Congo buries its king of rumba, world music star Papa Wemba

AP News
Posted: May 04, 2016 3:58 PM
Congo buries its king of rumba, world music star Papa Wemba

KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — Thousands of Congolese attended the funeral Wednesday of Papa Wemba, a musician known around the world as the king of Congolese rumba.

The 66-year-old musician died April 24 following a collapse on stage during a concert in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

His life has been celebrated with performances, ceremonies and parades since Monday.

More than 15,000 people gathered outside, and 2,000 inside, the Notre Dame Cathedral in Kinshasa for the funeral service.

"For three days, as one man, the Congolese people, Africa and the world mourn the man who came to be known as the father of Congolese rumba," said Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo.

Bishops, priests, officials, local celebrities and family members gathered near his coffin covered in a Congolese flag before going to his burial site some 60 kilometers (37 miles) away. Rain poured down in Kinshasa after the burial — a sign of a blessing in the country.

Kinshasa mayor Andre Kimbuta said a mausoleum will be built in his honor.

"I salute the master of art, a man of talent and genius," he said.

President Joseph Kabila on Monday gave him the posthumous title of Grand Officer of the National Order. The country's cultural minister has said that a theater will be built in his memory.

Kadi Shungu, the daughter of the musician, whose real name was Jules Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba, described him as "a loving father, affectionate, very generous and with a legendary hospitality."

Papa Wemba rose to fame in the Congolese capital of Kinshasa during the 1970s with the band Zaiko Langa Langa, whose guitar-based fusion of Latin and African dance styles inspired a generation of African musicians. He moved to Paris in the 1980s and helped popularize Congolese music beyond Africa. In the 1990s he toured with British rock star Peter Gabriel.