Congolese musician Elisabeth Muidikay, popularly known by her stage name Tshala Muana, has died, her companion and producer Claude Mashala confirmed on Saturday morning aged 64.
The Karibu Yangu hit singer gained immense popularity across the continent from the 1980s for her provocative Mutuashi dance that promoted the freedom of a woman’s body.
Who is Tshala Muana?
Élisabeth Tshala Muana Muidikay was born on 13 May 1958 in Lubumbashi. Considered the “Queen of Mutuashi”, a traditional dance music from her native Kasai region, she is often called “Mamu National”.
Muana started her artistic career as a dancer for the musical band Tsheke Tsheke Love in 1977 before turning to singing.
She is famous for several songs such as “Karibu Yangu”. She toured widely overseas, won several awards on the national, continental and global scene and recorded over 20 albums.
Her music has appeared in the soundtrack of the popular 1987 Congolese musical film La Vie est Belle and Aya of Yop City.
In 1964, when Muana Muidikay was 6 years old, her father was murdered in Watsha by the Ulelist maquis during the Congo crisis. She was raised by her mother, who died in 2005.
Having never married, her companion was her producer, Claude Mashala.
In June 2020 she was rumored to have died, but was instead hospitalized after having suffered a stroke.
In November 2020, Muana was arrested by the National Intelligence Agency (ANR), reportedly for her song “Ingratitude”, which was widely circulated over social media.
The lyrics center around a student who doesn’t pass his exams, and whose teacher nonetheless allows him to pass onto the next grade. Once passed, the student turns against his teacher.
The song was interpreted by many to be a veiled criticism of President Felix Tshisekedi, toward his former mentor and predecessor, President Joseph Kabila.
The singer was a public supporter of former President Joseph Kabila and his party, the People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD).