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Ngwako Manamela was born at Riverside and raised in Mamelodi. He played with many jazz musicians in the country, the likes of Bunny, Racha, Stompie Manana, Moses Molelekwa Mduduzi Makhathini, Ma B Thobejane, Khaya Mahlangu, Selaelo Selota, Moses Mohale and Tlale Makhele. While performing with other bands, he caught the eye of Hugh Masekela who later encouraged him to go solo. He then recorded his debut album with Hugh Masekela
called (Ramilodi), which was nominated for SAMA awards, and further featured in both albums recorded by Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba, Don Laka and MCoy Mrubata.