Exactly one year ago, Papa Wemba, the legendary Congolese singer and musician famously known as 'King of Rumba' collapsed and died on stage while performing at Festival des Musiques Urbaines d’Anoumabo (FEMUA) – in Abidjan, Ivory Coast on April 24, 2016.
His death at the age of 66 came as a shock to the world. His death also served as a wake up call for artists, their managers, promoters and event organisers to see the need to employ the services of healthcare service providers for major concerts to provide first aid incase of an emergency.
In his lifetime, Papa Wemba founded the Viva La Musica – a DR Congo band in 1977, made a name for himself in France and Belgium and had collaborations with international artists including Peter Gabriel, Eric Clapton and Stevie Wonder during his long music career.
In February 2003, the singer was suspected of being involved in a network that allegedly smuggled hundreds of illegal immigrants from the DR Congo into Europe and was arrested at his home in Paris. He was found guilty by a Belgian court in June 2003 and was sentenced to fifteen months imprisonment and a €22,000 fine.
After his release in October of the same year after posting bail, he recounted the jail term in ‘Numéro d’écrou’, a song off his Somo Trop album.
His first year memorial will be celebrated by his fans in Kenya, Congo and Ivory Coast.
May his soul continue to Rest In Peace!