Congo Star Papa Wemba Dies After Stage Collapse

African music pioneer Papa Wemba has died after collapsing on stage.

The 66-year-old was seen falling mid-song before dancers rushed to his aid.

The Congolese rumba star had been performing at the FEMUA 2016 festival in Ivory Coast when he collapsed in the early hours of Saturday morning.

He died before reaching hospital and the cause of death has not been established.

Wemba, real name Jules Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba, inspired a generation of African musicians with his fusion of Latin and African dance styles.

Papa Wemba

Wemba inspired a generation of African musicians

Bands including Zaiko Langa Langa and later Viva La Musica reached audiences across the world.

“Papa Wemba is a golden voice, an artist who has established himself through his work. The proof is that he died on stage,” said the Congolese minister of culture and arts, Baudouin Banza Mukalay Nsungu.

But a career spanning five decades was not without controversy.

In 2003, Wemba spent more than three months in jail after French and Belgian authorities accused him of smuggling people into Europe by claiming they were band or crew members.

He maintained his innocence and eventually received a suspended sentence.


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