Mobali, Mamu, Layile
Click here


MTANZANIA. said...

I salute you for the attractive history of Franco. I like the song "Angela"


Habari Mtanzania, The late maestro Franco is one man whose musical skills exude sheer excellence. My favourite song is "Mario".


Ronald said...


Franco is without any doubt the greatest musician Congo has ever produce. It is very difficult to pick a favourite song from his immense repertoire.

Pictures of a live concert in 1983 taken by my brother can be seen here:



Hi Ronald, Thanks a lot for the link those are nice photos of Franco. I will add the link to the posting in the new website I am creating.

Ronald said...

Hi Liz


I have just added some more pictures of another Franco concert: