Oliver N’Goma was a Gabonese afro-zouk and soukous singer and guitarist. Nicknamed “Noli,” he was born in Mayumba in south-west Gabon in 1959. He is best known for his 1989 song Bane, which was popularized by Radio Africa N.1 and Gilles Obringer.
N’Goma was first exposed to music by his father, a teacher and harmonium player. Although he took his first music lessons when he was eight years old, he began performing for audiences after moving to Libreville to attend school. While taking classes in accounting, he joined the Capo Sound, the school band, where he learned to play guitar. The group played at formal dances and balls, teaching N’Goma the art of performing on stage.
N’Goma was a poor student, devoting himself to music and cinema instead of his classwork. His love of film led to a job with Gabon TV, who sent him to France in 1988 where he was trained as a cameraman. While spending a winter in Paris, he finished work on music he’d written in Gabon. He shared his music with Manu Lima, a Capeverdean well-known record producer. Lima was impressed with the young man’s work, and handled the artistic direction of N’Goma’s first record Bane.
The album enjoyed modest success at first, until an African radio station began to play his songs. The title track scored large success in Africa, France, and the French West Indies, and continues to rank as a party anthem in those areas. It enjoys success comparable to Mario by Franco or Yeke Yeke by Mory Kante. The album is one of the best-selling African albums to date.
N’Goma released a second album, Adia in December 1995, again working with Manu Lima. Five years later, his third album Seva debuted. A greatest hits compilation, Best of Oliver N’Goma was released in 2004.
Oliver N’Goma died from renal failure, an ailment he had battled for the last two years of his life, on 7 June 2010 at Omar Bongo Hospital in Libreville, Gabon