Sunday 4 December 2016

African rumba music legend dies on stage

Ange Aboa

Published 25/04/2016 | 07:00

Congolese music star Papa Wemba has died after collapsing during a set at the Urban Musical Festival Anoumabo (FEMUA) in Abidjan. Photo: AFP PHOTO / STRSTR/AFP/Getty Images
Congolese music star Papa Wemba has died after collapsing during a set at the Urban Musical Festival Anoumabo (FEMUA) in Abidjan. Photo: AFP PHOTO / STRSTR/AFP/Getty Images

Congolese rumba music legend Papa Wemba died after collapsing on stage in the Ivory Coast in the early hours of yesterday morning.

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Wemba, born in 1949, was performing at the FEMUA 2016 festival when he collapsed on stage. Videos posted online showed the artist falling on his back mid-song before band members rushed to his side.

He died before reaching hospital, a spokesman for the Ivosep morgue in Abidjan said.

Known in the Democratic Republic of Congo as the King of Rumba Rock, Wemba's career began in the late 1960s.

He became a staple of African music over the following decades, involved in bands including Zaiko Langa Langa and later Viva La Musica that reached audiences across the world.

He was known for mixing traditional African music with western rock and worked with international stars including former Genesis singer Peter Gabriel.

"Papa Wemba is a golden voice, an artist who has established himself through his work. The proof is that he died on stage," said the Minister of Culture and Arts of the DRC, Baudouin Banza Mukalay Nsungu.

Fans and colleagues paid their respects over social media. Eric Didia, a promoter of Congolese music in Ivory Coast and friend of Wemba who was at the Ivosep morgue yesterday morning, said Wemba would long be remembered.

Irish Independent

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