Why Kanda Bongoman's band lineup is always changing


Music artist Kanda Bongo Man performs at Carnivore in Nairobi In 2008 [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Musicians are known for keeping their experienced band members for continuity in performances.

Some of the most successful bands have featured a consistent lineup. The best examples in Africa are Franco Luambo Luanzo Makiadi of TP OK Jazz Band, Tabu Ley Rochaureau of Africa International Orchestra and Pepe Kalle of Empire Bakuba, all of whom have since died.

Not the King of Kwasa Kwasa Kanda Bongoman.

He does not keep band members for long saying the trends and styles of music keep on changing and one has to change them (band members) to survive in the competitive market.

“Styles and trends of music keep on changing from one time to the other. These musicians are also acquainted with one style of music. Therefore, I keep on changing them for my survival in this competitive market,” Bongoman told Sunday Magazine from Manchester, United Kingdom.

He said the emergence of many young artistes has complicated matters for the old musicians.

And in his style of doing things that are contrary to many old prominent artistes, Bongoman does not embrace collaborations. He’s only done one in his life as a musician.

“I’m a big musician. Why should I have these collabos? I’m an accomplished songwriter who is used to my work and different trends of music globally. And that’s how I do my work,” boasted the musician who speaks fluent English and French.

He admitted having done only one collaboration with the Soul Brothers Band of South Africa that ended up in the composition and recording of the song ‘Swalati’.

“We recorded the song at Gallos Recording Studios in South Africa and I have given them full authority to sell and distribute all my music in Central and Southern Africa,” he said.

That was the second song of a beauty pageant recorded by Bongoman after ‘Wahito’, which was done in Kenya in 1991.

The artiste said he is not ready for another collaboration anytime soon.

Asked why he always falls into the traps of beauty pageants that one time led to his dramatic deportation from Nairobi in 1991, Kanda Bongoman said: “Every sane man loves beautiful things and I’m no exception.”

Does he plan of performing in Kenya any time soon?

“My trip has somehow been delayed owing to several factors and technicalities. Once I overcome them, you’ll see me in Nairobi,” he said.

The musician was last in Kenya last year en route to London from Australia where he had had several live shows.

Kanda Bongoman trained as a professional musician in the Music of High Technology at the Ham Moss College in Manchester in 2001.

Born in Inongo in 1965 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 59-year-old musician has produced 20 albums in his musical career.

Does he have a favourite album?

“I take my time to work on my copies and that’s why all my albums are good in their different styles,” he said.

However, he said demands from his fans show that ‘Monie’ and ‘Malinga JT’ are the most popular.

“Whenever I’m on stage, they (fans) demand that I must play the two songs. And that makes my life complete,” he said.



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