Farewell to a Congolese music legend
April 28, 2016 5:38 AM   Subscribe

One of Africa's most well known and influential musicians, and an international style icon, Congolese singer Papa Wemba died suddenly during a performance in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, on April 24, at age 66. Aside from the video clips contained within this NPR obituary, I'd recommend the entertaining feature film from 1987 starring Papa Wemba, La Vie est Belle.
posted by flapjax at midnite (15 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
More sad news to start the day.

Papa Wemba also gained notoriety for his offstage dealings. When he toured Europe in the 1980s, he would arrive with huge entourages of dozens of musicians, dancers and staff from Zaire. In 2003, he was accused in both France and Belgium of running a human-smuggling ring and went to jail for several months in France; when the case went to trial in 2004, prosecutors charged that many included in those entourages were actually illegal immigrants, who paid thousands of dollars to enter Europe with the famed singer. He was convicted in France, fined and given a suspended prison sentence; foreign news organizations like London's Independent reported then that his bail was paid by the Congolese government. Upon his release, he moved back to the DRC.

I remember when that was in the news and thinking how the whole thing would have made for a great movie plot. He was larger than life.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:03 AM on April 28, 2016 [2 favorites]

posted by Radiophonic Oddity at 6:05 AM on April 28, 2016

posted by ChuraChura at 6:05 AM on April 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

posted by Smart Dalek at 7:30 AM on April 28, 2016

He was one of the all-time greats. Thanks for this post.
posted by languagehat at 7:55 AM on April 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


I had a friend who spent a lot of time on research trips in Kinshasa and he first introduced me to Papa Wemba and I was enthralled. So sorry to hear this news.
posted by TwoStride at 8:31 AM on April 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

. . . ..
posted by gusandrews at 10:04 AM on April 28, 2016

posted by allthinky at 10:33 AM on April 28, 2016

Aw, man. I traveled extensively in Africa around 1990-91. Back in those days, all of the music being sold was on cassette tapes. I don't remember how I discovered Papa Wembe but I picked up his music wherever I could find it, and it brought me such joy. When I came home I eagerly pushed those cassettes into friends' hands -- "You've got to listen to this!"
posted by BlahLaLa at 1:01 PM on April 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

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posted by greermahoney at 12:15 AM on April 29, 2016

posted by asok at 5:32 AM on May 3, 2016

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