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Savrina Parevadee Chinien
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Parevadee Chinien

Papa Wendo

Jacques Sarasin

Alphonse Biolo Batilangandi

Aminata Panda "Maman Avion"

Antoine Moundanda

Bakolo Miziki

Famille Kolosoy

Fleuve Congo - Kinshasa

Fleuve Congo - Kinshasa

Fleuve Congo - Kinshasa

Fleuve Congo - Kinshasa

Ganga Champion

Joseph Munange "Maproko"

Mbinga Kabata "Tejos"

Michel Vula Diankatu "Missy" et Willy Nzofu Makonzo

Michel Vula Diankatu "Missy"

Mukubuele Nnzoku "Bikunda"

Wendo Kolosoy

Papa Wendo et Antoine Moudanda

Wendo et Joseph Munange "Maproko"

Wendo et sa femme

Je chanterai pour toi, Jacques SARASIN, 2002

On the Rumba river - Wendo, by Jacques Sarasin
The last note of Papa Wendo

Any Congolese old enough to recall the so-called "tango ya ba Wendo", the era of Papa Wendo, does so with a wistful sigh, for it was a time of hope when a long-oppressed land on the threshold of independence found a national voice through music. Some fifty years later during which the "decolonisation" had given way to several civil wars, Jacques Sarasin puts in the limelight several of the survivors of the first golden age of the Congolese rumba.

On the Rumba river depicts the vibrant personality of the singer Wendo Kolosoy (Papa Wendo), star of the Congolese rumba. When Papa Wendo is first filmed, he's lost in his thoughts under a tree and listens impassively to the remonstrations of his wife about their precarious financial situation. Indeed, the time of glory of the well-acclaimed star is behind him but he'll soon try to constitute his former band of musicians from the different parts of Kinshasa.

Kinshasa, capital of despair and hope

Papa Wendo's hopeful steps will lead the viewer on through the meanders of the lower-class residential areas of Kinshasa. Raindrops resounding like the percussions of musical instruments, children playing along the muddy paths, women at their daily tasks or just chatting, compose some of the scenes of the film.

The placid flow of the river with the rusted ships anchored in its murky waters, echoes the quiet life of the people in their "stale" surroundings where some of the houses are falling apart. At times some of them voice out their despair: a woman describing the loss of her husband and children and her continual struggles to survive; a musician recalling how in Angola, his native country, the Portuguese colonisers prevented singers from singing in Lingala language for fear of inciting the locals to rebellion.

Political background

Curiously enough, having been the witness of a Congo torn apart by civil wars, Papa Wendo broaches upon the political situation only once, almost at the end of the film, to denounce the inefficiency and corruption of the politicians. Patrice Lumumba, tragic figure of hope at the crucial impending time of independence, is not mentioned nor is the colonial spoliation and the millions of dead.
Only the frescos (African or African-inspired art exposed in a Belgian museum) serve as fleeting reminders of a dark, sinister history: white missionaries on boats, some of them killed by Africans, the capture of Patrice Lumumba...

Kinshasa and Brazzaville on the tempo of the rumba

Papa Wendo started his musical career in the 50's and is considered as the initiator of the rumba (having some latino-American rhythms and which is believed to have been exported to Cuba during the slave-trade). With his band, Victoria Kin, Wendo made the most of the few music clubs that operated in colonial Leopoldville. His song "Marie-Louise" (1952) brought him both national and international acclaim but he was excommunicated for a while by the Catholic Church (by Belgian priests) who considered the song as "satanic".
The film shows the undeniable vitality of Papa Wendo and his musicians composing new songs and developing brand new arrangements of classics. Kinshasa and Brazzaville coalesce in the tempo of the rumba as Papa Wendo and Antoine Moundanda merge their singing and musical talents.

The last note of Papa Wendo

Papa Wendo was born Antoine Kolosoy in 1925 in Mushie, near the northernmost reaches of the majestic Congo River. Travelling, boxing, and always singing, he naturally attracted the attention of the blooming Congolese music industry.
The people interviewed in the film describe the young Antoine Kolosoy as authoritative and always ready to get involved in a fight. The mature, wise Papa Wendo preaches that hope is to be found in unity and solidarity.
The Congolese rumba lives on and celebrates the memory of one of its most charismatic artists: Papa Wendo died on the 28th of July 2008.

Savrina Parevadee CHINIEN

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   liens films

On the Rumba River - Wendo 2006
Jacques Sarasin

   liens artistes

Kolosoy Wendo

Sarasin Jacques

   liens structures

CNC - Centre National du cinéma et de l'image animée (France)
France | PARIS cedex 16

Faire Bleu Productions
France | Paris

Icarus Films
États-Unis | BROOKLYN

France | PARIS

Trigon Film
Suisse | Ennetbaden

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