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Thonton Kabeya was born in, Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Thonton describes himself as self-taught. 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, attending workshops. He believes that this helped him to grow and improve as an artist, and from those experiences, he learnt that art is about learning from both his own and other's experiences.