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Papa Wemba (1949 - 2016)

Getty Images / AFP / JUNIOR D.KANNAH

Papa Wemba (1949 - 2016)

Papa Wemba, a world music star known as the King of Rhumba Rock, has died, according to multiple news sources. He was 66.

The musician, born Jules Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba, was performing Saturday night at the Urban Music Festival in the capital of Abidjan, West Africa. He collapsed onstage and died later, said a statement from the festival on the Ivory Coast.

Papa Wemba was a highly influential figure in the dance-music genre known as Soukous and was one of Africa’s most popular musicians.


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Wemba was also known for his influence on Sapeur fashion, which features elegant suits, shiny black leather shoes, and flamboyant accessories. The young men who follow this trend spend a large amount of money on designer clothes, taking great pride in their appearances.

He also was an actor and played the lead in a successful Congolese film titled “La Vie Est Belle.”

Congolese President Joseph Kabila expressed his condolences, and there will be events paying tribute to him in the coming days.

Congolese Culture Minister Baudouin Banza Mukalay called his death a "great loss for the country and all of Africa," The Associated Press reported.

Kinshasa rapper Youssoupha mourned the band leader on social media, saying, "Like my community, I am devastated by the death of Papa Wemba. He was the icon of our culture, of our lifestyle. This is a huge loss."

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