A few days ago, America mourned the death of Prince in Minneapolis and now the whole of Africa is mourning the death of renown Congolese musician Papa Wemba, who collapsed and died on Sunday morning while performing at a festival in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Papa Wemba was aged 66.
Born Shungu Wembadio, Papa Wemba started his music in religious choirs and was later able to pioneer a blend of African, Cuban and Western sounds that made him famous not just in his native Democratic Republic of the Congo, but throughout Africa and the world.
Generations of Africans have grown up listening and dancing to his many tubes from this exceptionally talented musician. Papa Wemba who started achieving notoriety in the early 70s while playing in bars and music halls of Matonge, a suburb of Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He recruited and produced many other famous Congolese musicians including Kofi Olomide, King Kester Emeneya and Reddy Amisi.
Papa Wemba’s influence went beyond music and he became a cultural icon, combining the love of music with fashion, style, women and good life. He was the driving force behind what is known as SAPE (Society des Ambianceurs et Personnes Elegantes- Society of party goers and Well-dressed individuals). This movement influenced many young people in Africa and the African diaspora in Western countries.