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Welcome to Min-On’s Music Journey! Today, the Min-On Concert Association and the Embassy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Japan welcome you to Democratic Republic of the Congo, located in the center of the African continent.

Travel guide for the Democratic Republic of the Congo

・Listen to the best of Lingala music
・Take in a beautiful sunset over the Congo River in Kinshasa
・Visit the Salonga National Park to see rare flora and fauna


The Democratic Republic of the Congo, the second largest country in Africa, has a tropical climate and the majority of its land is covered by tropical rainforest. A diverse country, more than 200 ethnic groups and languages live here, and the wisdom of coexistence and unique cultures thrive through the lives of its people.

The music of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is one of Africa’s foremost musical powers and Congolese music has had a major impact on the music scene both within Africa and around the world. The City of Kinshasa, with its great cultural diversity, has music as a key enabler of intercultural dialogue and social cohesion. Kinshasa is by UNESCO standard a creative city of music. Kinshasa is home to the Rumba, a world immaterial heritage.

Lingala music

Lingala music is a genre of pop music that originated in Kinshasa, the capital of Congo. Papa Wemba, the “King of Rumba Rock,” incorporated elements of rock music into rumba, which was originally a fusion of Cuban sound and traditional Congolese rhythms and melodies, and developed it as rumba rock.

Comprising beautiful choruses, African rhythms, arpeggio picking and lively dancing, this style of music has gained popularity throughout the world.

Music Journey Editorial Team Choice Artist: Papa Wemba (1949–2016)

Papa Wemba was a popular singer and songwriter from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the creator of rumba rock and a pioneer of world music. Until his death at the age of 66 after collapsing on stage during a music festival, Papa Wemba was an artist who remained at the forefront as an evangelist of Congolese music to the world. Here, we introduce two of the songs he left behind.

Papa Wemba – Yolele

Archetypal Lingala music with a danceable rhythm track and a beautiful chorus.

Papa Wemba – Blessure

A late masterpiece that stands out for its emotional vocals over wistful piano and strings.

Li-NgomA Congolese Traditional Music and Dance Group

Based in Japan, Li-NgomA is a group of Congolese musicians and dancers that performs at a wide range of African festivals and international events. Wearing traditional costumes from the Kuba Kingdom, which flourished in Central Africa, the group’s performances featuring traditional Congolese instruments like the ngoma drums and ngoni string instrument, alongside folk dance, are a sight to behold!

The Sapeurs – a fraternity of gentlemen who have laid down arms in favor of elegance

On the streets of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, you will occasionally see gentlemen strutting their stuff in colorful, brand-name suits. These men are Sapeurs, members of the Congolese fashion community.

Originating from the French slang word sape, the Sapeur movement is thought to have originated during the 1920s when Congo-Brazzaville was a French territory; the word fell temporarily into disuse in the 1960s when the country gained independence. The style was later re-popularized by Papa Wemba, who took the world by storm with his beautiful, flamboyant suits from Japanese brands such as Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Miyake and more.

Sapeurs pursue a peaceful, elegant lifestyle that is informed by a simple ethos: “Let’s not fight and get our clothes dirty!” and “Use money for weapons on clothes.” For the people of the Congo, the sapeur movement is not simply fashion, it is a symbol of freedom and peace.

Kinshasa – a city undergoing remarkable urban development

Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is one of the largest megacities in Africa with a population believed to be around 17 million. Kinshasa is a port city on the lower Congo River, the second largest river basin in the world, and has been dubbed “Kinshasa the Beautiful” for its magnificent view of the river.

In Kinshasa, the Congo River runs like a vein to every corner of the city, and boats have been the traditional means of transportation and travel. Cruising slowly down this mighty river, more than 10 kilometers wide and winding through deep rainforest, is an unforgettable experience for any visitor.

Kinshasa, a UNESCO Creative City of Music

Along with the southern city of Lubumbashi, Kinshasa is also a UNESCO Creative City of Music. The city is considered to be the cradle of Congolese rumba, a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage, and is home to the National Institute of Arts, which has produced numerous artists. The city is also home to many recording studios and hosts a variety of music festivals.

As a Creative City of Music, there are hopes that Kinshasa will promote the development of new industries through music, collaborate with other creative cities, and develop new skills in young people and women.

Five Natural World Heritage sites and rare flora and fauna

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is also a natural paradise that is home to five Natural World Heritage sites. One of them, Salonga National Park, is Africa’s largest tropical rainforest reserve, with vast wetlands and pristine forests.

Because the park is very isolated and is accessible only by water, it is home to many rare animals and plants that cannot be found elsewhere. This habitat is home to many threatened species, including the pygmy chimpanzee (or bonobo), which is believed to live only in Congo, the okapi, the African golden cat and the flying fox. The chance to encounter such rare animals is a major draw for visitors. 

Musicians recommended by the Embassy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Japan

In closing, we would like to introduce musicians recommended by the Embassy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Japan

  1. Papa Ngwasuma Koffi Olomide


  1. Eloko Oyo Fally Ipupa


  1. Adios Thé Thé Tabu Ley


What did you think of your music journey to Democratic Republic of the Congo? There are still many more places to go! Please look forward to our next destination.

(Produced in collaboration with the Embassy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Japan, who also provided photos.)

Min-On Concert Association
-Music Binds Our Hearts-