On a trip to the Democratic republic of Congo, I had been very moved by a show he organised for us at Kinshasa's National Theatre. There, in the middle of an abandoned theatre that was devastated by time, the music of Wendo welcomed us, transported us.
On stage, the profile of the ageing Wendo agile, mischievous, glowing wiped out time and place. For this little concert, he had invited neighbours from his parcelle (patch) to accompany him dancing one of the most beautiful dances I have ever seen: the Congolese Rumba.
What elegance, what sensuality The subtle movements, lightly sketched by the couples, followed the slightest inflection of the musicians on stage. And in this unique moment, the need to prolong and enable the re-discovery of this legendary character was obvious.
Wendo has been a ship's mechanic on the River Congo. He was the foremost crooner on African stages, the writer of "hits" that marked the history of African music, the pioneer or inventor of the Congolese Rumba. He has been protected and then attacked by his country's politicians. "Marie Louise", one of the songs to which the Congolese at the time attributed the magic virtue of being able to awaken the dead, was considered a Satanic tune by the Catholic Church. The song was excommunicated and Wendo had to flee to Kisangani.
His story is mixed with that of a whole continent. It is far more complex that these few anecdotes.