Papa Wemba: Stars remember the ‘voice of Africa’

Music fans across Africa are mourning the death of Congolese musician Papa Wemba who died at the age of 66 after collapsing on stage on Sunday morning.

Stars have been paying tribute to a man whose music influenced artists across Africa.

Angelique Kidjo

Angelique Kidjo

I’m sad, and I’ve been struggling since the death of Prince and now we have the passing of Papa Wemba and I’m wondering what this is all about.

I worked with Papa Wemba and he was a very nice, genuine soul and very shy at the same time.

I did a duet with him, Ami Oh, on a Manu Dibango album, and when you heard him sing it was magical that a guy who was that big had such an angelic voice.

He was a generous soul when it came to helping people, and he didn’t say much, but he observed a lot and when he spoke in that gentle voice everything he said was right on the spot.

His whole attitude about dressing well was part of the narrative that we Africans have been denied our humanity for so long.

People have always had stereotypes about us, and he was saying dressing well is not just a matter of money, not just something for Westerners, but that we Africans also have elegance. It was all about defining ourselves and refusing to be stripped of our humanity.

Angelique Kidjo was speaking to the BBC’s Newshour programme

  Manu Dibango

Manu Dibango in concert

Africa has lost another worthy son in the shape of Papa Wemba. It’s a painful beginning to 2016.

He was the voice of Africa.

We are all orphans… May the heaven and the spirits welcome him in peace. Papa Wemba will remain forever in our hearts.

Manu Dibango left this message on his Facebook page.

Koffi Olomide

Koffi Olomide

It’s a catastrophe. Congolese music has been decimated, it’s been blown apart. I don’t know what to say.

I refused to believe it when the Ivory Coast government official told me. To be honest, from now on, life means nothing, we are nothing.

Today, with God’s forgiveness, I want to ask Him to accept Papa Wemba. He is His son.

I don’t know what to say. I want to give my condolences to all Congolese people and all Africans.

This is an extract from a video Koffi Olomide posted on his Facebook page.

Femi Kuti

Femi Kuti

I was quite shocked because we were just getting over Prince’s death and then hearing this it was sad.

He was performing in a period of people like my father Fela Kuti, Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masakela, Manu Dibango – the African greats who have always opened doors for people like me.

They have always done Africa proud anywhere in Europe and America where they performed, and they opened doors for African musicians to tour Europe with great pride and respect.

Especially when you are playing African music in Europe and America, Papa Wemba’s name will be in the forefront of great names.

It’s a name that was always there and will always be there. It’s not a name that will go away any time soon.

Femi Kuti was speaking to the BBC ‘s Focus on Africa radio programme.

Source: BBC