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Ivory Coast unveils memorial plaque for African music giant Papa Wemba

Ivory Coast

Gone but not forgotten, Ivory Coast unveiled a plaque in memory of the king of Congolese rumba music, the late Papa Wemba.

The blue plaque bearing the inscription “Papa Wemba’s place,” is situated a few meters away from where the music star collapsed on April 24, last year while performing at the Festival of Urban Music (Femua).

The ceremony was graced by the Ivorian Culture Minister and his Congolese counterpart in the presence of deceased’s daughters and band.

Sonore Asalfo, a lead vocalist of Ivorian group Magic System said, “Papa Wemba has gone away, but his heritage remains. It is up to us artists from Africa and elsewhere to assume the cultural heritage that Papa Wemba has left us.”

The Sapeurs were not left out, they were out in full force, showing their elegant colourful costumes. Papa Wemba was nicknamed the prince of the Sapeurs, a movement of which he speared in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“Papa Wemba had left a rich and varied musical testimonial for posterity and whose anthology is a true school for the young generation of African musicians,” Maurice Bandaman, the Ivorian Minister of Culture added.

The BBC quotes a close confidant of the late artiste, Lokua Kanza as eulogizing Wemba who he closely worked with.

“Papa Wemba was not just a singer. He was an incredible man; he was an incredible human being. I got the chance to work with him and for me, we lost someone very important. Important for me and for our continent.

“[He] was a friend. We did beautiful and great things together. The best way to remember him is to not forget what that guy was; what he gave to Africa; what he gave to the world. He had a unique voice. And he should also be remembered as a humble guy.”

The Festival of Urban Music opens on Tuesday (April 25) in Abidjan and will take place essentially in Anoumabo, the birth place of the Ivorian music group ‘Magic System’.

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