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Kanda Bongo Man

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Kanda Bongo Man
Birth nameBongo Kanda
Born (1955-01-01) 1 January 1955 (age 69)
Inongo, Belgian Congo now Democratic Republic of Congo
GenresSoukous, kwassa kwassa music
Occupation(s)Singer, musician
Instrument(s)Vocals, guitar
Years active1980–present
LabelsBongo Man

Kanda Bongo Man (born Bongo Kanda;[1] 1955) is a Congolese soukous musician born in Inongo, Democratic Republic of the Congo.[2][3] He became the singer for Orchestra Belle Mambo in 1973,[3] developing a sound influenced by Tabu Ley.[4] His solo career only started to take off after he moved in 1979 to Paris, where his music started to incorporate elements of then-vibrant zouk music popularized by Kassav (originating in the French West Indies).[3] His first solo albums, Iyole in 1981 and Djessy in 1982, were hits.[3]

He is known for the structural changes he implemented to soukous music. The previous approach was to sing several verses and have one guitar solo at the end of the song. Kanda Bongo Man revolutionized soukous by encouraging guitar solos after every verse and even sometimes at the beginning of the song. His form of soukous gave birth to the kwassa kwassa dance rhythm where the hips move back and forth while the hands move to follow the hips.

Like many African rumba and soukous musicians before him, Kanda Bongo Man also had an entourage of musicians. Many of Kanda's musicians later moved on to start their own solo careers. Most notable of these was Diblo Dibala. Known as "Machine Gun", Diblo Dibala was a vital part of Kanda Bongo Man's lineup on several albums, playing guitar on both Kwasa Kwasa[5] and Amour Fou.[6]

Kanda Bongo Man still tours in Europe and the United States. In July 2005 he performed at the LIVE 8: Africa Calling concert in Cornwall. He has performed several times at the Africa Oyé Festival in Liverpool, most recently in June 2022.[7]


  • Iyole (1981)
  • Djessy (1982)
  • Amour Fou (1984)
  • Malinga (1985)
  • Lela Lela (1986)
  • Sai Liza (1987)
  • Kwassa Kwassa (1989)
  • Isambe Monie (1990)
  • Zing Zong (1991)
  • Sango (1992)
  • Le Rendez-vous des Stades (1993)
  • Soukous in Central Park (1993)
  • Welcome to South Africa (1995)
  • Francophonix (1999)
  • Balobi (2002)
  • Swalati (2003)
  • Non-Stop Feeling (2010)
  • Sweet (2010)
  • Yolele! Live in Concert (2021)
  • Kekete Bue (2022)


  1. ^ "Kanda interview with The AfroNew". Archived from the original on 2016-02-03.
  2. ^ "African Music Encyclopedia: Kanda Bongo Man". Africanmusic.org. Archived from the original on May 31, 2008. Retrieved 17 October 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. p. 162. ISBN 1-85227-745-9.
  4. ^ Chris Stapleton's sleevenotes to Heartbeat Soukous
  5. ^ "Kwassa Kwassa - Kanda Bongo Man | Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 17 October 2019.
  6. ^ "Amour Fou - Kanda Bongo Man | Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 17 October 2019.
  7. ^ "Lineup Africa Oyé 2022". Retrieved 21 June 2022.


  • The African Music Encyclopedia: Music From Africa and the African Diaspora