Ofakombolo by Jupiter & Okwess

My wife and I are away on our tenth wedding anniversary holiday this weekend. I wanted to post a song befitting the landmark, but I struggled to find anything appropriate. Led Zeppelin’s ‘Ten Years Gone ‘ has always felt autumnal to me, like a breakup song. I thought of posting David Bowie’s ‘Five Years’ twice, but that song is downright apocalyptic. And John Cale’s ‘On A Wedding Anniversary’ features the lyrics “death strikes their house” and didn’t feel appropriate.

So let’s discuss what I’ve been listening to this week instead. Jupiter Bokondji and his backing band Okwess International are from the Democratic Republic Of The Congo, and have been together since 1990, but their career was interrupted by civil war. With the resumption of peace in the 2000s, Jupiter’s career gained momentum again and they’ve been featured in a documentary and played in the Glastonbury festival.

Jupiter refers to his blend of music as “Bofenia Rock” – it has elements of rock and roll and traditional Congolese rhythms. ‘Ofakombolo’ is taken from their second album, 2017’s Kin Sonic. The album includes contributions from Damon Albarn and Warren Ellis, while Massive Attack’s Robert Del Naja designed the cover art, but the appeal is in the charismatic vocals and the tight interplay of the rhythms and propulsive guitar.

I’m largely ignorant of African music, apart from obvious touchstones like Graceland and Fela Kuti, but if there’s more music like this lurking around, I should spend more time with African artists.


  1. First of all, congrats to your 10th anniversary! As for African music, I’m afraid I haven’t had any exposure either except for Graceland. Luckily, I saw Paul Simon perform with African musicians from the album shortly after it had come out.

    Watching the skill and more importantly the joy of the African musicians was simply priceless. It was hands down one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.

    So, yes, I suspect there are many African music gems to discover!

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