Zaiko Langa Langa

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Zaiko Langa Langa
Also known as Zaïko Langa Langa
Origin DR Congo
Genres Soukous
Years active 1969 (1969)–present

Zaiko Langa Langa (also spelled Zaïko Langa Langa and in other variants)[1] are a seminal soukous band from DR Congo. The word "Zaiko" is a portmanteau for the lingala phrase Zaire ya bankoko, meaning "Zaire of our ancestors", where "Zaire" must be read as a reference to the river by that name, now called Congo. The meaning of the phrase "Langa Langa" is controversial; according to the band's website, it means "marvelous" or "almighty".[2]

Founded in the early 1969 by D.V. Moanda, Marcelin Delo, Henry Mongombe, Olemi Eshar-Eshar dem'belina and Andre Bita, Zaiko Langa Langa survived into the 2000s (decade), and have been largely popular through the decades. Because of their "rebel" and "hippie" attitude, and their innovative approach to soukous, they became a symbol of the new generations of post-independence Zaire,[3] and are sometimes compared to the Rolling Stones for their appeal on the Congolese youth.[4]

The band has experienced several personnel changes, and a number of prominent soukous musicians have been in their lineup; examples are Bozi Boziana, Dindo Yogo, Evoloko Jocker, N'Yoka Longo and Bimi Ombale.[5] Several soukous band formed as spin-offs of Zaiko Langa Langa; these include Isifi Lokole, Yoka Lokole, Viva La Musica, Langa Langa Stars, Zaiko Familia Dei, Basilique Loningisa, Choc Stars, Anti Choc, and Zaiko Nkolo Mboka. This large group of related bands is sometimes referred to as "Clan Langa Langa" (i.e., "the Langa Langa family").

In 2000, Zaiko Langa Langa were awarded by the Congolese Media Association as the best Congolese musical group of the 20th century.[6]


The band was formed in 1969 with the provisional name "Orchestra Zaiko". The original lineup was composed of Papa Wemba, Mavuela Somo, Evoloko Lay Lay, Teddy Sukami, Oncle Bapius, Zamuangana le meilleur and Manuaku Waku (also known as Pépé Fely) and N'Yoka Longo.[7] The band also had a pop section, which was playing before the soukous section, with Bimi Ombale, Mbuta Matima and Mashakado Mbuta. Moanda, Mongombe, Marcelin, Waku, Longo and Bita were all from a former band called Bel Guide National.[8] They were mostly students coming from upper-class families of Kinshasa.

The sound of Zaiko Langa Langa was revolutionary with respect to the soukous tradition. They adopted a more up tempo beat, abandoned wind instruments and emphasized snare drums and lead electric guitars (and eventually also synthesizers). The percussion rhythms were adapted from traditional Congolese music and the sebene became more prominent.[9] Their vocal lines made a large use of the call and response schemes. Their frenetic stage shows featured a frontline of four singers.

Because of these innovations, they are sometimes referred to as the founders of the "third school" of soukous,[7] while they "rebel" attitude, which resembled that of the hippie movement, earned them the sobriquet of "Zaire's Rolling Stones".[4]

Zaiko quickly became one of the most popular groups of Zaire, and had a large fan base among Kinshasa's juvenile. In the 1970s, Zaiko's singers Evoloko "Lay Lay" Joker, Papa Wemba, Gina Efonge, Mavuela Somo, Nyoka Longo and Bimi Ombale popularized a dance known as cavacha, also spelled "kavasha, that was a decade-lasting craze in most East Africa.

In 1974, Zaiko Langa Langa were amongst the Zairean bands to be invited to play in Zaire '74, a huge musical event celebrating the Rumble in the Jungle.[7]

In the mid 1970s the band lost some of its most important members. Papa Wemba, Bozi Boziana, Mavuela Somo and Evoloko left in 1974 to create Isifi Lokole; the same year, Papa Wemba, Bozi Boziana and Mavuela abandoned Evoloko after a conflict of leadership in the groupe between Evoloko and Papa Wemba to form Yoka Lokole in 1976. In 1980, guitarist Manuaka Waku also founded his own group, Grand Zaiko Wa Wa. After a brief period of inactivity, the band returned in 1975, and in the following years maintained a prominent position in the soukous scenes, while competing with its own spin-offs such as Isifi Melodia, Yoka Lokole and later on in 1977 Viva La Musica of Papa Wemba after he left Yoka Lokole after another conflict of leadership between him and Mavuela Somo. The outcome of the personnel changes in the band was the establishment of N'Yoka Longo as the new leader, and new entries such as Lengi Lenga, Bakunde Ilo Pablo and Likinga. Zaiko Langa Langa's production of the latter 1970s are particularly sophisticated both in terms of melody and orchestration, and the choreography of the live performance was also richer than it was in the early years. In 1975 too saw the establishment of the longest serving front singers of Zaiko in Nyoka Longo, Bimi Ombale, Lengi Lenga and Likinga Redo who will become for fourteen years the face of Zaiko and impose Zaiko as the ultimate heavy weight of youth music in Zaire. The success of the band was so huge and unprecedented in Zairian music history that all the presonnel that have left the band were queuing to return. In 1977, Bozi Boziana rejoined the group, followed by Mashakado Mbuta and Evoloko in 1980.

Despite new internal quarrels and personnel changes with the departure of Evoloko, Bozi and Djo Mali in 1981 to form Langa Langa Stars, Zaiko Langa Langa were successful throughout the 1980s. The band was touring Europe and Africa regularly and was the first Zairian band to visit Japan. At the end of the decade at the height of their glory and having establish themselves as legends in Zaire, the band experienced another major split, between the two leaders of the group Nyoka Longo and Bimi Ombale. The band was divided in two with every musician choosing his camp between the two leaders who were part of Zaiko since it creation. With Meridjo, Bapius, Matima, Zamuangana who were part of Zaiko from it creation staying with Nyoka Longo followed by Dindo Yogo and the band was called then Zaiko Langa Langa Nkolo Mboka, and was considered as the original Zaiko, to differentiate it from the band of Bimi Ombale which was called Zaiko Langa Langa Familia Dei and had Lengi Lenga, Ilo Pablo, JP Buse and the rest of the musicians that came in the 1980s. Later on, N'Yoka Longo's group reacquired the original name "Zaiko Langa Langa", which has maintained until today. N'Yoka Longo is still the leader of the group.


In 2002, Zaiko performed in the mythic arena Zenith of Paris, France. More than 6.000 fans attended. This was considered by many as the renaissance or rebirth of Zaiko. In fact, as earlier as 1988, Zaiko, being very popular at that time, made plan to perform in Zenith but the great split that occurred in the band stopped it for doing so.

Zaiko spent 6 and half years in Europe (2002–09). Its Headquarters ware based in Bruxelles, Belgium. But the band gave more concerts in France and other countries around Europe. During that time in Europe, Zaiko released three albums: Eureka (2002), Empreintes (2004), Recontres (2006). In the last album, Nyoka Longo invited many former Zaiko musicians like Malage, Beniko Popolipo; and a retired Congolese musician Tony Dee Bokito. He also recruited from Kinshasa, the son of late Dindo yogo, Lola Muana.

During the time the Band was in Europe, Nyoka Longo, in 2006, charged Lola Muana who was then in Kinshasa to form a group that would promote Zaiko music in D.R.Congo. Lola recruited and formed a subsidiary group of Zaiko called Les Ganers de Zaiko. Bapius Muaka, a longtime guitarist bass player who left the group during a minor split of 1999, joined the Ganers too.

The group returned in D.R.Congo in January 2009 with only five musicians: Nyoka Longo, Doudou Adoula, Shou Lay Evoloko, Gege Mangaya and Lola Muana. Other members of the group defected and stayed in Europe where they formed a new band named Les Stars de Zaiko under the leadership of Adamo Ekula. Couple years later, they renamed their new band Zaikas Kolo Mboka.

Since his recruitment in Zaiko, Lola Muana was regarded by many as the principal heir of Zaiko. But in 2009, he was forced to quit the group because of his proposal to have a valid work contract with the group. His request was denied by the President of Zaiko, N'Yoka Longo Mvula Jossart. The son of Evoloko, Shou Lay, who backed Lola's request left the group too. In November 2011, Lola Muana was reinstated in the group.

Clan Langa Langa

Zaiko Langa Langa were both influential in their own right and through their many spin-offs. Most of these maintained a strong link to the original formation, and this is often reflected by the names they adopted. The groups that somehow belong to the Zaiko Langa Langa "franchise" are collectively known as the "Clan Langa Langa". This includes:

Partial discography

  • 1970 : Pauline
  • 1972 : L'amoureux decu
  • 1973 : Mete la vérité, chouchouna, Mbeya Mbeya, Zena
  • 1974 : Liwa ya somo, Mwana Wabi, Mizou, Eluzam, Belinda ya mbongo/Onassis
  • 1981 : Sarah Djenni
  • 1983 : La Tout Neige
  • 1984 : Bizita, Patchely
  • 1985 : Zaiko Eyi Nkisi
  • 1985 : Eh Ngoss! Eh Ngoss! Eh Ngoss!
  • 1986 : Bongoville
  • 1986 : Pusa Kuna... Serrez! Serrez!
  • 1997 : Papa Omar
  • 1987 : Bongama Kamata Position
  • 1987 : Subissez les conséquences
  • 1988 : Nippon Banzai au Japon
  • 1989 : Jetez l'Eponge
  • 1990 : Zaiko Langa-Langa F. D.
  • 1990 : Ici ca va "Fungola Motema"
  • 1992 : L'Autentique Zaiko Langa Langa
  • 1992 : Jamais sans nous
  • 1993 : Zaire-Ghana (recorded in Accra in 1976, produced by Henri Bowane)
  • 1994 : Ambiance a Kin" (Featuring Adamo Ekula, Baroza, Malage de Lugendo
  • 1995 : Avis de recherche
  • 1995 : Zekete Zekete
  • 1996 : Pacha labaran
  • 1996 : Saisie en Douane... 20 Ans Déjà
  • 1997 : Papa Omar
  • 1997 : Onassis
  • 1997 : Muvaro
  • 1997 : Le beau temps
  • 1997 : Bongo bouger
  • 1997 : Backline Lesson One
  • 1998 : Sans Issue
  • 1999 : Poison
  • 2000 : Etumba ya la vie ( An album by a dissident group of Meridjo: Zaiko Universel)
  • 2001 : Legend
  • 2001 : Feelings
  • 2002 : Anthologie
  • 2003 : Sentiment Awa / Essesse
  • 2003 : Eureka!
  • 2004 : Empreinte
  • 2006 : Rencontres
  • 2011 : Bande Annonce
Contributing artist


External links


  1. The name is not reported and spelled consistently. Some album covers (including those of Les merveilles du passé and Zekete Zekete) report the first word as Zaiko, while others use a diaeresis (i.e., "Zaïko"). The official web site of the band has both variants. "Langa Langa" is sometimes written "Langa-Langa" (for example on the cover of Le beau temps, Zaire-Ghana, Pacha Labaran and the Le meilleurs souvenirs series). As was common with soukous recordings, many album covers report modified versions of the band name with leading epithets such as "Tout-Choc" or "Anti-Choc" (or both: "Tout-Choc Anti-Choc Zaiko Langa Langa").
  2. Stewart, in Rumba on the River (p. 158), claims that "Langa Langa" means "to get drunk" in lingala (see [1]). Broughton, op cit, says Langa Langa is the name of an ethnic group.
  3. Broughton, World Music, p.463
  4. 4.0 4.1 Biography of Zaiko Langa Langa
  5. Broughton, op. cit., p. 463
  6. See the "Palma Res" section of Zaiko Langa Langa's official site.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 See N'Yoka Longo: The Charismatic Leader of Zaiko Langa Langa Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Longo" defined multiple times with different content
  8. See Origines of Zaiko, on the band's official site
  9. Nuttall, Beautiful Ugly, p.70