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Wednesday 29 Oct 2014

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BBC Swahili leads Franco Makiadi anniversary tribute

Every facet of the life of the late Congolese and African music icon Luambo Makiadi, aka Franco, will be in the spotlight of special content on BBC Swahili marking the 20th anniversary of the artist's death.

Throughout the week leading up to the anniversary on Monday 12 October, dedicated programming on radio and online on bbcswahili.com will celebrate Franco's talent, influence and heritage.

Head of BBC Swahili, Solomon Mugera, says: "Franco was a trailblazer who had a profound effect on African music, and many leading African musicians of today wouldn't be what they are without the influence of the 'sorcerer of the guitar'. As the 20th anniversary of Franco's death approached, we thought, let's mark this anniversary by celebrating his life and his music."

As part of the special programming, BBC Swahili journalists, Noel Mwakugu and Lubungu Bya'ombe, will file a series of in-depth reports, exploring subjects such as Franco's development as an artist, his influence on Congolese music, his political views and his family life.

During the week, BBC Swahili will visit Franco's birthplace in Sona Bata in western DR Congo, speaking to his relatives and friends about the legacy he left back at his roots. The BBC will trace some of the many women in Franco's life to hear their stories of the good and bad times with him, and of what his children (he acknowledged having 19 altogether – 18 girls and one boy) are doing today and how they remember their father.

BBC Swahili will also trace his TPOK band's rise from roots all the way to stardom. Franco had a huge influence on Congolese music in and outside Congo: how many stars did he nurture, what was it like to work with him and how is he influencing modern performers in DR Congo and elsewhere? The programme will visit Franco's old base in the Kinshasa club Un Deux Trois and talk to women who love to hate Franco, finding some of his lyrics misogynistic.

Talking about BBC Swahili's take on the political aspect of Franco's music, Solomon Mugera comments: "Some of his compositions were politically very sensitive, and he ruffled many feathers. We'll talk about how Late President of Zaire, Mobutu Sseseseko, and a key political figure of the Mobutu regime, Kengo wa Dondo, found themselves at the receiving end of Franco's satire.

"In a special discussion programme, we'll also engage with DR Congo's Minister of Culture, Esdras Kambale Bahekwa, and top East African musicians in a conversation about Franco's influence on African music and spread of the Congolese culture."

Solomon adds: "We want our audiences across East and Central Africa, as well as those in the Swahili-speaking diaspora, to join us in this special week of programming celebrating the Franco phenomenon."

Notes to Editors

BBC Swahili is a multimedia broadcaster providing radio and online content to Swahili-speaking audiences.

BBC Swahili is available on BBC FM stations and/or partner radio networks in Burundi, DR Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. Programmes are also available via the website bbcswahili.com, which offers access to up-to-the minute news, features and analysis on East Africa and the rest of the world.

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