On 7 June 2010, Afrozoukeur Oliver N’Goma died of kidney failure in Libreville, Gabon. Eleven years after his death, what can we remember of him, what musical legacy did he leave behind?… we went to meet the singer’s son, Lionel N’Goma
Divided between sadness and nostalgia, eleven years after the death of Oliver N’Goma, his son Lionel has only beautiful memories of the Afrozoukeur crooner. This June 7, the youngest of the N’Goma siblings shares his memories and confidences of one of the founders of Afrozouk. Interview.
AFRIK.COM: This June 7, Africa will remember one of the creators of Afro zouk, as the son of Oliver N’Goma, what does this memorable day tell you?
N’Goma Lionel: It is an honour for our family on the 11th anniversary of our father’s death. We are honoured to know that the continent is giving our father a special place, thanks to his compositions. Personally, I am still sad, 11 years after the death of Oliver N’Goma. I still remember our family moments, between father and son.
What memories do you still have of him?
My father Oliver N’Goma was a humble man, very professional and respectful. He produced his work with rigour and passion. Today, I feel very proud of the person he was when he was alive and a little sad about his absence. He was not in showbiz. Oliver N’Goma was a man of moral values, a reference in his community. He was a resilient man who accepted his fellow man with all his qualities and faults. I remember that my father did not only love music, he was also an avid basketball player.
During his lifetime, Oliver N’Goma sang about love, peace and living together… 11 years after his death, can we say that Africa has capitalised on his musical heritage?
On the continental level, the impact of his message is rather mixed because he sang in Lumbu (the language spoken in Gabon). As a result, it is not easy to understand his struggle through music. However, I note that his music remains present on the continent. This can be explained by the sense of creativity and imagination that characterises his work. 11 years after his departure, several of his hits, including Bané, Adia, Alphonsiné, Ngé, Icole… are played at festive parties in several African countries, Europe and even America. 11 years after his death, I am proud to see that his music crosses generations. Many musicians from Africa and the West Indies are inspired by his music. It is a source of pride for the family.
Is there an artist who reminds you of your father or who seems to be taking over?
His son, NO J, whose real name is Brice Olivier Jr N’Goma, whose manager I am, has just taken over. I am confident that he will do great things to ensure the succession of my father.
What message did your father convey through his songs?
In his songs, my father conveyed many messages. For example, in the song « Adia », it was a message of love that was at the heart of this hit. While the song « Bane » was a bit about education.
Do you have a message or an appeal to make?
Just to tell his fans to be patient, soon they will have the opportunity to relive my father’s art which is not finished and which will continue through his son NO J.
On a national level, how do you celebrate Oliver N’Goma in Gabon, several years after his death?
It’s quite complex. I know that there are programmes dedicated to paying tribute to him on local channels. But in terms of official events, I have never seen any that I know of.