On the Rumba River
(LE BATELIER DE LA RUMBA)

Jacques Sarasin
Congo, France 2006 | 85 Min. | DVD, OmeU

Harassed by his wife to leave the shade of his tree and look for new con­tracts, Papa Wendo decides to get in touch with his old bud­dies again. He brings togeth­er thirty young and not-so-young musi­cians with whom he hopes to revive the Con­golese rumba. Gui­tars, Paten­gué and mukuas­sa are to resound from Kin­shasa all the way to Europe. Com­ment Wendo Kolosoy was born in 1925. Known as the «living mon­u­ment» of Con­golese music, Papa Wendo came to fame with his hit single Marie-Louise, a song to which the people attrib­uted magic powers, amongst them waking up the dead or bring­ing the genies of the river to dance. The rep­u­ta­tion was to cost him excom­mu­ni­ca­tion by the Bel­gian Fathers. Orphaned very early on, he worked as a boat­man for a decade, before becom­ing a boxer and later a singer – his life in a poem. Through tes­ti­mo­ni­als and meet­ings, Jacques Sarasin fol­lows not only the reunion of Wendo and his vet­er­an musi­cians, but also films parts of his daily, family life.