The Incredible Lightness of Being Tabu Ley Rochereau and Osho on Vegetarianism Curated by Rene Volpi
Tabu Ley Rochereau is more than just one of the greatest singers and composers in African popular music. He's also the master politician of the Congolese dance-band nation, which has splintered, fractured, revolted, imploded and rebuilt itself more or less continuously over the course of three generations while producing some of the world's most beautiful and sophisticated music along the way.
Born Pascal Emmanuel Sinamoyi Tabou in 1940 in Banningville, a port town in the Banandu region of the Belgian Congo, Tabu Ley was raised in Léopoldville. He acquired the nickname "Rochereau" as a schoolboy. Teenage Tabu Ley was a prodigy, and the Lingala, French and pidgin-Spanish songs he submitted to Joseph "Le Grand Kalle" Kabasele eventually earned him a gig with Kabasele's African Jazz, the city's top band. Rochereau enjoyed his first hit in 1958 with "Kelya," the dulcet rumba that appropriately kicks off The Voice of Lightness, a marvelous Sterns anthology of Tabu Ley sides released between 1961 and 1977 — with volume two carrying us to 1993.
The first in a long series of professional splits occurred in 1963, when most of Kabasele's band — including Rochereau and seminal Congolese guitarist "Dr. Nico" Kasanda — split in a financial huff and started their own band, African Fiesta, the best of whose increasingly exploratory Latin-tinged sounds can be heard on African Fiesta Volume I (1962-63) and Rochereau et l'African Fiesta 1968/69. Inspired first by traditional likembe thumb piano music, Dr. Nico took on a woozy Hawaiian steel guitar sound you can hear in "N'daya Paradis." The guitarist left African Fiesta in '65, but Tabu Ley had no problem finding suitable replacements, and went on to record much great music with suave lead guitarist Guvanu Vangu. Rochereau picked up some James Brown dance moves, began extending, hired Congolese music's first traps drummer (Seskain Molenda), and enhanced the spectacle with his dancing Rocherettes.
Africa Fiesta offered a sophisticated urban alternative to the rootsier vibes of Tabu Ley's longtime competitor and eventual partner, Congolese guitar giant Franco Luambo and his OK Jazz. Rochereau's softer, more expressive voice made him particularly attractive to female listeners, while his increasingly dynamic soukous grooves, in which a balladic opening section introduced a longer rhythmic throwdown called a sebene, was moving both Venusian and Martian dancers. Zaire's authoritarian president, Mobutu Sese Soko, dug his sound in a big way, too — although he suspended Africa Fiesta for three months in 1968, condemning the group's late arrival at the presidential New Year's Eve party as nothing less than "attempted sabotage of the artistic and cultural evening."
Following a profile-raising 1970 appearance in Paris (reconstructed, complete with fake applause, on À l'Olympia (Paris) 1970), Tabu Ley shed several musicians and changed his band's name to Afrisa International (he also temporarily dropped his own colonially tinged "Rochereau"). Tabu Ley continued to spread his love among different ethnic groups while inventing or borrowing whatever was moving fickle Zaireans. He lost momentum in 1977, when several bandmembers abandoned him for singer Sam Mangwana's African All-Stars (as commented upon in "Ponce Pilate") but regained his footing the following year when he installed an enhanced lineup at his Kinshasa club, Type K (a French-Spanish pun on tipica). Dr. Nico even returned to the fold briefly in 1980, resulting in the majestic "Ohambe" among other old-school delights.
Seeking a pretty face to co-front Afrisa, Seigneur (Lord) Rochereau, as he became known, anointed sweet-voiced Mbilia Bel in 1982. With Tabu Ley supplying her music, the 22-year-old became Africa's preeminent female vocalist, thanks to terrific albums such as Eswi Yo Wapi (Where Did It Hurt You?). Another winner, "Mobali Na Ngai Wana" (This Husband of Mine) praised her mentor's — and future husband's — looks, wealth, and talent. Tabu Ley and Mbilia Bel separated in 1988, some time after the bandleader added singer Faya Tess to his ensemble. Tabu Ley once claimed to have fathered 69 children around the world and probably launched the careers of at least as many musicians.
After mourning the death of Le Grand Kalle together, Rochereau's Parisian sessions with Franco in 1983 resulted in four albums. Lisanga Ya Banganga (Gathering of Healers) describes the highly unexpected nature of their collaboration ("We're magicians!"), while "Lettre à Mr. le DG" delivered a scathing indictment Mobutu's corrupt regime in a thinly disguised allegory. Like so many Congolese musicians, Tabu Ley moved to Paris to escape the economic catastrophe Zaire had become under Mobutu's hand. Informed he wouldn't be welcome back if he wished to return, Tabu Ley addressed his exile in "Exil-Ley" and "Le Glas a Sonné" (The Bell Has Tolled).
Rochereau lived in Los Angeles during the mid '90s and returned to Zaire in 1997, where he helped form a political party, the Congolese Rally for Democracy. His musical career no doubt provided him a bonus political education; he has since served as a cabinet minister, member of parliament, and Vice-Governor of Kinshasa. In 2008 Tabu Ley Rochereau suffered a stroke from which he has recovered slowly, and remains one of the living legends of African popular music.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Next, Osho on Vegetarianism~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Osho Vegetarianism Quotes – Vegetarianism is of immense help.
The idea of vegetarianism is of immense value; it is based on great reverence for life.
It is the other way round: food cannot make you spiritual, but if you are spiritual your food habits will change. Eating anything will not make much difference. You can be a vegetarian and cruel to the extreme, and violent; you can be a non-vegetarian and kind and loving. Food will not make much difference. In India there are communities who have lived totally with vegetarian food; many Brahmins have lived totally with vegetarian food. They are non-violent but they are not spiritual.
I don’t teach vegetarianism; it is a by-product of meditation. Wherever meditation has happened, people have become vegetarian, always, for thousands of years.
Vegetarianism has nothing to do with religion: it is something basically scientific. It has nothing to do with morality, but it has much to do with aesthetics. It is unbelievable that a man of sensitivity, awareness, understanding, love, can eat meat. And if he can eat meat then something is missing he is still unconscious somewhere of what he is doing, unconscious of the implications of his acts.
If you meditate long enough, deep enough, it is impossible for you to hurt anybody for food; it is impossible. It is not a question of argument, it is not a question of scriptures, it is not who says what, it is not a question of calculating that if you take vegetarian food you will become spiritual; it is automatic. It is not a question of cunningness, you simply become spiritual. The whole thing seems so absurd. Just for food, killing animals, birds, seems so absurd, it falls down.
With me, meditation is the only essential religion. And everything that follows it is virtue, because it comes of its own accord. You don’t have to drag it, you don’t have to discipline yourself for it. I have nothing to do with vegetarianism, but I know that if you meditate you are going to grow new perceptivity, new sensitivity, and you cannot kill animals.
Vegetarianism should not be anything moral or religious. It is a question of aesthetics: one’s sensitivity, one’s respect, one’s reverence for life.
No vegetarian has been able to achieve a single Nobel prize. It is a clear-cut condemnation of vegetarianism. Why do all the Nobel prizes go to non-vegetarians? — because vegetarian food does not contain those proteins which create intelligence. And unless we provide those proteins, intelligence cannot grow. The body is a very delicate phenomenon and it needs a very well balanced diet.
In my commune, I have added non-fertilized eggs to the vegetarian food. I am a vegetarian and I would like the whole world to become vegetarian — but not at the cost of risking your intelligence. Non-fertilized eggs fulfill the need completely; in fact, better than non-vegetarian food. We should make it a point that non-vegetarian food is not allowed in the universities because to kill, to do violence just for food, is so ugly and so inhuman that you cannot expect these people to behave lovingly, sensitively, humanly. Non-vegetarian food is one of the basic causes of the whole society being almost in a continuous fight. It makes you insensitive, it makes you hard, it makes you a stone. And it creates things in you — anger, violence — which can be easily avoided.
Life in its infinite forms exists as one organic unity. We are part of it: the part should feel reverence for the whole. That is the idea of vegetarianism. It simply means: don’t destroy life. It simply means: life is God — avoid destroying it, otherwise you will be destroying the very ecology.
Vegetarianism functioned as a purification. When you eat animals you are more under the law of necessity. You are heavy, you gravitate more towards the earth. When you are a vegetarian you are light and you are more under the law of grace, under the law of power, and you start gravitating towards the sky.
Vegetarianism is a conscious effort, a deliberate effort, to get out of the heaviness that keeps you tethered to the earth so that you can fly — so that the flight from the alone to the alone becomes possible.
Vegetarianism is of immense help. It changes your chemistry. When you eat and live on animals…. The first thing: whenever an animal is killed the animal is angry, afraid — naturally. When you kill an animal… just think of yourself being killed. What will be the state of your consciousness? What will be your psychology? All kinds of poisons will be released in your body, because when you are angry a certain kind of poison is released into your blood. When you are afraid, again a certain other kind of poison is released into your blood. And when you are being killed, that is the utmost in fear, anger. All the glands in your body release all their poison. And man goes on living on that poisoned meat. If it keeps you angry, violent, aggressive, it is not strange; it is natural. Whenever you live on killing, you don’t have any respect for life; you are inimical to life. And the person who is inimical to life cannot move into prayer — because prayer means reverence for life.
Pythagoras was the first to introduce vegetarianism to the West. It is of profound depth for man to learn how to live in friendship with nature, in friendship with creatures. That becomes the foundation. And only on that foundation can you base your prayer, your meditativeness. You can watch it in yourself: when you eat meat, meditation will be found to be more and more difficult.
Try vegetarianism and you will be surprised: meditation becomes far easier. Love becomes more subtle, loses its grossness — becomes more sensitive but less sensuous, becomes more prayerful and less sexual. And your body also starts taking on a different vibe. You become more graceful, softer, more feminine, less aggressive, more receptive. Vegetarianism is an alchemical change in you. It creates the space in which the baser metal can be transformed into gold.
Jainism is the first religion that has made vegetarianism a fundamental necessity for transforming consciousness. And they are right. Killing just to eat makes your consciousness heavy, insensitive; and you need a very sensitive consciousness — very light, very loving, very compassionate. It is difficult for a non-vegetarian to be compassionate; and without being compassionate and loving you will be hindering your own progress.