Papa Wemba The Soukous King Passes On At 66


The king of Congolese Rumba, Papa Wemba breathed his last, having collapsed on stage during a performance in Ivory Coast.

Papa Wemba had on a printed monochrome Kaftan, red over sized bowler hat, and was dazzling his fans when he slumped on the stage at the Femua festival of urban music in Abidjan, Ivory Coast on Saturday night.

Following his slump, he was taken to a nearby clinic but nothing could be done to revive the father of six who seemed to be healthy just a few days earlier. His death was confirmed the following night by the organizers of the festival.

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The culture minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Baudouin Banza Mukalay expressed his sympathy to the musician’s family stating that, “It is a great loss for Congo and for all of Africa. He was a self-made man, a role model for Congolese youth.”

papa wemba music album

Papa Wemba, born Jules Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba, rose to fame in 1970 pioneering the Congolese Rumba which later came to be known as ‘Soukous’. The musician was known around the world and was in the same league as Fela Kuti, Miriam Makeba, and others who had great influence on African music. He was also featured in two films, Life Is Beautiful (1987) and Wild Games (1997).

The star also toured the world and performed along side music stars like Stevie Wonder and Peter Gabriel.

Many bereaved fans and singers have expressed their condolences to the family of the great African music icon.

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Angelique Kidjo told the BBC:

“I’m sad, and I’ve been struggling since the death of Prince and now we have the passing of Papa Wemba and I’m wondering what this is all about.I worked with Papa Wemba and he was a very nice, genuine soul and very shy at the same time”.

Kofi Olomide said in a video on his Facebook page

“I refused to believe it when the Ivory Coast government official told me. To be honest, from now on, life means nothing, we are nothing.
Today, with God’s forgiveness, I want to ask Him to accept Papa Wemba. He is his son.
I don’t know what to say. I want to give my condolences to all Congolese people and all Africans”.