Late African singer, Prince Nico Mbarga will be happier more than ever wherever he is in his death as his children are putting everything in their best to immortalise their late father.
Mbarga, a leader of the Rocafil Jazz music group and founder of the Panco system of music remains a celebrated African music figure known for his timeless popular ‘Sweet Mother’ song that still sweeps across the Africa and beyond till date.
At the time, Mbarga’s ‘sweet mother’ song sometimes dubbed ‘African anthem’ was suggested to be the top twenty bestselling songs in history and voted as Africa’s favourite song by BCC readers and listeners in 2004, even years after the music legend had left the surface of the earth.
Born on January 1, 1950, Mbarga had an active music career from 1970 until he met his untimely death in Calabar on June 24, 1997 while heading to catch up a visa collection for a tour of 50 states in the U.S.
To canonize their late father, the late music legend’s children in conjunction with well-wishers, over months, erected a statue of Mbarga, organised a music concert and launched a foundation in the music legend’s name.
The statue is sited on border road of Ikom and overlooks the road heading towards the Nigeria/Cameroun border, a symbolic message to the music legend’s dual nationality of the two countries. The statue in Ikom reiterates the fact that Mbarga lived and did business in the locality while fostering his music career.
The concert tagged ‘Nico Mbarga 20th Anniversary’ was held at Jandged Resort in Ikom to mark the 20th anniversary of the legend’s unfortunate demise.
The concert also provided upcoming musicians the opportunity to perform archival songs from the music Mbarga recorded. It also attempted to reunite members of the Rocafil Jazz musical group, but only Francis Mbu, one of Mbarga’s lead back-up vocalist among the five still living, could make it to the concert.
Mbu performed alongside Nico Mbarga jnr, Slimphilz Barga and Estelle Mbarga attempting to mimic the exact performance style and voice of the late music legend drawing afresh memories of the late singer as the show’s danced to familiar tunes.
The high point of the event was the launch of the Nico Mbarga Sweet Mother Foundation (NMSMF) to relive the values Mbarga stood for.
Meanwhile, Nico Mbarga jnr, the executive director of NMSMF, in a statement, disclosed that he and his siblings are planning a full rebirth of their late father’s Rocafil Band with particular interest in promoting the late icon’s ‘Panco’ genre of music.
A member of the band, Louisiana Tilda, reportedly moved to Paris while the location of the other three members is unknown.
When he died, Mbarga was survived by 10 children, but Pauline, his eighth daughter died in 2011 after a brief illness. Among his remaining nine children, four (Nico, Descrow, Estelle and Slimphilz) are actively involved in promoting their late father’s ‘panco’ style of music while the other five (Joan, Lillian, Lucy, Lionel, and Nicoline) are engaged in business and in the civil service.
Source: The Nation