Probate is the legal process of settling the estate of a deceased person's claims and distributing his property. It originates from the Latin word probatus, meaning "to try, test, or prove one to be worthy" of any of the decedent's assets. When Franco died in 1989, he left behind a whole trainload of musicians who were lifetime members of OK Jazz. Hence, the burden was on them to prove whether they were equal partners or simply Franco's employees.

At best, one can presume that a legal partnership existed between OK Jazz and Franco. Consequently, they might have been entitled to 50% of the profits; while 50% plus 100% of the interest in the band equipment outright belonged to Franco's heirs. In essence, probate prohibited unlimited band gear usage by OK Jazz members, without renting from Franco's family. Such reality reduced the band members' entitlement even further to at least 40%.

In a worst scenario, Franco owned 100% interest in OK Jazz and compensated band members for their services, like typical employees. In such instance, OK Jazz' interest was 0%. Thus, it had no place in Franco's probate issues. Yet a core of musicians led by Rondot Kasongo formed Bana OK and recorded their first album Bakitani in 1993; with Franco's band equipment. Franco's family viewed this gesture as an illegal disinheritance of Franco's heirs.

As fate would have it, some of these events coincided with Madilu's solo project to finance treatment for his diabetes. Then Simaro Lutumba took over the leadership of OK Jazz and Madilu was forced out after a suspension. Further, Franco's heirs demanded their equipment back and upped their claim for their share of the revenues from 30% to 60%. Simaro refused and went on to validate Kasongo's Bana OK. This spelled the end of OK Jazz after 36 years.

Then the blame game began. Franco's heirs claimed that Simaro bilked them by paying them 30% instead of at least 50%. Simaro claimed that Madilu caused trouble by releasing his solo album outside OK Jazz. Madilu claims the band should have been forgiving and stayed together instead of creating Bana OK. But nobody wants to confront the real legal question of meddling in Franco's probate matters without resolving the crisis with Franco's heirs first.


With hindsight, Simaro's video talks about the birth of Bana OK. But he neither makes claims on OK Jazz nor accuses Madilu for its demise; since it wasn't his in the first place. Simaro also laments the sad passing of seven former OK Jazz members, but nobody from Franco's family attended their funerals. This goes to show that animosity between OK Jazz heirs (Bana OK) and Franco's heirs (Bana Franco) was more complicated than Madilu's solo venture.