Veteran Congolese musician Bopol Mansiamina, the composer of the hit song Pitie, has died.
The 72-year-old musician, who has been ailing for almost four years since suffering a stroke, died on Sunday morning at a hospital in Evreux, France.
Speaking to the Nation, his Paris-based counterpart, Nyboma Mwandido, confirmed receiving the news from his family. "We have been in contact with his family members and it was only yesterday that they confirmed the sad news of his passing on," he said.
Nyboma and Bopol performed together in the 1980s Paris-based Les Quatre Etoiles (4 Stars band), which also featured mercurial singer Wuta Mayi and guitarist Syran Mbenza.
Kenyan fans of Bopol (Don Paolo) will recall that in late 1988, when the four stars group toured Kenya for a series of shows, he was in the entourage that included Passi Jo of the sister Kass Kass Band.
Bopol, an accomplished guitarist and composer, had performed with several groups in DR Congo before relocating to France in the 1980s to further his solo career.
As Nyboma recalled, their debut album with the 4 Stars in 1985 featured the song Ënfant Bamileke composed by Wuta Mayi.
"We did many other songs together and we are all saddened by this loss," Nyboma said.
Besides Pitie (Jalousie), Bopol will be remembered for some of his other popular compositions such as Manuelä, Helena, Samedi Soir, Belinda and Because No Money.
Back home in DR Congo, Bopol will be remembered for his stints from the late 1960s to 1970, with groups such as Orchestre Bamboula (where he performed alongside fellow guitarist Nedule Papa Noel), Dr Nico Kasanda's African Feista Sukisa Band and the All African Stars Band.
As a back-up guitarist, Bopol played the rhythm guitar on his compatriot, Mpongo Love's Partager album.
Mpongo Love is fondly remembered for her vocals on the evergreen Ndaya song.
Bopol's East African fans will recall his bass guitar backing on Samba Mapangala's Vunja Mifupa song. There has been an outpouring of grief on social media, with Bopol's fans sending their condolences. His death comes hardly a week after that of Kinshasa-based guitarist Gege Mangaya.
In Kenya, Nicholas Muriithi of Nyeri, Kennedy Ontuga (DJ Grand Molakisi) and Lawrence Nyakundi of Egesa FM were among those who eulogised the fallen Congolese music star.
Others were veteran media personality John Machio and Maximillah Barasa of Bungoma, both diehard Lingala music fans.