African music star Papa Wemba has died after collapsing on stage. The 66-year-old was performing at the FEMUA 2016 festival in Ivory Coast when he fell to the ground mid-song.
In footage from the concert, dancers performing with him are seen rushing to his aid. While the cause of death has not been established, local media later reported he had suffered a seizure and he died before reaching hospital. Organisers from FEMUA later confirmed during a press conference Papa Wemba's death.
His press spokesman Henry Christmas Mbuta Vokia, told local station Radio Okapi: "Around 5:10, time of Abidjan, Papa Wemba was announced on stage. He sang the first and the second song. While singing the third song, he collapsed. I was following the concert live on television. I saw the dancers surround Papa Wemba. I thought it was a scene for the concert.
"But then I see people from the Ivorian Red Cross pop up on stage. Suddenly we cut the signal of the Ivorian television. I tried to talk to call the manager of Papa Wemba abroad, Cornelie. He told me that Papa Wemba fell during a concert. I remember ten minutes later, I was told that he is in intensive care. I call thirty minutes after, Cornelie told me that Papa Wemba passed away."
In a career spanning five decades Wemba, real name Jules Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba, inspired a generation of African musicians with his fusion of Latin and African dance styles. He also helped inspire a movement known as the Sapeurs whose members wear stylish clothes despite often living in impoverished conditions.
However his career was not without controversy. In 2003, Wemba spent more than three months in jail after French and Belgian authorities accused him of smuggling people into Europe in an immigration racket by claiming they were band or crew members. According to Sky News, he maintained his innocence and eventually received a suspended sentence.
Tributes have been paid to the singing star on social media with Wyclef Jean hailing him as one of Africa's biggest artists.
Congolese minister of culture and arts, Baudouin Banza Mukalay Nsungu paid tribute to the singer saying: "Papa Wemba is a golden voice, an artist who has established himself through his work. The proof is that he died on stage" .