Niwel Tsumbu is the fifth child of a family of six born in 1982 in Democratic Republic of Congo (ex Zaire). Growing up in Kenshasa, he was a shy boy until the day his brother brought a guitar home. Just a week later Niwel's cousin Papy Makaya (who taught Niwel his first piece on the guitar) was amazed with the sixteen year old's ability to learn and play the music of his ancestors - soukous and rumba.
From then on Niwel’s schoolbag was under his bed and the guitar took its place.. His mother’s hopes that her clever son would become an engineer or a lawyer faded as Niwel would lock himself in his room and play all day. He was later introduced to Crispin Ngoy: a very talented musician who passionately taught Niwel jazz. This led to Niwel discovering many other styles of music which influence him to this day.
At seventeen Niwel secretly enrolled himself in music college. He still didn’t own a guitar, and spent endless hours walking from school to home, drop his schoolbag, walk another thirty minutes to borrow a guitar, and then walk some more to Crispin's house for a jam.
NIWEL TSUMBU MOVED TO CORK IN SOUTHWEST IRELAND IN 2004, leaving his troubled motherland of the Congo, looking for a safer and better life. He quickly became involved with the Irish music scene and formed many groups including Sumu, Kimia (Jazzmu), Motema, the Clear Sky Ensemble as well as starting a long-time collaboration with percussionist Eamonn Cagney.