Congolese Musician Papa Wemba has died after collapsing on stage in Abidjan. Ivory Coast. The cause of his death is yet to be established.
Papa Wemba was one of the most influential musicians and a renowned figure in the World Music circles with a career spanning over four decades.
“King of Rumba” was a key figure in one of the African Sokous groups Zaiko Langa Langa which he joined while a youngster in 1969. The group was popular among fans who viewed traditional rhumba music-popular with likes of Joseph Kabasele-as old fashioned.
After a successful stint with Zaiko Langa Langa, The rhumba-rock star left the group and formed his own band Isifi Lokole in 1975. Isifi Lokolo (Instut De Savoir Idealogique pour la Formation des Idoles) was more inclined to folk style music.
The African legend went ahead to form another group Viva La Musica in 1977 with about 15 musicians then, the group remained intact for more than 30 years.
The musician was a pioneer of the Sapeurs culture popular in Congo, where young men are known to put on flashy expensive designer clothes and talk a certain way. His Fashion style further helped spiral his career to celebrity status.
Papa Wemba has performed alongside many legendary artists in his home country and beyond and even took to acting at some point in a Franco-Zairian film “La Vie est Belle”. His performances in festivals are some of the most memorable among his fans with a stash of albums that have stayed revelant and influenced many in the music sphere.
The singer was convicted in France in 2004 for a period of three months in prison over an illegal immigration racket.. Immigrants were getting into Europe disguised as members of his band.
The singer was once held in Zaire for allegedly having an affair with a General’s wife.
Tributes from fellow artists started flowing immediately after reports of his death surfaced.
“Good-bye yaya, thank you!” Congo musician Koffi Olomide posted on his Facebook page