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Papa Wemba given glorious farewell in Kinshasa

Thousands of people attended several funeral events for Congolese music star Papa Wemba on 2-4 April in the country’s capital, Kinshasa. His body laid in the parliamentary building for an official commemoration and later at his family home for the public to view, among other activities giving the super star of African music a fitting departure. 

President Joseph Kabila delivered a tribute to the singer at the parliamentary building, and awarded him the DR Congo’s highest honour for the “loyal and eminent services given to the nation”. Papa Wemba was finally laid to rest on 4 April.

Known as the king of Congolese rumba, the 66-year-old collapsed and died on stage in Abidjan on 24 April. Papa Wemba, who pioneered modern Congolese soukous music which spread throughout the continent, is one of Africa’s most influential musicians. 

Born Jules Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba on June 14 1949 in the Kasai region of the then Belgian Congo, his father was a customs official and his mother a pleureuse (professional mourner). In a career spanning almost half-a-century the flamboyant and outspoken musician took his soukous rhythms from the streets of Mobutu-era Kinshasa to the world.

Felix Dappah

Photo: Courtesy of Brazzaweb Le Portail de Brazzaville

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