Soukous and Ndombolo
Soukus is also known as Lingala or Congo, and formerly as African rumba. It is a type of music originating in the two countries formerly called Belgian Congo and French Congo during the 30s and early 40s that was gaining popularity throughout Africa.
“Soukus” is a word derived from the French secouer and was originally the name of a popular dance in the late 1960s that was danced with an African version of the Cuban rumba. Although the genre was initially known as rumba, the term “soukous” is used more to refer to African rumba and its subsequent developments.
Soukous is called “Congo music” in West Africa, and “Lingala” in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, in reference to the Lingala language of the region where it originated. In the 1980s and early 1990s, a faster style of soukous called kwassa kwassa became popular. Today, a style called ndombolo is popular.
History has it that in the late 1930s and early 1940s, Congolese musicians fused Congolese music and other traditional African rhythms with Caribbean music, especially Afro-Cuban music and sounds from South America. They were rhythms not entirely different from those of the region because they were based to some extent on African musical traditions.
Antoine Kolosay, also known as Papa Wendo, was the first star of African rumba. He toured Europe and North America in the 1940s and 1950s with a group of seven musicians.
By the 1950s, big bands had become the preferred format. They used bass acoustic guitars, electric guitars, conga drums, maracas, flutes or clarinets, saxophones, trumpets and charrascas.
The fast soukous that dominates today in Central, Western and Eastern Africa is the so-called soukous ndombolo, played by Awilo Longomba, Aurlus Mabele, Koffi Olomide and groups such as Extra Music, Wenge Music, among others.
Some people consider the fast soukus dance as obscene. That’s why there were attempts to ban it in Mali, Cameroon and Kenya. In February 2005, videos of ndombolo were censored in the Republic of Congo for being “indecent”. Videos of Koffi Olomide, JB M`Piana and Werrason were taken off the air.
But attempts at censorship on radio and television in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2000 did the opposite: they made him even more popular.