“Africa must look in the direction of Nigeria” – Lokua Kanza bares his mind in a chat with Lawrence Audu.
In spite of the language difference, one thing that is common with both Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo, is a rich musical heritage. Those with aged parents whose prime were in the 70s can attest to the nostalgic recall of legends in the likes of Sir Victor Uwaifo, Bright Chimezie and Victor Olaiya. The list cannot end without the mention of TPOK Jazz and the angelic voice of Mbelia Bel.
Today, the younger generation of music makers in both Nigeria and DRC continue to wax even stronger giving birth to collaborations between Fally Ipupa and Awilo Longomba of Congo with a host of Nigerian artists including Psquare, J-Martins and Tuface Idibia which has no doubt produced a new form of hybrid Afro pop.
One other Congolese artist looking in the direction of Nigeria as the future of African music is Lokua Kanza. Born Pascal Lokua Kanza in Bukavu, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Eldest of eight with a Mongo father and a Tutsi mother from Rwanda.
On the tragic death of his father who was a ship captain Lokua had to work many odd jobs to feed the family.
This renowned artist who has many albums to his credit including Nkolo, Toto Bona Lokua, Plus Vivant, Toyebi Té and Wapi Yo sings in French, Lingala, Portuguese and English. He spoke to us on a wide range of issues. (Interview originally conducted in French)Excerpts:
Who is Lokua Kanza?
I am a musician, singer and composer from the Democratic Republic of Congo
What genre of music do you play? Your art generally
Well I think my music is… I can call it African songs. A mixture of my roots and including some flavours from others cultures too.
What is your source of inspiration? Life. situations of life, pain hope, love… moonlight, sunshine, all elements of nature in fact.
Besides the issue of piracy ravaging arts what are your challenges musically?
Wow is a disaster. Because today is hard to invest in good quality, this also mean so much money. I hope one day, people will understand this. If you want quality, please by Original CD.
What is your impression about Nigeria? Have you been here before?
I love Nigeria and the energy of the people. For me today Nigeria is the heart of Africa. A source of inspiration in many ways.. I have been there long time ago with Manu Dibango..I would like to play there again.
Congo music is quite popular here in Nigeria and recently we have seen some level of collaborations between Congolese and Nigeria stars singers like Fally Ipupa and Awilo Longomba have been here and they are generally accepted. When do you hope to bring your arts here?
Soon very soon…. it s a real dream, because I really like Nigerian people and their music.
What is your focus at the moment?
For this moment, I am focused on my new album. I hope it’s gonna be released in 2018 by the grace of God.
What is your projection for the future?
My projection for the future is to see Africa unite and help the world to another vision of love, instead of power of money..
what do you have for the younger generation in terms of mentorship?
I’d like to teach our young generation to be free in their mind. To be creative, and believe in themselves.