8 May 2016

Congo-Kinshasa: Strange Film That Foretold the Death of Papa Wemba

A scene in a film in which versatile Congolese musician Papa Wemba acted many years ago uncannily became a tragic reality when he collapsed and died on stage while performing at a concert in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, on April 24, 2016.

Papa Wemba's death on stage was very similar to the scene the musician and actor played in the 1987 French movie La Vie Est Belle (Life is beautiful).

In the film, Wemba is seen collapsing after failing to get Kabibi, his lover, who is instead married by someone else. Soon after his collapse after an attempted suicide, he is surrounded by many people wailing, just like it happened two weeks ago when some of his female dancers were overcome with emotion and screamed in agony on noticing that he had collapsed on stage.

Also featuring in the movie were dancing midget Ayilla Emoro, Mongali and the burly Pepe Kalle Yampanya who led the Grand Empire Bakuba Band.

Kabibi and Mongali made an emotional return to Kinshasa to pay their last respects to Wemba's body that was lying at the People's Parliament Buildings .

After the brief clip showing how Wemba died on stage went viral on social media, an irate Congolese fan posted another a clip in which he appeared to blame a stage attendant who was seen removing a microphone stand soon after Wemba's fall. He alleged foul play in the death, a claim that has been widely denounced by Wemba's manager and his family.

MUSIC MATTERS

Close family sources have confirmed that Wemba, who was said to have been a bit weak but chose to go ahead and perform in Abidjan, had said he would never let down his fans.

Earlier in the year, he had been hospitalised in Paris and his personal doctor had reportedly asked him to take a rest from live performances. But for the love of his career, Wemba chose to go ahead with the tour, which, initially was to incorporate his long-time associate and compatriot Koffi Olomide.

Koffi and Wemba have had a love-hate relationship dating back to the days when Koffi began his career as a songwriter in the late 1970s with Wemba's band, Viva la Musica. Their collaboration was to continue through to 1996, when they released their duet Wake Up, which led to the two men differing over royalties.

Koffi, who lost his father in France last weekend, was missing during Wemba's funeral service.

Wemba, born Jules Shungu Wembadio on June 14, 1949, will always be remembered for having lived through some controversies.

Last week, his manager, Marie-Laure Yaone, threatened to sue the Congolese national who posted the controversial clip with the wild allegations of foul play.

There was a brief protocol hitch on Monday when Wemba's widow, Mama Marie-Luzolo Amazone, declined a handshake from veteran Kiamwangwana Mateta Verkys, who recently differed with Wemba over music union matters.

Their compatriot, Tshala Muana, who was caught up in the mix up, later clarified alongside the widow that it was Verkys who had a probem with the family and not her.

The government handled the funeral arrangements for the singer, who was buried in a cemetery on the outskirts of Kinshasa on Wednesday.

Wemba's counterparts in Orch Zaiko Langa Langa -- his first group -- Bozi Boziana, Nyoka Longo, Manuaku Waku, Gina Efonge among others staged a tribute performance on Tuesday for him in Kinshasa.

Wemba made a string of hit songs, including 'Show Me the Way', 'Analengo', 'Kaokoko Korobo'. 'Foridoles', 'Rail On', 'Iyolole' 'Sai Sai'.

He was planning to release another album.

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