Bonane was born in Banningville (now Bandundu), in the
Democratic Republic of Congo (ex-Zaire). He was weaned
on the sounds and rhythms of the Bandundu region. In
1966, Wawali dropped out of school with friend and partner
Pepe Kalle, now one of Congo's top stars, to form their
first band, Les Monkoy.
1974, Wawali was invited by superstar Tabu Ley Rochereou
to join his band, Afrisa International. Throughout his
career Wawali has been creating hybrid music known as
soukous, a popular style that first came to prominence
in the 1950's and combines elements of Cuban rhumba
and Antillean music with Congolese aesthetics.
the soukous scene from Congo to Paris, the international
center for soukous, Wawali was a mainstay on
the scene, working as a support singer for a variety
of performers and pursuing his own solo projects. After
leaving Afrisa International, Wawali and longtime partner
Steve Mgondo came to Seattle and tenaciously dug in
with their band Yoka Nzenze. Later, they were joined
by renowned soukous guitarist Nseka Binwela (a.k.a.
are also supported by an ever-changing variety of Seattle-based
songs on Safarini feature Wawali Bonane and Yoka
Nzenze - Tcheni Tcheni, Wumba Wumba and Kusanga Ema.
"Tcheni Tcheni" means "don't worry, don't worry",
Wumba Wumba gives lessons on how to live a productive
life, and Kusanga Ema is a love ballad to a woman
named Kusanga, in a Congolese rhumba/calypso style.
Wawali describes the singing as "like talking to someone…
when you are in love, you forget your mother and everyone,
but sometimes the person you love is not the one you
can stay with forever".