Congolese star Papa Wemba passes on after collapsing on Abidjan stage

The fashionable popular Congolese musician was performing in Abidjan

Papa Wemba
Papa Wemba has died at 66. PHOTO: Africa News RDC

Popular Congolese musician known for his fashion sense and Rhumba Rock sound which he helped pioneer, passed out while performing on stage and was later confirmed dead.

Real name Jules Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba, the legendary musician was in the middle of a gig at the Festival des musiques urbaines d’Anoumabo (FEMUA) In Cote d’Ivore when he collapsed in the middle of his set.

The Mirror posted a clip showing a choreographed dance by his dancers while the star falls to the ground and the backup dancers rush to help him out while the music still continues. The video does not however show any attempts to resuscitate him, and it remains unclear if medical assistance was sought for him.

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Mirror also reported, Wemba’s press spokesman Henry

papa wemba collapse
Papa Wemba collapsed on stage in Abidjan in Ivory Coast. PHOTO: THE CITIZEN

Christmas Mbuta Vokia, said to local station Radio Okapi: “Around 5:10, time of Abidjan, Papa Wemba was announced on stage. “He sang the first and the second song. While singing the third song, he collapsed.”

No reports of health problems had been reported prior to the incident but the singer appeared frail in the past months.

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Papa Wemba began his music in the late sixties and has said his mother, a professional dirge singer influenced his signature musical style. He is known for his high-pitched mournful songs which became a distinct part of his style. This uniqueness helped him build a following different from Franco and Tabu Ley who were synonymous to Lingala music at the time.

Papa Wemba is well known in Kenya with a huge following who love his  hits such as ‘Yolele’, ‘Show Me the Way’, ‘Wake Up’ that displayed his falsetto at its finest.

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The singer has previously landed in trouble because of his songs which highlighted plights of love and social ills, with Mobutu Seseko’s regime arresting him.

The Daily Nation also reports that aside from music, Papa Wemba is an active member of the Sapeur movement, also known as the League of elegant gentlemen founded by Stervos Niarcos Ngashie. He became its leader in 1979.

He has been credited with setting the way and influencing other musicians such as Koffi Olomide, but says none of his children have followed in his footsteps.