The pioneers of congolese rumba

 Bakolo Music International, the “Music Masters” is the oldest group of roots Congolese Rumba in Kinshasa. In 1948, in Leopoldville singer Antoine “Wendo” Kolosoyi formed a group he called Victoria Kin. They recorded numerous 78 r.p.m. discs for the famous Ngoma Label Records, one of the first studio in Kinshasa. The group became later “Victoria Bakolo Miziki” and then “Bakolo Miziki International” under President Mobotu. In 1999, they came back on stage with Wendo Kolosoy re-discovered by Christian Mousset, and did several world tour until the death of Wendo in 2008. His group remained faithfull to his memory and continues to compose new songs. In 2016, they recorded a single “Ngange” (sorcerer) and they plan to realise a full album in 2017. Two films about their lives were produced in 1993 (Tango Ya Ba Wendo, Mirko Popovitch & Kwami Mambu ZINGA) and 2007 (On the Rumba River – Wendo, Jacques Sarasin) and a third film is going to be produced in 2019 as the third chapter of the trilogy.

Papa Bikunda, 79 years old, 65 of career, 56 of marriage and a dream: “making one more international tour around the world”.

©Tom Van Torre


With his collection of hats and fashionable sunglasses, Papa Bikunda is the last composer and guitar player of his generation of congolese rumba “bakolo” meaning “pionner or veteran”. He started at the age of 14 by playing maracas in the mythic studios Luningisa and Ngoma for famous rumba stars such as Devoillon, Paul Webengo and Franco. He was the one who accompagnied Wendo Kolosoy when playing his biggest success “Marie-Louise” which was reputated to bring back the deads. He accompagnied him in his worldwides tours around the world… and is determinated to continue until the end to spread his new compositions around the world.

May Plau. At 80 years old, May Plau, the band saxophonist, is an alive proof that “love is for people from 7 to 80 years old… and more”

©Tom Van Torre

After having survived the progroms in Brazzaville last year, refugee camps in Kinshasa streets, poisoning, various fetichism and jalousy – probably due to his tremendous talent and irresistible success with ladies of all ages -, May Plau is an eternal lover… and clubber. If you want to meet him you’d better go – not earlier than 5 a.m – to “La crèche”, the famous rumba nightclub based on the rooftop of a sleazy motel of the busy “Victoire” quarter of Kinshasa.

Willy “Talent”, is the worthy successor of Wendo Kolosoy, the grandfather and founder of congolese rumba,

©Tom Van Torre

he accompagnied until his death in 2008 in all his international tours around the world (17 states of United America, 13 states of Europe and African tours). He sings since he was on his father shoulders, an army officer who was playing “Likembe”, a traditional congolese piano originated by pygmees tribes.

Michel Missy, the guitar master

©Tom Van Torre

was born 2 August 1949 in Kinshasa. He starts playing guitar at 13 years old with his “DIY” (Do it yourself) guitar “ I made my first guitar myself. I used a metal peanuts oil can “Huile d’or” for the guitar body, some pieces of wood, Corned Beef key openers as guitar gears and fishing wire as strings, it sounded quite well!”. He plays with Leon Bukasa, the Bantous de la Capitale and Bela Bela Orchestra. In 1996, papa Bikunda called him to join Wendo Kolosoy and the Bakolo Music International he accompagnied in their world tours. He continues to compose new guitar leads tirelessly.

Isabelle Masamboda Anoda, was called with affection “ripe mango” by Wendo Kolosoy.

©Tom Van Torre

At 60, she is the oldest and last real traditional congolese rumba dancer. She likes to say that “when you dance congolese rumba, you need to sculpt pleasure with your body”, an art she excells at.


RFI – Africolor, la rumba toute puissante avec Bakolo Music International

Bakolo, la classe internationale Bakolo Music International au festival Africolor 2019. Au même moment, au premier étage du bâtiment, dans les loges, un gang de papys indisciplinés apporte la touche finale à leurs costumes. L’un remet en place son borsalino, l’autre ajuste sa cravate, un autre encore se parfume, le dernier brique ses chaussures rutilantes……