Les Mangelepa was a splinter group from Baba Gaston Ilunga Wa Ilunga’s Baba National. I came to know band members of Mangelepa when they briefly lived as our neighbours at Golf Course Estates in Nairobi. They always sounded as if they were quarreling amongst themselves, but the moment they start singing, it was pure joy to hear them. And, whenever Les Mangelepa composed a song, they also invented a dance to go with that song – at least up to and including their Malawi Zikomo LP. Rumours had it that some influential residents complained that they were making too much noise. Eventually they had to move to Buru Buru Estates all the way across on the far side of Nairobi.
I attended their live shows twice while they were based at Serena Hotel near Uhuru Park.
In 1979/80 Mangelepa made a trip to Kampala after several postponements. Most people who had booked in advanced had demanded their money back from the promoters. The few of us who kept their tickets turned out to be lucky because the ticket price trebled. I bumped into Kabila Kabanze “Evani” with two of the promoters on Kampala Road. The promoters were excited and started introducing Kabila to me only to be surprised that Kabila knew me and asked me in Kiswahili what I was doing in Kampala. He then requested me to take some pictures of their performance if I still had my camera. I ended up taking dozens of their photos from their performances at Delight Cinema, Lugogo Indoor Stadium and Makerere University.
I gave all those photos to “Le Capitane” Bwamy and individual artists with the safe knowledge that I shall reprint my copies anytime I want since I had the Negatives. I retained a few poor quality “rejects”. As fate would have it, the “rejects” are the only photos with me now as my camera and all my negatives in the camera case was stolen from our car outside Cameo cinema in Nairobi. But I believe the “rejects” are still better than nothing.
Twinkale Wa Twinkale “Mtoto (Mwana) Ya Mama Maria”, nicknamed thus because he was a devout christian and always wearing a small gold crucifix and whom also happened to be the composer of Detshu did not make the trip to Kampala due to family sickness. Instead the group brought a Tanzanian musician who sang on their english and reggae numbers. They also brought a white lady, Wendy, who would do a “strip dance” to the tune of Kadgera and ended up causing a lot of commotion at Makerere University. I suspect that some of the readers of this blog who were “Freshers” in their first year at Makerere at the time can testify to this.
It is my hope is that we can gather all of Mangelepa rare hits and put together a complete collection.
(click through for higher resolution images).
Thank you David for sharing this little piece of history and the photos. Please keep the guest posts coming.