African Rumba


One of the most influential genres of African music and dance, Congolese rumba, now has Unesco-protected status. And joins other living traditions such as Jamaican reggae music , and Cuban Rumba .Congolese musicians had a huge impact on the African musical scene and outside since the 1930s.Many genre of music were created or heavily influenced by Congolese music.As the genre of music in Kenya Benga or in Colombia Champeta, or AfroBeats. Congolese rumba, The word "rumba" itself comes from "Nkumba" in Kikongo, the main language of the kingdom of Kongo and means Navel.A lot of afro cubans are Bakongo from the Kingdom of Kongo in Central Africa, as the musician Arsenio Rodriguez .Afro Cubans used instruments like Conga Drums , Yambu , Yuka , and spiritual rituals as Palo Congo/ Mayombe.The retention of traditional Bakongo music in afro Cuban Rumba , impacted and influenced Congolese musicians back in the 1930s. Also known as Rumba Lingala after its predominant language, is a popular genre of dance music which originated in the
Congo basin The Congo Basin (french: Bassin du Congo) is the sedimentary basin Sedimentary basins are regions of the Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbor life. About 29% of Earth's surface ...
during the 1940s, deriving from Cuban son. The style gained popularity throughout Africa during the 1960s and 1970s. It is known as Lingala in
Kenya ) , national_anthem = "Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu "Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu" (, ) is the national anthem of Kenya. History "Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu"'s lyrics were originally written in Swahili language, Kiswahili, the national language of Kenya ...

Uganda Uganda (Languages of Uganda, Ugandan Languages: Yuganda), officially the Republic of Uganda ( sw, Jamhuri ya Uganda), is a landlocked country in East Africa. It is bordered to the east by Kenya, to the north by South Sudan, to the west by the ...

Tanzania Tanzania (;This approximates the Kiswahili pronunciation. However, is also heard in English. ), officially the United Republic of Tanzania ( sw, Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania), is a country in East Africa within the African Great Lakes regi ...

after the
Lingala language Lingala (Ngala) (Lingala: ''lingála'') is a Bantu language The Bantu languages (English: , Proto-Bantu: *bantʊ̀) are a large family of languages spoken by the Bantu peoples throughout sub-Saharan Africa Sub-Saharan Africa is, geog ...
of the lyrics of the majority of the songs. In
Zambia Zambia (), officially the Republic of Zambia (Bemba language, Bemba:'' Icalo ca Zambia''; Tonga language (Zambia and Zimbabwe), Tonga: ''Cisi ca Zambia''; Lozi language, Lozi: ''Naha ya Zambia''; Chewa language, Nyanja: ''Dziko la Zambia''), ...

Zimbabwe Zimbabwe (), officially the Republic of Zimbabwe, is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an individ ...

, where Congolese music is also influential, it is still usually referred to as rumba. It is also an individual dance. In December 2021, Congolese rumba was added to the
UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'éducation, la science et la culture) is a List of specialized agencies of the United Nations, specialised agency of th ...

list of intangible cultural heritage.


In the 1930s and 1940s, Afro-Cuban son groups such as
Septeto Habanero A septet is a formation containing exactly seven members. It is commonly associated with musical groups but can be applied to any situation where seven similar or related objects are considered a single unit, such as a seven-line stanza of poetry. I ...
, Trio Matamoros and Los Guaracheros de Oriente were played over Radio Congo Belge in Léopoldville (Kinshasa), gaining widespread popularity in the country during the following decades. Once local bands tried to emulate the sound of Cuban son (incorrectly referred to as "rumba" in Africa, despite being unrelated to Cuban rumba), their music became known as "soukous", a derivative of the French word "secouer" (literally, "to shake").Soukous dance king rules Kinshasa (BBC)
By the late 1960s, soukous was an established genre in most of Central Africa, and it would also impact the music of West Africa, West and East Africa. To Africans, Cuban popular music sounded familiar and Congolese bands started doing Cuban covers, singing the Spanish lyrics phonetically. Eventually they created original compositions with lyrics in French or Lingala, a "lingua franca" of the western Congo region. The Cuban horn ''guajeos'' were adapted to guitars. The Congolese called this new music "rumba", though it was more based on "son". Antoine Kolosoy, also known as Papa Wendo, became the first star of African rumba, touring Europe and North America in the 1940s and 1950s with his regular band, Victoria Bakolo Miziki or Victoria Kin. Antoine Kolosoy was inspired by Paul Kamba's band "Victoria Brazza". Before Paul Kamba a Martinique, Martinican man named Jean Réal also created a band "Congo Rumba" in Brazzaville. By the 1950s, big bands had become the preferred format, using acoustic bass guitar, multiple electric guitars, conga drums, maracas, Scraper (instrument), scraper, flute or clarinet, saxophones, and trumpet. Grand Kalle et l'African Jazz (also known as African Jazz) led by Joseph Kabasele Tshamala (Grand Kalle), and OK Jazz, later renamed TPOK Jazz (''Tout Puissant Orchestre Kinshasa'', meaning "all-powerful Kinshasa band") led by François Luambo Makiadi, Franco became the leading bands. One of the musical innovations of Franco's band was the ''mi-solo'' (meaning "half solo") guitarist, playing arpeggio patterns and filling a role between the lead and rhythm guitars.


In the 1950s and 1960s, some artists who had performed in the bands of Franco Luambo and Grand Kalle formed their own groups. Tabu Ley Rochereau and Dr. Nico Kasanda formed African Fiesta and transformed their music further by fusing Congolese folk music with soul music, as well as Caribbean and Latin American music, Latin beats and Musical instrument, instrumentation. They were joined by Papa Wemba and Sam Mangwana, and classics like ''Afrika Mokili Mobimba'' made them one of Africa's most prominent bands. Congolese "rumba" eventually evolved into soukous. Tabu Ley Rochereau and Dr Nico Kasanda are considered the pioneers of modern soukous. Other greats of this period include Koffi Olomide, Tshala Muana and Wenge Musica. While the rumba influenced bands such as Lipua-Lipua, Veve (musicians), Veve, TP OK Jazz and Orchestre Bella Bella, Bella Bella, younger Congolese musicians looked for ways to reduce that influence and play a faster paced soukous inspired by rock n roll. A group of students called Zaiko Langa Langa came together in 1969 around founding vocalist Papa Wemba. Pepe Kalle, a protégé of Grand Kalle, created the band Empire Bakuba together with Papy Tex and they too became popular.

East Africa in the 1970s

Soukous now spread across Africa and became an influence on virtually all the styles of modern Music of Africa, African popular music including highlife, palm-wine music, taarab and makossa. As political conditions in Zaire, as the Democratic Republic of Congo was known then, deteriorated in the 1970s, some groups made their way to
Tanzania Tanzania (;This approximates the Kiswahili pronunciation. However, is also heard in English. ), officially the United Republic of Tanzania ( sw, Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania), is a country in East Africa within the African Great Lakes regi ...

Kenya ) , national_anthem = "Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu "Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu" (, ) is the national anthem of Kenya. History "Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu"'s lyrics were originally written in Swahili language, Kiswahili, the national language of Kenya ...

. By the mid-seventies, several Congolese groups were playing soukous at Kenyan night clubs. The lively ''cavacha'', a dance craze that swept East and Central Africa during the seventies, was popularized through recordings of bands such as Zaiko Langa Langa and Orchestra Shama Shama, influencing Kenyan musicians. This rhythm, played on the snare drum or Hi-hat (instrument), hi-hat, quickly became a hallmark of the Congolese sound in Nairobi and is frequently used by many of the regional bands. Several of Nairobi's renowned Swahili rumba bands formed around Tanzanian groups like Simba Wanyika and their offshoots, Les Wanyika and Super Wanyika Stars. In the late 1970s Virgin records produced gramophone record, LPs from the Tanzanian-Congolese Orchestra Makassy and the Kenya-based Super Mazembe. One of the tracks from this album was the Swahili song ''Shauri Yako'' ("it's your problem"), which became a hit in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Les Mangelepa was another influential Congolese group that moved to Kenya and became extremely popular throughout East Africa. About this same time, the Nairobi-based Congolese vocalist Samba Mapangala and his band Orchestra Virunga, released the LP ''Malako'', which became one of the pioneering releases of the newly emerging world music scene in Europe. The musical style of the East Africa-based Congolese bands gradually incorporated new elements, including Kenyan benga music, and spawned what is sometimes called the "Swahili sound" or "Congolese sound".

21st Century

Congolese rumba was inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. UNESCO stated that

Musical examples

The following example is from the Congolese "rumba" "Passi ya boloko" by Franco (Luambo Makiadi) and O.K. Jazz (c. mid-1950s). The bass is playing a tresillo-based tumbao, typical of son montuno. The rhythm guitar plays all of the offbeats, the exact pattern of the rhythm guitar in Cuban son. According to the ''Garland Encyclopedia of World Music'', the lead guitar part "recalls the blue-tinged guitar solos heard in bluegrass and rockabilly music of the 1950s, with its characteristic insistence on the opposition of the major-third and minor-third degrees of the scale." Banning Eyre distills down the Congolese guitar style to this skeletal figure, where the guide-pattern clave (rhythm), clave is sounded by the bass notes (notated with downward stems). In a densely textured ''seben'' section of a soukous song (below), the three interlocking guitar parts are reminiscent of the contrapuntal structure of Cuban music, with its layered guajeos.Stone, Ruth. Ed. (1998: 365). Excerpt from a Choc Stars seben. Original transcription by Banning Eyre. ''The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music. v. 1 Africa''.

See also

*Music of the Democratic Republic of the Congo *List of African musicians#Democratic Republic of Congo, Musicians from the Democratic Republic of the Congo



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External links

The Sound of Sunshine: How soukous saved my lifeRare recording (1961) of rural finger style Soukous guitarist Pierre Gwa with home made guitarGuitOp81's Soukous Guitar site
{{Authority control Democratic Republic of the Congo music Dance music genres