Matadidi Mário Buana Kitoko ‘Volta Camarada’ (CDA, 1976)
Matadidi Mário Buana Kitoko was born on Maquela do Zombo, in the Uíje province, near the border with DR Congo (then the Belgian Congo). When he was a child his parents went north, to Kinshasa, leaving the Portuguese-ruled Angola. He witnessed Congo’s independence and was soon trying his luck on a thriving music scene.
First with O.D. Jazz and then, spectacularly, with Vercky’s Orchestre Vévé, he made a name for himself. Finally, in 1972, Vévé’s disgruntled front-line trio of singers (Matadidi ‘Mario’ Mabele, as he was then called, Loko ‘Djeskain’ Massengo and Bonghat ‘Max Sinatra’ Tshekabu) formed what was arguably the year’s hottest band, Trio Madjesi.
Songs like ‘Madjesi’, ‘Sosoliso na Sosoliso’, ‘Longoma’, ‘Photo Madjesi’ and ‘Zanga Zanga’ catapulted the trio into selling, according to Gary Stewart’s book “Rumba on the River”, over 65.000 copies of its first records. After a couple of years as one of the country’s leading bands, the trio announced that it had signed a contract to play at the Olympia, in Paris. But UMUZA (Union des Musiciens Zaïrois), run by Franco, suspended the trio’s activities for twelve months, following an allegation of financial fraud, that proved impossible to bear. Disappointed and unable to work, Matatidi Mário, at 34, decided to leave the Congo and move back to Angola.
As Trio Madjesi’s records had been released in Luanda, by Rebita, Mário, although he couldn’t speak Portuguese, was able to get involved in the local music scene. In 1976 he formed a band – later to be known as Inter Palanca. With Diana, Sexito Pop and Mustang as backing-singers, Timex (rhythm guitar), Teddy (solo guitar), Mogue (bass), Mick (drums), Domé and Sassa (trumpet), André (trombone), Franco (sax) and Kinito (percussion), some of whom summoned from Kinshasa, the newly appointed Matadidi Mário Buana Kitoko and his Orchestra was ready to perform.
And what a debut: in Luanda’s Pavilhão da Cidadela Desportiva, on the very first anniversary of Angola’s Proclamation of Independence, on November 11th, Matadidi electrified the audience with an exuberant stage presence and a series of dance moves lifted from James Brown’s repertoire, singing in lingala (Congo’s lingua franca) and kikongo (the idiom learned from his parents) and dedicating ‘Volta Camarada’ to Angola’s first president, Agostinho Neto, and the FAPLA (the Popular Armed Forces for the Liberation of Angola, MPLA’s military wing).
The track, featured above, was immediately issued by CDA (Companhia de Discos de Angola) with ref# NCS-2008, and sounds like a classic Congolese song of the period, with its sweet vocal harmonies, the solo guitar carrying the second melody, the funky bass line, the seben (instrumental break), the rhythm changes, the brass responses… and the chorus goes: “thank you, thank you Agostinho Neto, thank you Fapla. On November 11th, 1975, Angola was free”!
Over the years Matadidi Mário became a household name in Angola. He toured, ran a nightclub (Kussunguila) and had significant radio airplay. But with the civil war escalating, like so many singers and performers (and hundreds of thousands of civilians), Mário left the country in 1990, moving to France, where he recorded three albums. In 2005 he again returned to his homeland. Just last year he released “Masikilo”.
[This post is dedicated to World Service, Ghost Capital, Global Groove and many of the blogs you can find on Angola45’s links page]