VATICAN: Papa Wemba’s Musical Message will last forever, says Fr Lombardi

VATICAN MAY 6, 2016 (CISA) – The Holy See, through its spokesperson, Fr Federico Lombardi has  paid tribute to Papa Wemba, a Catholic, for rendering his voice to promote the message of reconciliation through his songs composed for the Church.

“… The news of his death touches us deeply. But we are happy to have made with him significant initiatives for Africa because the songs he performed for Vatican Radio and thus for the Church bear a message that will last continuously. Singing for Peace, Justice and Reconciliation is to sing for a better world; a reconciled world in which Africa is invited to live joyfully. In fact, not only Africa but the whole world,” said Fr Lombardi, the former Director General of Vatican Radio.

 According to Fr Lombardi, Papa Wemba and other musicians were instrumental in getting the message of the bishops gathered in the Second African Synod of Bishops (2009), which focused on Justice, Peace, and Reconciliation to the African people,

“It was not enough to write beautiful documents, with long discussions and explanations of the doctrine of Church. And so we found that such a message could pass through music, through songs, which is an important dimension of many of Africa’s cultures. It is within this framework that we called some African artistes, especially Papa Wemba, to help us,” said Fr Lombardi.

“We asked Papa Wemba, and other musicians to produce a compilation CD, an album with songs they would compose just to get the message of Justice, Peace and Reconciliation. They were original songs inspired by the trilogy of ‘Justice, Peace and Reconciliation.’  Afterwards, we produced many copies of this CD and sent it to all the Catholic dioceses in Africa after the Synod meeting had ended,” he said.

The CD compilation album was titled, ‘Afrika tenda amani’ which in KiSwahili encourages Africans to act for peace and it was done together with Angola’s folk and Semba music singer, Bonga; the group Fifito from Guinea led by Vatican Radio employee Filomeno Lopes.

Elsewhere on May 4 the Archbishop of Kinshasa, Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo led the country in paying tribute to Papa Wemba during a funeral Mass held at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Kinshasa. The ceremony was attended by family members of the late musician, six bishops, over 50 Catholic priests, government officials and diplomats.

Papa Wemba, 66, was born Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba in June 1949 in Lubefu, then Belgian Congo. He collapsed and died while performing on stage in Abidjan, Ivory Coast on April 24 April.

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