How Papa Wemba, Africa’s Music Star Died On Stage

Papa Wemba

Africa’s King of Rhumba Rock and influential Congolese music star, Jules Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba, commonly known as Papa Wemba, passed away on Sunday aged 66 after reportedly collapsing onstage during a concert.

Video from the show in Ivory Coast showed him slumped on stage behind a group of dancers, before they rushed to his aid.

His pioneering blend of African, Cuban and Western sounds became one of Africa’s most popular music styles.

The musician fell ill in the early hours of Sunday morning. The cause of his death has not been established.

He died before he could be brought to hospital, a spokesman for the Ivosep morgue in Abidjan told Reuters news agency.

Born in 1949, Wemba, whose real name was Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba, began his singing career in religious choirs.

He helped modernise Congolese rumba music, with the genre that emerged – soukous – influencing music across Africa.

Together with his bands Zaiko Langa Langa, Isifi and Viva La Musica, he racked up hit after hit, including L’Esclave and Le Voyageur.

He appeared in two feature films, Life Is Beautiful (1987) and Wild Games (1997).


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