Shedding Light in the Darkness

We Lost Another Great Musician – Papa Wemba


The BBC posted comments by some African stars after Congolese singer Papa Wemba  Wemba died on stage on Sunday. His Ivory Coast concert was being broadcast live on national TV. After settling in Paris in the 1980s, he became one of the best-known  musicians from Africa. He sang with Stevie Wonder and opened for Peter Gabriel, before going on to record for Gabriel’s Real World label.

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.”

Manu Dibango – “He was the voice of Africa.”

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