Sam Mangwana (born February 21, 1945), is a Congolese musician, born to a Zimbabwean migrant father and an Angolan mother. He is the frontman of his bands Festival des Maquisards and African All Stars. Mangwana was a member of François Luambo Makiadi’s seminal band TPOK Jazz, and Tabu Ley Rochereau’s bands African Fiesta, African Fiesta National and Afrisa International.
He was born on 21 February 1945 in then Leopoldville, now Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the largest city in that country. His father was a native of Zimbabwe and Sam’s mother was a native of neighboring Angola.
Mangwana’s professional debut occurred in 1963 with the Congo-Kinshasa rumba band, African Fiesta, owned and led by Tabu Ley Rochereau. Mangwana moved across the Congo River to Brazzaville where he formed a short-lived group called Los Batchichas. He also worked with the more established Negro Band and Orchestre Tembo. He then crossed back to Kinshasa where he joined Tabu Ley, whose band was now known as African Fiesta National.
In 1967, Mangwana again left to form Festival des Maquisards. The band included notable recording artists; vocalist Dalienst, guitarist Dizzy Mandjeku and lead guitarist Michelino. Two years later, Sam Mangwana was on the move again. He recorded duos with a guitarist called Jean Paul “Guvano” Vangu, until 1972.
In 1972 he joined TPOK Jazz, led by the legendary Franco. Mangwana often played lead singer on compositions by OK Jazz guitarist Simaro Lutumba. His popularity increased tremendously during this time. The collaboration with Simaro yielded three extraordinary hits: “Ebale ya Zaire”, “Cedou” and “Mabele”. He left OK Jazz and briefly to re-joined Tabu Ley’s band, now called Afrisa. He then left again, this time moving to Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, in West Africa. In 1978 he formed, along with others, the band African All Stars.
When the All Stars broke up in 1979, he became a solo artist. He recorded and toured with varying combinations of musicians. “Maria Tebbo” (1980) with remnants of the All Stars, “Coopération” (1982) with Franco, “Canta Moçambique” (1983) with Mandjeku, and albums with saxophonist Empompo Loway under the names “Tiers Monde Coopération” and “Tiers Monde Révolution” were highlights of his career in the 1980s.
Due to his frequent goings and comings, he won the nickname “pigeon voyageur” (travelling pigeon). In the 2000s, Sam Mangwana spends most of his time in Angola, emerging periodically to perform concerts in Europe.