Five things you probably didn’t know about Papa Wemba
As curtains fell on Congolese musician Papa Wemba on Sunday, most people knew him just as the rhumba music maestro.
Here are some additional facts about the fallen legend.
1. He was an actor
Apart from singing, Papa Wemba had a lead role in a Zairean film La Vie est Belle by Belgian director Benoît Lamy and Congolese producer-director Ngangura Mweze back in 1987.
In 2012, he had a cameo role in the Belgian drama film Kinshasa Kids.
2. He had dual citizenship
Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo in June 14, 1949, he later moved to France in the 1980s to sell his music internationally. He acquired a Belgian citizenship as his music career blossomed.
3. He was jailed for months
While in France in 2004, he was jailed for three months in connection to smuggling Congolese immigrants to Europe. A Belgian court convicted him of the same crime in 2012 and fined him 22,000 Euros (Ksh2.29 million) along with a suspended prison sentence of 15 months.
4. His fashion sense inspired a cult
His dapper sense of fashion inspired the La Sape movement (also called Sapeurse) of Congo who are a group devoted to elegant style. The group’s sole purpose is to look good. During a past interview the legend said his dressing was inspired by his parents who would dress up on Sundays.
5. His mother was a professional mourner
His adopted mother was a Pleureuse, a professional mourner. He drew his inspiration from some of her laments, especially when working on slow songs where he would match the emotion that he heard in her singing to a slow dancing style.