That's what ZAIKO means. Taken from their official website:
" The name Zaiko...is an abreviation of Lingala expression signifying,' Zaire (Zai) ya Bankoko (Ko) ' = Zaire of our ancestors."
When I think of Zaiko Langa Langa I would say they definitely represent and remind me of the Zaire of my most immediate ancestors, namely my mother. In 1971, the year after Ochestra Zaiko formed, the Congo was christened Zaire, for the great river and as if almost on cue L'Orchestre Zaiko came and took the Congolese music scene by storm. Thus creating the soundscape for the Zaire of my ancestors closest to me (in time).
*My father says people don't like to even see the name Zaire because of what was happening politically during that period between 1971 and 1997 when that was the country's name. Pardon me if this brought you any bad feeling. I was just expressing
what I felt when I found out what Zaiko meant.*
It must be said that Zaiko Langa Langa transformed Congolese music and aided in giving it a more distinct sound from rumba. First step in moving in that direction was leaving out rumba's stapled horn section. The solo guitar and sped up snares and drums were the stars of the show and once the beat would break they forced the listener to move. Meanhile the strong harmonies carried lyrics of love and life that moved the listener inside. Their live show was nothing to scoff at either. They brought great energy to the stage popularizing the "ANIMATIOR" in ya miziki ya Congo. The animator would shout call and response sets and dance moves bringing the crowd into a frenzy. The singers themselves would get down too!
Check them out in this 1975 performance on National Zaire TV performing LISAPO. Pepe Felly is there but in the shadows letting the guitar skills steal the show. The singers at this time were (from left to right): Mbuta Mashakado, Bimi Ombale, Nyoka Longo & Likinga
(photo courtesy of guy angrand)