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Music star Papa Wemba dies

BBC News BBC News 24/04/2016
Papa Wemba performing in Paris, 15 February 2006 © Getty Images Papa Wemba performing in Paris, 15 February 2006

The influential Congolese music star Papa Wemba has died after collapsing on stage in Abidjan in Ivory Coast, media reports say.

Video from the concert shows the artist, who was 66, slumped on the floor as dancers continue to perform, unaware of what is happening.

French broadcaster France 24 confirmed the death, quoting his manager.

On the African music scene since 1969, Papa Wemba won a world following with his soukous rock music.

The Congolese band leader, whose real name was Jules Shungu Webadio, also inspired a cult movement known as the Sapeurs whose members, young men, spend huge amounts of money on designer clothes.

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

Hit after hit

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.

Kinshasa rapper Youssoupha mourned the band leader in a tweet (in French), saying, "Like my community, I am devastated by the death of Papa Wemba.

"He was the icon of our culture, of our lifestyle. This is a huge loss."

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