The Congolese-born Pan-Africanist rhumba musician General Defao has just died. He died in Douala, Cameroon. He died on the night of 27th December 2021. He died when preparing for the end-of-year music performance that was supposed to be carried out in the city of Douala.
He was born Lulento Matoumona 62 years ago in Zaire. He, later on, adopted the stage name General Defao as a matter of musical charisma that had earned him explosive fandom across ages, geographies and races.
General Defao was a gifted songwriter, vocalist and dancer. He commanded four languages: English, Lingala, French and Kiswahili. He used all these languages on the stage with much ease and charm. This was the prowess he always displayed in the performance of his seminal songs like Ndobolo ya Dzolo. In brief, Defao was a dynamo of music and rhumba culture.
His verbal mettle in the use of the French language carried artistic giftedness redolent of giants like Marcel Proust. His stage charm was also whetted by his good physical looks, physical stature, height and pronounced light skin that got him set for final coronation from his unique gift of well-ordered and charming and mellifluous voice. Indeed, Defao was an apex of musical talent and physical stature in African humanity.
However, Defao, in a constant struggle against poverty, lived as a struggling man in Tanzania and in Kenya. He has had a lot of years in Kenya, where he lived at the slum or ghetto estate of Eastleigh (iyisili) on the outskirts of Nairobi. But he never gave up on music; he was working as a live band performer in different nightclubs in Nairobi.
It is also important to note that General Defao survived a long jail term at Industrial Area prison in Nairobi. This is a notorious prison facility known for regular deaths among its inmates, so it was so heroic for Defao to survive such a risky stint in his life. This is an experience by the musical genius which must compel humanity to ask; – why are African musicians the poorest of the earth? Or why are Congolese artists poor?
Recurrent political chaos and instability in Congo have perfected huge betrayal of the world’s greatest pool of musical talent that is naturally endowed in the people of Congo. Thus, it is logical and very imperative for Congo to stop the war so that it can give chance to the bloom of its gift of natural endowment in music and literature as evidently displayed in the Congolese culture.
In spite of life in urban poverty, political instability, hostility in foreign countries and other economic challenges, Defao has persisted as a rhumba musician that was defiant to political boundaries. He has always soldiered on; his untimely death in Cameroon speaks to us that he was a musical warrior who has just died in the battlefield.
Let us benchmark him in our diverse cultural and artistic endeavors. He was the sky of African music, no amount of economic conspiracy was able to impeach his workmanship.