Do Collabos To Promote African Music — Kanda Bongo Man

Celebrated Congolese musician, Kanda Bongo Man, has entreated African musicians to collaborate on projects to promote music from the continent.

Speaking with Showbiz on the sidelines of the African Legends Night which came off at the Banquet Hall, State House, Accra last Saturday, the Kwassa Kwassa man said his alliances with other African artistes have enriched his craft over the years.

“Africans are a unique people with diverse cultures and music can be one of the ways to exchange ideas. My work with artistes in South Africa, Benin and other African countries has improved my knowledge of the African culture,” he said.

He’s known for the structural changes he implemented to Congolese soukous music and though he’s been championing it for over three decades, Kanda Bongo Man, who is looking forward to working with Ghanaian artistes says he supports foreign influence in African music.

He indicated that the trend should rather be encouraged to attract younger generations.

He also noted that since each generation’s taste for music differs, the onus is on proponents of traditional music to find ways of fusing it with the African style to attract younger musicians.

That, he told Showbiz has been his “weapon” for getting young people to appreciate his music over the years.

“I have been doing music for over 30 years but I still get people to appreciate it because I adapt to new trends. When I started soukous music in my country, there were other forms of music but at the time, that was what the people wanted.

“Today, other music forms are also in vogue so to stay competitive and relevant, you must fuse the modern and old  to make your music appealing,” he said.

During his performance last Saturday, the Iyole singer, who was the headline act, charged the audience with his energetic performance.

A well-known dancer, he showed off his waist-wriggling moves but age did not allow him to gyrate like in the past and so it wasn’t surprising when the 63-year old told Showbiz he will be retiring from active music.

“I have trained a lot of protégés to hold the fort when I can’t be active anymore. Besides, I think I have paid my dues and served my country, continent and the world,” he said.

Kanda Bongo Man was born in Inongo, Democratic Republic of the Congo. He became the singer for Orchestra Belle Mambo in 1973, developing a sound influenced by Tabu Ley.

His solo career took off after moving to Paris in 1979, where his music started to incorporate elements of then-vibrant zouk music popularised by Kassav.

His first solo albums, Iyole in 1981 and Djessy in 1982, were hits.

Some of the countless works which have made him popular are Iyole (1981), Djessy (1982), Amour Fou (1984), Malinga (1986), Lela Lela (1987), Sai Liza (1988), Kwassa Kwassa (1989) and Isambe Monie (1990).

The others are Zing Zong (1991), Sango (1992), Soukous in Central Park (1993), Sweet (2010), Welcome to South Africa (1995), Francophonix (1999), Balobi (2002), Swalati (2003) and Non-Stop Feeling (2010).