Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Papa Wemba
The King of Rumba Rock

Jules Shungu Wembadio Pene Thabani Kikumba aka Papa Wemba, was born in 14 June 1949 in Kasai, Zaire. Papa Wemba is said to have first made his mark in 1969 in Kinshasa, where he was a singer, composer, and co-founder of the Soukous Band Zaiko Langa Langa. He left the Soukous group in 1974 to form his own band, Isife Lokole, and then in 1976 began Viva La Musica.

Young Papa Wemba with Mum and sibling

He later moved to Paris, France in the 1980s with the hopes of having his music reach a wider audience. His group Viva la Musica has lead to the emergence of new music talents from Congo. Some of the notable talents include Koffi Olomide and Kester Emeneya.

Papa Wemba is fashionably stylish when it comes to dressing, always taking risks with colours and designs. According to a BBC documentary Papa Wemba is reported to be the leader of Snappy "Le Sappe", style the Société des Ambianceurs et Persons Élégants, which translated into English means a society of people who spend huge amounts of money on designer clothes with the motive of making themselves as conspicuously elegant as possible.

Papa was arrested on 18 February 2003, and charged for aiding illegal immigration of individuals from the Democratic Republic of Congo into Europe. Papa Wemba was found guilty and spent three and a half months in prison, an experience which he declared had had a profound psychological effect on him. The singer claimed to have undergone a spiritual conversion in jail and even recounted this episode on his new album, "Somo trop" (released in October 2003). On the song "Numéro d'écrou", Papa Wemba recalled the day "God" paid a visit to his cell.

According to the French authorities, would-be immigrants from the Democratic Republic of Congo paid $4,500 in exchange for documents showing that they were members of Papa Wemba's band or road crew.
French officials...became suspicious when some 200 people showed up at immigration in 2000, claiming to be Papa Wemba's musicians, yet none had any musical instruments with them. French police say some turned out to be goat herders and others fishermen.More Click here BBC

Papa Wemba was made an Ambassador Against Mines on International Mine Action Day, 4 April 2007, by MAG, as part of a UNICEF funded Mine Risk Education (MRE) and communications campaign. In his new role as Ambassador, Papa Wemba will be publicising mine risk education messages through television, radio and posters, to reduce the threat posed by explosive remnants of war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The great Papa Wemba from the Congo. Picture shot at Festival Mundial, 17 June, 2007


In 1987, Papa Wemba played the male lead role in the successful Congolese film La Vie est Belle by Belgian director Benoit Lami and Congolese producer-director Ngangura Mweze.

Best African Movie - Papa Wemba - La Vie Est Belle Part I
Best African Movie - Papa Wemba - La Vie Est Belle Part II


PAPA WEMBA: N.Y. Broadway "eScLAVE"
Papa Wemba - Fa fa fa (sad song)
Dixieme Commandement
Kolo histoire
So why- Papa Wemba

Wake up Koffi Olimide and Papa Wemba

Papa wemba et koffi olomide Mi amor live

For More Information

Papa Wemba Official Site

"Singers and musicians aren't able to make a decent living from their music any more because of the problems associated with piracy," he says, "So I think we should try and compensate this lack of earnings through dedications. We should return to the old tradition of 'praise songs' - where money wasn't originally involved - where singers glorify a person, recounting his life story and the history of his parents and his grandparents, a bit like 'griots'."

"When I started out we basically worked under live conditions in the studio," he says, "But these days musical programming has come to play an increasing role in the studio. I'm trying to adapt to the new technology - that's what's in fashion now and I can't afford to ignore it!"

Papa Wemba plays musical godfather The Congolese star promotes the next generation

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