The Congolese band Konono No. 1 has lost its founding member. Minigiedi Mawangu, who was an architect of one of the principle sounds of the group, passed away on April 16th at the age of eighty-five years old.
Minigiedi Mawangu founded Konono No. 1 in the late 1960s. The Congolese band would have been just a meager blip on the radar of world music had Mawangu hadn’t incorporated the use of an electrified likembe, a traditional African instrument which consists of metal lines aligned on a wooden board. Also known as the Mbira, the instrument had never been electrified until Mawangu took to electrifying the instrument for his group Konono No. 1. The distinctive sound formulated by the instrument lead Konono No. 1 to become one of the more popular African groups of the 1960s and 1970s. They did not acquire any international fame until the release of their 2004 record, Lubuaku, and later the follow-up record Congotronics. From there, the group went on to collaborate with Bjork, Herbie Hancock, and Deerhoof on a few records. Their last recording as a group was 2010’s Assume Crash Position.
Konono No.1, as well as many people in Africa and around the world will surely miss the talents of this brilliant musician.