1948 - 1968
Ngoma remains the most important Congolese record label, as well as one of the most important labels in all of Africa. It was started by two Greek brothers, Nico and Alexandros Jéronimidis, around 1948. Not only they record about 2000 discs, the first to capture all manner of Congolese musical styles (the rumba, cha-cha, and solo acoustic guitar picking of course), but they encouraged experimentation by their musicians.
Ngoma records were pressed in France and distributed primarily in Central Africa – Congo and Cameroon especially – and as such are, well, impossible to find. Not only that, but all the Ngoma masters were long ago lost in a warehouse fire in 1963. As if that wasn’t enough, the company then donated all of its file copies to the Congolese government, only to have those destroyed during political strife.
The label was active until 1968.