Taxi seats. Sometime back, MP Mpuuga posted on Facebook photos of a Kinshasa public taxi with wooden contraptions going for passenger seats. He was with his fellow Muna Buddu MP Gonzaga Ssewungu.
If it were up to Mathias Mpuuga, the MP for Masaka Municipality, fixing public transport in Kinshasa would be his number one priority. Fortunately (or unfortunately), Mpuuga’s choice or wish or prioritisation has no bearing on what Les Kinoise (Kinshasanas) want.
If Mpuuga must know, the rage in Kinshasa is the popular demand that government declares November 30 as the National Cultural Day in honour of Pascal Emmanuel Sinamoyi Tabu, popularly known as Seignuer (Lord) Tabu Ley Rochereau (who died on November 30, 2013).
There is a popular tide of Tabuleymania whipped by musicians. In Belgians, old guys who played with Tabu Ley were the back-up act at a show by Pegguy Tabu Ley (Tabu Ley’s son).
In Kinshasa, musicians called a news conference and issued a statement demanding that a National Monument be constructed in Kinshasa in honour of Tabu Ley as a musician (and not as a politician); politicians should stop riding on Tabuleymania and that Tabu Ley be honoured as a national hero and declared Le Monument de Musique Congolaise (Monument of Congolese Music).
Knowing the influence of musicians on Les Kinoise, I can bet government is likely to consider the musicians’ demands. And eh! I was teary listening to Mbilia Bel’s song on Tabu Ley.
Tales from Mobutu’s Zaire: By 1976, my part of Uganda (after being wasted by Idi Amin’s Economic War) was economically (and socio-culturally) annexed to Mobutu’s Zaire. Factories were established in Kisangani to supply western Uganda.
About that time, a multi-national tyre company launched the Good Year car tyre brand in Kinshasa. Although everything in Zaire revolved around music, I am not aware of any promo music for Good Year (pronounced as gudyiri). But there was our native music genre called Kaling’Inwe (fold your toe), a cross of Bakonzo’s voodoo and afro-commune heritage pop.
Please note, this music classification is my creation. Car tyre sandals were initially a poor man’s refuge for footwear; and my father swore over his ancestry that car tyre footwear (otherwise Rugabire, Tangir’inyana, Guliwhere Tooro) would never touch his feet.
A story was then told that Mobutu went to the UN with broad heeled brogan shoes. The promoters of Good Year tyres lurched on it and called Mobutu’s shoes Gudyiri; with a promo tagline going like: Makambo Ya Mikolo Oyo (trending). And all of a sudden, car tyres became ala mode; they were now called gudyiri (tying in with the Good Year car tyre promos).
Young men put on Gudyiri (car tyre sandals, not Mobutu’s brogans) as thick as six inches accompanied by belly bottom trousers. Songs in praise of young men in Gudyiri were aplenty.
Mpuuga’s Kinshasa Escapades: Sometime back, MP Mpuuga posted on Facebook photos of a Kinshasa public taxi with wooden contraptions going for passenger seats. He was with his fellow Muna Buddu MP Gonzaga Ssewungu. I asked him to come to the real Kinshasa and I take him around (of course, I was joking; I was in Kampala).
Like many East Africans, MP Mpuuga sought a good laugh from the public. And like a bona fide Congolese (by economic annexation), I attempted to deny him his laughter wish. ‘You are probably as far from Kinshasa CBD as someone in Lugazi is from Kampala’s Kampala Road. Kinshasa is big, you know,’ I explained.
The last time I was in Kinshasa, I was in such a hurry, but I managed to visit a friend at the Tanzanian Embassy on Boulevard du 30 Juin. I can assure Mpuuga that Kinshasa CBD roads are cleaner than those in Kampala. I will make a better comparison when I return to our Kampala next week.
Mr Bisiika is the executive editor of East African Flagpost.