Legendary Congolese Musician Papa Wemba Dead at 66
Legendary Congolese Musician Papa Wemba Dead at 66

Papa Wemba, the King of Rhumba Rock has died. He was 66.

Wemba, born Jules Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba, collapsed on stage during his performance at the Urban Musical Festival Anoumabo on April 23. He was rushed to an area clinic, but was unable to be saved. The cause of death has yet to be determined.

Congolese Culture Minister Baudouin Banza Mukalay called Wemba’s death “great loss for the country and all of Africa,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

Wemba rose to fame with his musical genre of Soukous, a combination of African and Latin sounds in the 1970s in Congolese’s capital, Kinshasa. He would branch out to regions in Europe with the band, Zaiko Langa Langa, where he’d become one of the forces behind the popularization of Congolese music to different parts of the world outside of Africa.

“He was a self-made man, a role model for Congolese youth,” said Mukalay.

Wemba was also considered responsible for the emergence of the elegant fashion style, “sapeur,” which consists of wearing suits and fedora hats on stage. 

Wemba leaves behind his wife Marie-Rose Luzolo and 6 children.

Celebrities react to his death below.

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