Rocafiljazz band was a music group founded by Prince Nico-Mbarga in the mid 60’s, the group had their first success with their second single, I no go marry my papa, which was recorded in 1973 by EMI records and became a regional hit, their second success was in 1976 when they recorded sweet mother with Rogers all-stars and sold about thirteen million copies worldwide.
Mbarga and his Rocafiljazz played an important role in the evolution of African popular hi-life music, with his soulful vocals set to the light melodies of his electric guitar, Mbarga created a distinctive fusion of Igbo and Congolese guitar play and uplifting highlife rhythms.
In 1979 Mbarga and his Rocafil jazz band went on a tour in London, playing at venues like St. Pancras Town Hall and the African Centre, the members of RocafilJazz complained that they were underpaid, as a result, the mood soured.
While they were planning a trip to Japan, unable to agree on their percentages, Rocafiljazz disbanded. Though they later re-formed and changed members, but the band could not gather the same momentum.
However, after a ten-year break, (1986-1995) the original band was back together for a 50-state tour of the U.S, while preparing for the tour, Mbarga was on his way to pick up visas in Calabar, his car ran out of fuel, due to the fuel scarcity that was prevalent at that period, so he hopped on an okada (motorbike taxi) to complete his journey, few minutes on the bike, he was thrown off by a car.
In the hospital for two weeks, Mbarga gave up after series of medical surgeries. But before he gave up, he wished that Rocafiljazz continued the work he had prepared them to do all over the world, even if he could not make it out of the hospital bed.
Since 1997 when Mbarga died, it took up a whole period of twenty years and yet no one could step up to take over his Microphone and guitar to fulfil his wish, it is on that note that one of his sons, (Nico Mbarga jnr.) stepped up to the task of wearing his late father’s shoes to fulfil his wish as part of the agenda of the 20th anniversary of Prince Nico Mbarga.
It took Nico Mbarga jnr. such a long time because he had to finish his university studies then undergo thorough music training and study of his father’s Panco music style for over a decade, no wonder till date, no known guitarist can confidently replicate the scales and chord signatures of Prince Nico Mbarga’s guitar lines apart from Nico Mbarga jnr. who is continually still working on his father’s ninety-nine (99) recorded songs.
To rebirth the lost Rocafiljazz after decades of its demise
To fulfil the last wish of Prince Nico Mbarga, of propagating messages of love and peaceful coexistence in society all over the world, as contained in the philosophy of his music.
- To be a major facilitating instrument of Nico Mbarga Sweet Mother Foundation
- To rebirth Rocafiljazz and Prince Nico Mbarga’s music message
- To re-record the almost forgotten songs of Rocafiljazz
- To kick-off a campaign for positive music message
- To consolidate on Mbarga’s legacy
Rocafiljazz rebirth is directed by Nico Mbarga jnr. who is also the executive director of NMSMF. The band is constituted of the following crew men: two lead singers & two backups, two guitarists, one bassist, one pianist, one drummer, & three percussionists. Total of twelve members