Flamboyant Congolese singer Ferre Gola is scheduled for a grand concert at Nairobi’s Kenyatta International Convention Centre on Friday.
The 41-year-old artiste with a penchant for nicknames – he now prefers to be called Papa na Melina – will later, on April 16, be at the Mamba Village in Mombasa courtesy of Melamoney Ltd.
The event comes a few months after the artiste, who courts admiration and controversy in equal measure, staged an electrifying show attended by hundreds of fans at Nairobi’s Villa Rosa Kempinski in December last year.
The normal advance ticket for the show is going for Sh3,000 and Sh3,500 at the gate.
A VIP ticket costs Sh5,000 for the event expected to be well attended given Ferre’s knack for owning the stage with his exhilarating performance and powerful vocals.
This will be the musician’s sixth visit to Kenya.
His first was way back in 2002 as a member of Werrason’s Wenge Maison Mere.
Ferre is expected to jet into the country tonight aboard Kenya Airways from Paris, France, alongside his 17-member band dubbed Jet Seven amidst tight security. Among them will be lead singer Chikito.
Described as one of the most celebrated Congolese stars in Africa, he won in the African Artist of The Year category in an awards ceremony held last month in Cameroon.
Ferre promises his local fans the best of entertainment in the forthcoming shows.
Prior to his recent visits, it has taken Ferre eight years to return to Kenya for a show, sparking suggestions that something could have gone wrong during the time.
Without delving into details, Ferre, who has been singing for close to 20 years, says: “Despite the fact that some years back Congolese musicians flocked to the country for performances, that has since changed because we are invited to other countries by lovers of our music, even though Kenyans have kept Lingala music in their hearts, thus their demands that I come back with my best.”
He also adds that over the decades Kenya, Nairobi has particularly witnessed an influx of renowned Congolese artists staging shows in various popular entertainment joints shortly before they experienced turbulence courtesy of con promoters that saw a number of them quit the local scene.
Ferre does not hide his love for Kenya, which he refers to as his dream country besides being the pride of Africa.
“Generally, the beautiful sights, sounds, women and food make it a must visit,” he says, adding that the country, which remains one of his favourite destinations in Africa, has the best athletes in the world including some of the cleverest and talented personalities who have made history in the world among them President Barrack Obama and Lupita Nyong’o, just to name a few.
But despite his affection and adoration for Kenya, which he refers to as close to his heart, Ferre admits having little knowledge of the country.
“Truth is, I have poor knowledge of the country and this makes me feel guilty at times. Nevertheless, I hope to learn more in terms of the country’s history with time,” says the musician with close-to-ten stage names.
So what does he think of Kenyans? Ferre describes Kenyans as a naturally friendly and welcoming people.
“They top the list of Lingala lovers in Africa and have an undying love for Lingala music regardless of the language barrier. This has always made me feel at home, besides cementing my relations with local fans and friends, including my brothers and sisters from the lakeside with whom we share a lot – making them part of my big family,” he reveals, adding that for this reason he has never turned down any invitation.
The musician who bears ambition as his middle name points out some of his well-received hits across the world include ‘Vita Imana’, ‘Boite Noire’, ‘Pakadjuma’, ‘Likata Mere Chef’, and ‘Seben’; recorded between 2009 and 2015.
“Songs like ‘Vita Imana’ and ‘Boite Noire’ just to name a few have remained etched in the minds of local fans,” he adds.
His biggest musical career moments?
The man who is always on the move staging shows in different parts of the world and has hardly time for his family cites his biggest musical career moments as watching local fans and friends whom he refers to as his ‘large family’ sing and dance along to his music- whenever he is on stage. It is something that motivates him.
“This is a clear indication that I have a taste of music for Kenyan fans. Kenyans are too selective when it comes to good music and you can only win their confidence by proving you are the best. And that is why I remain the best. Because of this I will not hesitate to continue staging shows in Kenya upon invitation,” he says.
“Let’s just say that as much as I consider it my dream home, I am already settled in Paris, and Kinshasa and I am comfortable there. However, this does not mean that I cannot settle in Kenya too if I want because it is the home of my great fans,” he concludes.
All said and done, there is no denying that sensational Ferre has found a soft spot in the hearts of many Kenyans, courtesy of his tactical moves, flamboyance and excellent songs. His efforts saw him placed among the prominent Congolese musicians rewarded by DR Congo President Joseph Kabila for their achievements and contributions to the development of Lingala music.
The other recipients included Koffi Olomide, former TPOK Jazz greats Josky Kiambukuta and Lutumba Simaro Masiya, Dizzy Mandjeku, Nyboma Mwandido, Papa Noel, Lita Bembo, Pepe Manuaku, Kiamuangana Mateta Verkys and Reddy Amisi.
Others included Mbilia Bel, Tshala Muana, Bombenga Jeannot, Ngiama Makanda and JB Mpiana.