Thonton Kabeya was born in Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He is one of the youngest of 22 siblings. Kabeya has always had an insatiable desire to explore, and his curiosity for what lies beneath still reveals itself in his work today.
"We don’t study art to become artists ... we are already born artists. That means our place is not at school.''
Thonton describes himself as a self-taught artist. When he graduated from school, rather than studying further, he elected rather to immerse himself in the art world by assisting established artists in their studios, reading books and attending workshops. He believes that this helped him to grow and improve as an artist, as he understood that art is about learning from both his own and others' experiences.