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Soukous, The gift of Congo to the World

Updated: Sep 4, 2020

The popular Afro/Carribean Rhumba fusion music called Makossa in West Africa, Kwassa Kwassa in East and South Africa and Soukous in Central Africa including the Congo is a gift of the Congo River basin countries to the World. This Mineral resource Rich region of Africa contains two Congos, formerly under the Colony of Belgium. You have Leopodville now called Kinshasha (Zaire) and the other Congo with headquarters in Brazzaville. Soukous music is done in Lingala, the " sweetest language in the world" When you hear Papa Wemba, Kofi Olomide, Extra Musica, Awilo Longomba, JB M'piana, Fali Ipupa and others singing in their dialect you know you are hearing Lingala. What makes Soukous so special is not only the music but their outlandish costumes Origin of Soukous Like i said Soukous is a gift of Congo to the World it started gaining ground during the colonial era and in the 20's, West Africans from Sierra Lone, Ghana, Benin republic, they came to the Congo and these guys were good instrumentalist and they taught the indigenous Congolese these instruments. The Music started gaining ground, as in being popular from 1948. Congolese music has evolved from its origins to the fast pace Afro Caribbean Rhumba fusion music it is now with a good soloist chanting, a good guitar player leading and synchronized hip swinging dancing that accompanies it. in its initial stages it was a slow tempo music with harmonious singing, some percussion and good guitar playing. this was the way the music was in the 20,s, 30's, and 40's. In 1948 local Congolese musicians in Leopoldville or now Zaire started recording the music and sending abroad, but the music was done in the language of the Colonialist, i,e french and Spanish, this was termed the language of the Oppressors , they later started singing in Lingala and the music then gained worldwide acceptance. proving the magic of Lingala. You had musicians like Wendo Kolosoy and Henry Bowane they played a hit tune called "marie Louis"

Congolese Early Bands

Henry Bowane

Wendo Kolosoy This slow pace of Seben or Congolese Soukous persisted into the 60's with different artists the style of Soukous was being played all over Africa. The next phase of Soukous music into the fast paced music that captivates audiences can be Credited to the man called Pablo Phase II of Soukous Evolution Pablo arrived Paris in 1978 alongside a man called Sam Mangwane, they came to Paris via Lome Togo and they recorded under the name African allstars, Mangwana had pretty much recorded with everybody in Congo . He formed a group with some exiled Congolese musicians in Paris who were running from the tyranny of Mobutu Seseseko. The African allstars recorded a hit called " Suzana Coulibaly" The hit Souzana Coulibaly is built on repeating rhythms at a faster tempo than the usual Rhumba with a virtuoso guitar erruption. This record provided the new direction that Soukous would take, this direction was followed by Pablo Pamelo, Kanda Bongoman, these guys started an independent movement that would take Soukous to the international limelight

African allstars " souzana Coulibaly" Sam Mangwana

Kanda Bongoman

This new fast paced Soukous was initially shunned by the Soukous singers in Africa. More established stars did not quickly key into it.

Many youth bands called Yeye Youth started stealing the spotlight from the established stars like Franco and Tabu Ley. by adding exciting rhythms and dance to the music they pushed the tempo of the Rhumba and stretched the "Seben" which was the Congolese version of the Soukous.


Tabuley Kinshasha based groups adopted this fast paced music of the YeYe youth, infused soul and Funk dance steps and synchronized it into an African fashion. Present day Soukous The third phase of the Soukous evolution which has led to the present day Soukous as we know it world over was started by the group called Zaiko, They played a hit called "cavacha" , they also played other hits like "Mbeya Mbeya" and "Muvaro" They introduced an animated hype man singer called Atalaku or an animator and the Zaiko brand of Soukous started taking over the Parisian scene and hence the world

Zaiko Langa Langa Zaiko introduced the third wave of Soukous exponents that produced the likes of Papa Wemba, many of the members of Zaiko splintered and each went to form their own groups. The splitting continued and like i said it produced Papa Wemba, The GODFATHER of Soukous. Papa Wemba had a leg in Kinshasha and one in Paris. Papa Wemba later formed Viva la Musica and this group which included Kofi Olomide and other Superstars has had the most impact on Soukous as we know it. In the 80's many more Congolese musicians fled the Congo as the economic situation worsened, they went to Europe; athere they and other central African artist made Soukous what it is today. We could continue this Soukous exposition for ever but we will stop here . We will just share small tit bits of the Soukous giants who took inspiration from the GODFATHER, Papa Wemba, i hate to speak of him as late, but unfortunately that's the way it is. Papa Wemba The Godfather himself, was born Jules Shungu Wembadio Kikumba. 14th July 1949 he played Congolese Rhumba Soukous and Ndombolo. He was a musician, entertainer he popularized the SAPE look, which is a way of excellent dressing and grooming with a dapper appearance for Soukous Exponents. He had so many hits and was the founder of Viva La Musica.

The Godfather Papa Wemba Kofi Olomide Kofi olomide, born Antoine Christophe Agbepa Mumba is a protege of papa Wemba, an educated Business Economist. born 13/07/56. he is a superfluous, outlandish, stylish Congolese Soukous Exponent. he is the founder of the group latin Quartier. he is a global celebrity and he has so many hits among which is Loi

Kofi Olomide Aulus Mabele Aulus Mabele, born 26/10/53 was known as the king of Soukous, real name Aurilien Miatsomana, he was from the Brazzaville end of the Congo he created the band " Les Ndimbola Lakole" with some friends and was a hit maker, he unfortunately succumbed to the devastating Corona Virus in Paris march 2020.

Aulus Mabele JB M'piana This is one of the most stylish of the Soukous exponents based in Paris France. He has a very modern look, born Jean Bedel M'piana Tshitude 02/06/67 You hardly get to read anything about him in English. Very proud of his french heritage.

JB M'piana Werrason Born Noel Ngiama Makanda 25/12/65 he is a Soukous exponent known as the founder of Wenge maison musical band, he was once a member of latin Quartier, Kofi Olomide's band

and he is a big star in his native Congo and France

Werrason Awilo Longomba Awilo is a Congolese musician, he was a former drummer for Kofi Olomide's Latin Quatier , he also drummed for Stukas, and Nouvelle generation, before he quit and decided to go solo in 1995. Awilo rocked the whole universe with his songs Coupe Bibamba, and Gate le Coin, among others. He is much sought after and is a winner of numerous awards

Awilo Longomba

Extra Musica

Another Soukous Congolese group led by Roga Roga and Ramatoulaye they are based in France , they are very good Soukous dancers and have scored many bits and sold many records

Extra Musica

Fally Ipupa

Fallly Ipupa Nsimba is another protege of Kofi Olomide, a former member of Latin Quartier, he is a guitarist , singer, model and philantrophist

Fally Ipupa

This post would have been close to impossible to pen down were it not for the wonderful references i got from Wikipedia and Redbull music We would also like to show appreciation to the many photo media whose images we have used.

Click the link below to listen to songs of the Artists featured on the Blog

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