Thousands mourn Papa Wemba as final journey begins
Thousands of mourners attended the first day of official commemorations in the Democratic Republic of Congo to mark the sudden death of music star, Papa Wemba.
His body was laid in the parliamentary building in the capital, Kinshasa, and would be taken later to his family home for the public to view.
Papa Wemba will be buried tomorrow.
Known as the king of Congolese rumba, the 66-year-old died after collapsing on stage in Ivory Coast on April 24.
President Joseph Kabila delivered a tribute to the singer at the memorial held at the parliamentary building, and awarded him one of the DR Congo’s highest honours for the “loyal and eminent services given to the nation”.
An enormous red hat, modelled on the one Papa Wemba was wearing at the time of his death, stood above his coffin.
A life-sized effigy of the singer stood next to it.
Fans from all over DR Congo attended the memorial, the BBC reported from Kinshasa.
They included mourners from the Society of Elegant People, known as the Sapeurs, who saw Papa Wemba as a god of fashion.
Papa Wemba was born Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba in June 1949 in Lubefu, in what was then the Belgian Congo.
He was considered one of Africa’s most influential musicians and pioneered modern Congolese soukous music, which spread through the continent.
In a career, which spanned over four decades, he collaborated with stars like Peter Gabriel and Stevie Wonder.
“Papa Wemba brought Congolese music to the world. He showed another part of Congolese music. He’s an icon.
Lokua Kanza, Congolese Singer
“Papa Wemba was for me a father. We lost the biggest artist in DRC. Politicians (from all sides) are (even) prepared to meet because of his death.