Jean Bosco Mwenda – Masanga

By Jim Weaver

“Jean Bosco Mwenda, also known as Mwenda wa Bayake was born in 1930 in the Congo and died in an auto accident in Zambia in 1990. The song Masanga was written around 1952. There are three YouTube videos of Jean Bosco, one of which shows him playing another of his compositions. I believe this track is from a 1994 record issued in South Africa.
My first knowledge of this song was in 1963 when I ran across the music tab in a “Sing Out” magazine article. I never heard it played until I heard Ernie Hawkins arrangement on his cd “Rags and Bones“(2006). Ernie’s version is very beautiful but is a slower tempo than the original played here. Elijah Wald learned this song directly from Jean Bosco; he has an entertaining YouTube video where he sings the original lyrics.”

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