Lokua Kanza was born Pascal Lokua Kanza
in Bukavu in the province of Sud-Kivu, in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. He is the eldest of eight children, with a Mongo father and a Tutsi mother from Rwanda. In 1964, the family went to live in Kinshasa in a middle class area, until the day when Pascal's father, a ship's captain, died. His mother then moved to a much poorer area of the city, and Pascal, the eldest, had to work to feed the family. He therefore went to school part time, and took odd jobs, as well as singing in churches. Lokua Kanza sings in French, Swahili, Lingala, Portuguese, and English.