Congolese music star, Jules Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba, commonly known as Papa Wemba, has died after collapsing on stage in Abidjan in Ivory Coast.
Video from the concert shows the artist, who was 66, slumped on the floor as dancers continue to perform, unaware of what was happening.
The Congolese band leader also inspired a cult movement known as the Sapeurs whose members, young men, spend huge amounts of money on designer clothes.
Wemba made his style of music, Soukous, also known as rumba rock, to become a popular sound across Africa.
Together with his bands Zaiko Langa Langa, Isifi and Viva La Musica, he racked up hit after hit including L’Esclave and Le Voyageur.
He was one of Africa’s most popular musicians, prominent in world music, and a fashion icon who popularised the Sapeur look and style through his musical group Viva la Musica.
Papa Wemba’s road to fame and prominence began when he joined the music group Zaiko Langa Langa. This was followed by his success as a founding member both of Isifi Lokole and then Yoka Lokole. But Wemba gained international success and status with his band Viva La Musica, especially after he took them to Paris, France in the early 1980s, while mixing into the music a more “eclectic sound,” influenced by western popular music and a more European flavor of sounds and style.
He was one of the first musicians to join the influential Soukous band Zaiko Langa Langa after it was created in December 1969 in Kinshasa, along with many well known Congolese musicians including Nyoka Longo Jossart and Bimi Ombale, among others.
Papa Wemba (then known as Jules Presley Shungu Wembadio) helped contribute to the success of Zaiko Langa Langa so that, by 1973, it was one of the more successful Congolese groups with one of the busiest touring schedules. Soon its shows and concerts featured a string of their popular hits, including many that were written by Wemba. The latter included “Pauline,” “C’est La Vérité,” “Chouchouna,” and “Liwa Ya Somo.”
Zaiko Langa Langa had gained a strong and popular following even in a Congolese musical world dominated at the time by various musical acts including Franco Luambo and his band TPOK Jazz, or Tabu Ley Rochereau’s Afrisa, and (at the time) new musical acts such as Bella-Bella and Empire Bakuba.
Wemba died after collapsing on stage in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire on April 24, 2016 at the age of 66.