Thousands mourn Papa Wemba in Kinshasa

Thousands of mourners are attending the first day of official commemorations in the Democratic Republic of Congo to mark the sudden death of music star Papa Wemba.

papa wemba

His body is lying in the parliamentary building in the capital, Kinshasa, and will be taken later to his family home for the public to view.

Papa Wemba will be buried on Wednesday.

Known as the king of Congolese rumba, the 66-year-old died after collapsing on stage in Ivory Coast on 24 April.

President Joseph Kabila delivered a tribute to the singer at the memorial held at the parliamentary building, and awarded him one the DR Congo’s highest honours for the “loyal and eminent services given to the nation”.

Papa Wemba's
Image captionThe musician’s coffin was draped in the national colours

An enormous red hat, modelled on the one Papa Wemba was wearing at the time of his death, stood above his coffin.

A life-sized effigy of the singer stood next to it.

Image captionThe effigy was constructed in Papa Wemba’s signature pose

Fans from all over DR Congo are attending the memorial, the BBC’s Maud Jullien reports from Kinshasa.

These include mourners from the Society of Elegant People, known as the Sapeurs, who saw Papa Wemba as a god of fashion.

Image captionSapeurs turned out to pay tribute to Papa Wemba’s style

Who was Papa Wemba?

Papa Wemba performs on stage in Paris, in 2006Image copyrightAFP

Papa Wemba was born Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba in June 1949 in Lubefu, in what was then the Belgian Congo.

He was considered one of Africa’s most influential musicians and pioneered modern Congolese soukous music, which spread through the continent.

In a career which spanned over four decades, he collaborated with stars like Peter Gabriel and Stevie Wonder.

What Papa Wemba meant to Congolese musicians

“Papa Wemba brought Congolese music to the world. He showed another part of Congolese music. He’s an icon.

Lokua Kanza, Congolese Singer

“Papa Wemba was for me a father. We lost the biggest artist in DRC. Politicians [from all sides] are [even] prepared to meet because of his death.

Lexxus Legal, Congolese hip hop artist 

Source: BBC

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