Namibians just like the rest of the world are mourning the death of Congolese music star Jules Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba, commonly known as Papa Wemba who died at the age of 66 when he collapse on stage on Sunday morning.
Papa Wemba, known around the world as the “king of Congolese rumba” or the voice of Africa collapsed on stage during a festival in Abidjan in Ivory Coast. Video footages filmed disclosed the dramatic moment when Papa Wemba, wearing a bold black and white patterned tunic and oversized bowler hat, slumped to the floor behind a group of dancers before performers rushed to his aid. Local musicians and music fans could not hide their sentiments and have been paying tribute to Papa Wemba whose music and stage presence influenced them. Upon hearing the news, Namibia’s most celebrated guitarist, Jackson Wahengo, took to Facebook to express his blues. Wahengo says his musical inspirations came from many different sources and Papa Wemba is one of those.
“Having grown up in Angola and Congo Brazzaville, we did listen to a lot of Congolese music, especially the band Zaiko, of which Papa Wemba was a vocalist. His impact on my musical ear came when he recorded songs like Rail on, Show me the way, and many others. Those songs were special because he moved away from Soukous and Kwasakwasa, that was becoming too monotonous. He opened a door of endless possibilities African/Congolese music can go,” he says
“One of my African music maestro has left us,Namibia! Papa Wemba is no more,”says Papa Wemba admirer, Moses Elias Shivakola-Mberira on Facebook remembering a night in France (1988) when he and his Namibian entourage attended Papa Wemba’s live show with Salif Keita, the Lion of Bamako. “Imagine those two high pitching voices together under one roof. It was stunning, mind soothing and soul searching as well as good for thought. Your music inspired me throughout my studies abroad. Farewell my African jazz pioneer. May your soul rest in eternal peace,” Shivakola-Mberira adds.
In a recent interview Papa Wemba was asked when his last concert before he retires will be and
he said “I will retire when i die and it will happen on stage in front of my audience.” “He was an example of a brilliant musician. Dying on stage while busy doing what he loves, is simply amazing. His music was not only influential but touched a lot of people and he will be missed. Africa has lost an icon,” tributes Sara Usuta, a local follower. Papa Wemba (14 june 1949 – 24 april 2016) was a Congolese Rumba (later known as Soukous) singer and musician. Sometimes dubbed the King of Rumba Rock, he was one of the most popular musicians of his time in Africa and played an important role in world music. He was also a fashion icon who popularised thela sape look and style through his musical group viva la musica.