Remmy Ongala

Musical Artist

1947 – 2010


Who was Remmy Ongala?

Ramadhani "Remmy" Mtoro Ongala was a Tanzanian guitarist and singer. Ongala was born in Kindu near the Tanzanian border, in what was Belgian Congo at the time, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

A rising musician since the late 1980s, Remmy Ongala was part of the soukous scene, which in conjunction with his Orchestre Super Matimila he helped to transmute to the Tanzanian music often called Ubongo, the Swahili word for brain, in Tanzania, which in turn led to Tanzanian hip-hop particularly in the city of Dar es Salaam during the 1990s. Ubongo is usually perceived by artists and listeners alike as "conscious" music, one that actively contributes to Tanzanian soundscape with socio-political commentary. Believing in the abolishment of racism and social injustice, Ongala infuses his lyrics with these messages. His inspiring message has led him to be nicknamed "Dr Remmy". Following the end of British colonial rule in 1961, Julius Nyerere introduced the value of Ujamaa, or familyhood, which emphasized equality and justice. Such became a recurring theme in many Tanzanian artists' music, including Remmy Ongala.

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Dec 13, 2010

on July 23, 2013


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