Saturday, April 30, 2016

African Union Commission Chair Dlamini-Zuma Mourns Papa Wemba
April 29, 2016

ADDIS ABABA. – Chairperson of the African Union Commission Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma extended her heartfelt condolences and conveyed her sympathies to the friends, fans and family of the African musician of Congolese origin, Papa Wemba, who died while performing at a concert in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, on April 24. “The passing of Papa Wemba is a tragic loss, not only for the people of the Democratice Republic of Congo, but for Africa as a whole and the world in general”, Dr Dlamini-Zuma said.

“His music served both as a cultural tool for bringing Africa’s diverse populations together, but also, crucially, to project an African voice, into the global scheme. His talent and spirit will be greatly missed”, she added.

With a career spanning over four decades and resulting in numerous national and international accolades, Papa Wemba, born Jules Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, is a legend and icon in African music. Known also as Africa’s King of Rhumba Rock, Papa Wemba’s original sounds have roused and inspired many across the African continent, Europe and beyond.

Papa Wemba’s unique voice to contribute to a more positive narrative about Africa – beyond war, famine and poverty — and his music has been a tool for the promotion of African integration through arts and culture. He stood for, and advocated for a self-reliant Africa.

“In the spirit of giving his best to Africa, the King of Rhumba Rock was one of the artistes that came to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, when we were celebrating 50th anniversary of our continental organisation OAU/AU, in May 2013,” she said.

Meanwhile, hundreds of mourners welcomed the body of Papa Wemba, back to the Democratic Republic of Congo yesterday. It was flown into the capital, Kinshasa, from Cote d’Ivoire, where he died. Ivorian fans attended an all-night concert held in his honour in the city.

He is due to be buried on Tuesday after lying in state in a stadium in Kinshasa, on Monday. After Papa Wemba’s coffin left the airport it was taken to a morgue, reports the BBC’s Poly Muzalia from Kinshasa.

Many of Africa’s top musicians have paid tribute to Papa Wemba, including Cameroon’s Manu Dibango, who described him as the “voice of Africa”. Ivory Coast’s Culture Minister Maurice Bandaman said at a memorial service before the body left that “an artist never dies . . . Papa Wemba is dead, and now [he is] even greater than before,” reports the AFP news agency.

The BBC’s Tamasin Ford in Abidjan says most of the audience at the all-night concert were dressed in white as a mark of respect. Papa Wemba’s wife and his entire entourage were there, and his daughter read out a memorial prayer.

Performers included Ivorian stars Magic System, Meiway, Espoir 2000, Zouglou Makers and members of his Viva La Musica group, who were on stage with him when he died. Papa Wemba may be gone, but his music will stay with us forever.

-AU Commission/BBC/HR

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