Wemba, Papa [(Jules) Shungu Wembadio]
- Gary Stewart
[(Jules) Shungu Wembadio]
(b Lubefu, Kasai Occidental Province, Belgian Congo [Democratic Republic of the Congo], June 14, 1949). Congolese singer and songwriter. Wemba's career began in 1970 in the group Zaïko Langa Langa. Zaïko was the most prominent of groupes des jeunes, youth bands that emerged in the late 1960s and early 70s as an alternative to older Congolese rumba bands. Personnel splits took Wemba to new groups, Lokole Isifi (1974), Yoka Lokole (1976) and his own Viva La Musica (1977).
Wemba sings in a strong, clear tenor voice, sometimes ascending to falsetto. His Mère Supérieure won best song honours in a 1977 poll of Kinshasa writers; Analengo (1981) and Evénement (1982) also earned acclaim. A 1986 album, L'Esclave (the slave), departed from the usual musings on love and relationships to attack the exploitation of Africa. Wemba starred in La vie est belle...