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Musician Papa Wemba dies at age 66

Congolese musician, Papa Wemba
Congolese musician, Papa Wemba

One of Africa's greatest and popular musicians, Papa Wemba, reportedly died early Sunday morning after collapsing on stage at a music festival in the Ivory Coast.

Mr. Wenba, 66, is known around the world as the king of Congolese rumba.

The VOA quotes organizers of the festival as saying: “He had performed three songs at the Urban Musical Festival Anoumabo (FEMUA) in Abidjan before collapsing in front of thousands of fans.”

Following the incident, fellow performers rushed to his aid, but he died before reaching the hospital, officials said. The cause of musician Wemba’s death wasn't immediately known.

Culture Minister, Baudouin Banza Mukalay, confirmed the musician's death Sunday, calling it a "great loss” for the country and all of Africa.

“He was a self-made man, a role model for Congolese youth," Minister Mukalay also said. FEMUA officials expressed "deep sorrow" at Wemba's death.

Born in June 1949, in what was then Belgian Congo, the singer was at the forefront of African music for more than four decades.

He rose to fame in the late 1960s and 1970s in Kinshasa, the Capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, with the band Zaiko Langa Langa.


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