African music legend Papa Wemba dies during concert

An African rumba singer collapsed on stage mid-way through a song and later died.

Congolese star Papa Wemba was performing in Abidjan in the Ivory Coast when he dramatically fell to the floor.

Footage from the show revealed his backing singers rushing over to help the stricken star.

Local media later reported he had suffered a seizure and died aged 66.

Real name Jules Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba, he was one of Africa’s most popular musicians.

He was playing at the Festival des musiques urbaines d’Anoumabo (FEMUA) when he collapsed.

Organisers from FEMUA later confirmed Papa Wemba had died during a press conference.

His press spokesman Henry Christmas Mbuta Vokia, told local station Radio Okapi: “Around 5:10, time of Abidjan, Papa Wemba was announced on stage.

“He sang the first and the second song. While singing the third song, he collapsed.

“I was following the concert live on television. I saw the dancers surround Papa Wemba. I thought it was a scene for the concert.

“But then I see people from the Ivorian Red Cross pop up on stage.

“Suddenly we cut the signal of the Ivorian television. I tried to talk to call the manager of Papa Wemba abroad, Cornelie.

“He told me that Papa Wemba fell during a concert.

“I remember ten minutes later, I was told that he is in intensive care. I call thirty minutes after, Cornelie told me that Papa Wemba passed away.”

In 2004, he was convicted in France of a role in an illegal immigration racket and spent three months in prison.

But he remained one of Africa’s most popular musicians.

Soukous, also known as rumba rock, became the most popular sound across Africa.

Together with his bands Zaiko Langa Langa, Isifi and Viva La Musica, he racked up hit after hit including L’Esclave and Le Voyageur.

In addition to the prison time he spent in Europe, he was once jailed in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo), for allegedly having an affair with a general’s daughter.

His conviction in France related to a racket whereby illegal immigrants were taken to Europe posing as members of his band.

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