Rumble in the Jungle

Zaire ’74 was a three-day music festival in Kinshasa that took place in Kinshasa, Zaire in 1974 in conjunction with the landmark “Rumble in the Jungle” boxing match between famed pugilists Muhammad Ali and George Foreman.

"It was a very significant moment between the African audience and James, it was real and James put into another gear."


Organized by South African musician Hugh Masekela and American record producer Stewart Levine, the festival featured performances by musicians such as James Brown, Bill Withers, and B.B. King, among others.

Many of the American musicians performing at Zaire ’74 had been emboldened by the American Civil Rights movement, and saw this trip to Africa as a unique opportunity not just to perform for a new set of enthusiastic fans, but to explore their roots as well.

"We had been shaped and transformed by American culture and the history we had here, and they had been shaped by whoever colonised their place."

— Bill Withers


Do to legal complications the remarkable footage sat untouched and unedited for 30 years. In 1996 an Academy Award-winning documentary focusing on the very same Ali/Foreman match that took place alongside the festival finally cleared the rights to the footage.

The result is not simply a concert film featuring some of the most popular musicians of the era, but also a glimpse into a time when the musical crossover between two continents was just beginning to unfold.