The famous Musician Papa Wemba died in the early morning of April 24. The 66-year-old collapsed during a concert in Abidajan, Ivory Coast. The cause of death is still unknown.
Born in 1949 Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba was the synonym for Congolese creativity with his mixture of African, Cuban and Western Sounds. Within five decades of career he grew to one of the most famous stars of Africa.
Not only Congolese Rumba and Soukus, a style of music that emerged from that, are related to Papa Wemba. After the picture of Prince and David Bowie, Papa Wemba was infamous for his style of clothing. As a part of the movement “Sapeur” he valued expensive, and sometimes quite eccentric clothes. The movement faces Congo’s poverty with designer outfits for with members usually pay enormous sums.
Papa Wemba is not totally innocent. 2004 he went into jail in France for 15 Months because he impersonated illegal immigrants as members of his band knowing that they would not come back to Africa again.
After all, the grief regarding Papa Wemba’s death is big. Congolese Culture Minister Baudouin Banza Mukalay called it a “ great loss for the country and all of Africa“. There are likely to be many huge events in remembrance of Papa Wemba all over Africa.