Old Groves – Zambia Rikki Ililonga
By Austin Kaluba
Probably the best Zambian musician, Likezo Makuyu Ililonga who sings under his stage name Rikki Ililonga is a musician who has come a long way from the 1970s when he released his debut song Ulemuand followed it up with several albums among them Zambia, Soweto, Sunshine Love, Shantytown Boy and Frank Talk.
He established himself as a controversial musician especially when he sung Sheeben Queen which was banned because of its sexual lyrics and Olemekedzeka also banned for being too political.
The musician who is now in his 60s is still going strong both physically and musically and shuttles between his adopted home in Denmark and birth place Zambia.
Rikki who is working on an album which will feature a polished gem in Si-Lozi Bona Chwale(See now) is now into blues , a music form he encompassed in his formative years when he graduated from a political leadership course at Syracuse University in America. The course was sponsored by the UNIP party which Rikki was a member of belonging to the Zambia Youth Service ZYS, a precursor to the Zambia National Service. Rikki abandoned what could have been a lucrative political career for music. He has remained a highly political musician who employs serious political messages in his song. He is a close friend of the first republican president Kenneth Kaunda with whom he recorded an anti-HIV/AIDS album “We Shall Fight”.
Rikki has been accused of being heavily westernised an unfair accusation, since the musician has sang in Zambian major languages including his mother tongue Si-Lozi.
The unitary song sang in Ci-Bemba, Ci-Nyanja and Si-Lozi highlights the celebratory mood that gripped the country at independence and lasted up to the late 70’s. It also calls for unity in a country where tribal affliation usually overshadows national identity.
Zambia was Rikki’s response to Congolese musician Joseph Kabassele’s unitary song Independence Cha Cha sang in French and the country’s three popular languages Lingala, Tshiluba and Kikongo./ End..