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Congolese dancing legend Radja Kula Mbuta dies in Nairobi hospital

The rhumba music scene is mourning the death of top Congolese dancing styles innovator Radja Kula Mbuta who died last week on Tuesday at a Nairobi hospital.

According to his son and musician Evala Mbuta, the fallen dancing styles legend had been an outpatient in Nairobi after having been flown from Kinshasa, DR Congo.

Speaking to Daily Nation on Thursday, Evala said they were making arrangements in collaboration with Cotu boss Francis Atwoli for his funeral arrangements.

“We are hoping to have his body flown back to Kinshasa for burial on Wednesday next week,” Evala said.

Evala MbutaRadja (Roger Mbuta Kula), who led the Station Japan band which back in the 1990s was renowned for innovating some of the top Congolese dancing styles like “Kotcho kotcho”, “Ndombolo” and Kibinda Nkoi”. This earned him the stage name “King of 6,600 dancing styles” amongst his fans in DR Congo.

In Nairobi, Radja made his debut with shows at the then popular Makuti Park Club in Nairobi South B back in 1997. Veteran promoter and Makuti Club proprietor Machua Waithaka eulogised Radja as a top stage show innovator who encouraged many other up and coming dancers.

“He will be remembered for his efforts in having popularised most of the top Congolese dancing styles in Kenya alongside his group Station Japan,” Machua said.

Before forming his group, Radja had stints with Zaiko Langa Langa, Victoria Eleison under King Kester Emeneya amongst other groups.

Notably, it was Emeneya (formerly with Papa Wemba’s Viva La Musica band) who was also behind the innovation of the famous “Kiwanzenza” dancing style.

As Evala recalls it was after Radja relocated back to DR Congo in 2007 that he ventured into the Kenya music scene with the Station Japan Fiesta Band.

Other Nairobi based Congolese rhumba groups like Rhumba Japan Band also followed in the footsteps of Radja Kula’s band. Rhumba Japan used to perform at the then-popular Simmers Restaurant, Citizen Vibro Club amongst other spots.

Others who eulogised Radja Kula include veteran Mombasa based rhumba fan Geoffrey Luyuku and Sammy Wamuri (Ya Kembo) of Nairobi.

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