Konono Nº1

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Konono Nº1
Konono Nº1 performing in May 2007
Background information
Origin Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Genres Trance, bazombo
Years active 1966–present
Labels Crammed Discs, Ache Records
Website Official Site
Members Augustin Makuntima Mawangu
Menga Waku
Makonda Mbuta
Pauline Mbuka Nsiala
Vincent Visi
Ndofusu Mbiyavanga
Past members Mingiedi Mawangu
Notable instruments
Electric likembé, Lance-voix

Konono Nº1 is a Grammy-winning musical group from Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. They combine three electric likembé (a traditional instrument similar to the mbira) with voices, dancers, and percussion instruments that are made out of items salvaged from a junkyard. The group's amplification equipment is equally rudimentary, including a microphone carved out of wood fitted with a magnet from an automobile alternator and a gigantic horn-shaped amplifier. The group achieved international renown beginning in 2005, with its DIY aesthetic appealing to many fans of rock and electronic music. They played this same year at the Eurockéennes festival in France.


The group's full name, as seen on the banner in its music video, is L'orchestre folklorique T.P. Konono Nº1 de Mingiedi; "T.P." (short for tout puissant, or "all powerful") is an homage to the band of the legendary Congolese musician Franco, which was called TP OK Jazz.


The group was formed in 1966 by Mingiedi Mawangu,[1] a likembé player and truck driver. Mawangu was a member of the Zombo (or Bazombo) ethnic group, whose homeland is located near the border with Angola. For his likembé ensemble, he adapted Zombo ritual music that was originally played by an ensemble of horns made from elephant tusks.[citation needed]

In November 1978, the ensemble called Orchestre Tout Puissant Likembe Konono Nº1 (All-Powerful Likembe Orchestra Konono Nº1) recorded one track, "Mungua-Muanga," for the compilation album Zaire: Musiques Urbaines a Kinshasa. The group has exerted an influence on many other Congolese popular musicians and groups.[2]

The first time Konono Nº1 played outside of Africa was in 2003, when they toured the Netherlands with Dutch band The Ex. Since then the group has achieved some renown in North America and Europe, and has toured both places. Since 2003 The Ex has regularly performed one of their songs live.[citation needed]

In 2006 the band won the Newcomer award from the BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music.[3]

The group collaborated with Björk on the song "Earth Intruders" from her studio album, Volta. They also accompanied her on her promotional tour for the album in 2007.[1]

Konono Nº1's album Live At Couleur Café was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2008.

Konono Nº1 collaborated on "Imagine" for the 2010 Herbie Hancock album, The Imagine Project along with Seal, P!nk, India.Arie, Jeff Beck, Oumou Sangare and others.[4] The song earned the Grammy Award for "Best Pop Collaboration".[1]

The group were chosen by Matt Groening to perform at the edition of the All Tomorrow's Parties festival he curated in May 2010 in Minehead, England.[5]

In May 2010, Crammed Discs released the fourth volume in its Congotronics series, Assume Crash Position, produced by Vincent Kenis.[citation needed]

In November 2010, Crammed Discs released Tradi-Mods Vs. Rockers: Alternative Takes on Congotronics, a multi-artist album containing interpretations, covers and tributes to the music of Kasai Allstars, Konono Nº1 and other Congotronics bands, recorded by 26 indie rock and electronic musicians, including a.o. Deerhoof, Animal Collective, Andrew Bird, Juana Molina, Shackleton, Megafaun, Aksak Maboul, Mark Ernestus and others.[6][7][8]

In 2011, Konono N°1 took part in the Congotronics vs Rockers project, a "superband" including ten Congolese and ten indie rock musicians (also including members of Deerhoof, Wildbirds & Peacedrums, Kasai Allstars, Skeletons and Juana Molina), who collaborated to create a common repertoire and performed at 15 major festivals and venues in ten countries.[9][10][11]

The group's founder Mingiedi Mawangu stopped touring with the band around 2009, and entrusted his duties as band leader and lead likembe player to his son Augustin Makuntima Mawangu, who is further developing the sound of Konono's electric thumb piano by using various effect pedals.[citation needed]

Mingiedi Mawangu died on April 15, 2015, aged 85.[1]



  • Lubuaku, Terp AS09 (2004)
  • Congotronics, Crammed Discs (2004)
  • Live At Couleur Café, Crammed Discs (2007)
  • Assume Crash Position, Crammed Discs (2010)


  • Zaire: Musiques Urbaines a Kinshasa, Ocora 559007 (recorded 1978, released 1987)[12]
  • Congotronics 2, Crammed Discs - contains one track by Konono Nº1
  • The Congotronics Vinyl Box Set Crammed Discs (2010) - limited-edition box set containing Konono Nº1's Congotronics and Assume Crash Position, also Congotronics 2, albums by Kasai Allstars and Staff Benda Bilili and a collaboration between Kasai Allstars and Akron/Family


  • Tradi-Mods vs Rockers (Alternative Takes on Congotronics), Crammed Discs (2010) - double CD containing cover versions, reworks and tributes to the music of Konono N°1 and Kasai Allstars by 26 alternative rock and electronic artists

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