Banner Image

Israel Kabongo

Israel Kabongo

18 years old
The Democratic Republic of the Congo
Biography by Divine Irakoze
Photo by Blessings Chilunga


Israel is originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He came to Malawi in 2013 at the age of eight. He was the first-born in a family of six. Music is his greatest passion; he started before he even came to Dzaleka, though he never had a chance to do it comfortably. He spent most of his time with musicians when he was young.

After arriving in Malawi, Israel was the first person to go to church, before anyone else in his family. This is when he first got interested in playing drums more seriously– which he had done sometimes back in his childhood, just for fun. He started playing drums in 2013, and managed to play at one of the biggest concerts around 2015; this is when he appeared to the public as a drummer for the first time.

Despite being a professional drummer from a young age, Israel always dreamed of playing the guitar, and was inspired by a musician called Ed Sheeran, and a Malawi musician known as Patience Namadingo. From September of 2014 to July of 2015, he kept struggling to find someone who could teach him how to play. Israel kept searching and working hard, and finally, after almost a year, he found a teacher.

When he started going for lessons, nobody believed in him, especially his parents. They knew him as a kid who would really not concentrate on anything, and so they thought he would give up on this as well. However, this turned out to be a very different story, since it was something he was passionate about already.

Little by little, this passion continued to grow, until Israel’s father saw how good he was becoming and decided to buy his son a guitar of his own so he wouldn’t have to always borrow from his friends anymore. The guitar helped him learn faster, and by 2016, Israel was able to play the guitar in the children’s seminar along with other more minor performances.

In 2017, he was taken in by a pastor from Cameroon who was happy with Israel's talent. He decided to move him to the capital city and allowed him to study there for a year, until 2018. In 2019, after taking it as a career, he started teaching both adults and children.

He had a long journey from 2019 to 2020 where he started signing some small contracts where he could earn something through music and many performances. After some time, a Malawian artist by the name of Patience Namadingo started hearing about Israel, a boy he’d met before during the Tumaini festival that normally happens in Dzaleka. He later on visited Israel’s page and was so amazed by the work this young boy was doing. In 2020, Israel created a band known as "HAPPY SOULS'' which the goal was to make every soul happy with just music. He had so many people willing to join him, but unfortunately he had only planned for a few people due to lack of funds and support.

In 2021, around February, Patience Namadingo decided to visit him and gave him his own guitar. He has been using this for years and it was his favourite, but he decided to give it to Israel, and together they collaborated on his award-winning song known as “Mapulani”. Israel decided to join the bigger world of music, and started releasing songs more widely.

His plan is to have music schools in refugee camps all over the world because he believes it can also help them live a happy life just like it helped him. He wants to provide homes for those who lost parents at an early age. Israel remains a role-model to his fellow young people in the camp with the amazing work he has done at his age.