Congolese musician Papa Wemba dies after collapsing on stage

Influential Congolese musician and style icon Papa Wenga dies after collapsing on stage during a concert 

Papa Wemba was a star for more than four decades
Papa Wemba was a star for more than four decades

The influential Congolese musician Papa Wemba has died aged 66 after collapsing during a concert.

Footage from the show in Ivory Coast showed Wenga slumped on stage. His dancers, initially unaware of what was happening, continued to perform before rushing to his aid.

The singer died before he could be brought to hospital, a spokesman for the Ivosep morgue in Abidjan told Reuters news agency.

The cause of his death has not been established.

Congolese President Joseph Kabila expressed his condolences, and said there are likely to be large events paying homage in the coming days.

Congolese Culture Minister Baudouin Banza Mukalay called his death a "great loss for the country and all of Africa", Associated Press reported.

In a career spanning almost half a century, Wemba became known as "the king of Congolese rumba".

He was also a style icon, popularising the cult movement known as the Sapeurs, whose members take great pride in their appearance and spend huge amounts of money on designer clothes.

Wemba had told CNN that he in turn was inspired by his parents getting dressed up on Sundays.

“They were always well put together, always looking very smart", he said.

Born in 1949, Wemba, whose real name was Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba, began his singing career in religious choirs.

He helped modernise Congolese rumba music, making it one of the most popular sounds in 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, and worked with international stars like Peter Gabriel.

He appeared in two feature films, Life Is Beautiful (1987) and Wild Games (1997).

In 2004, he was convicted of people-smuggling in France and spent three months in prison – over a racket whereby illegal immigrants were taken to Europe posing as members of his band.

A Belgian court convicted him of the same crime in 2012, handing down a fine of €22,000 and a suspended prison sentence of 15 months.

He was also once jailed in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) for allegedly having an affair with a general's daughter.

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