In mid-1996, just prior to the overthrow of Zaire's longtime President, Mobutu Sese Seko, Papa Wemba decided that he would return to live in Kinshasa. He wisely retained the Paris-based Viva La Musica as a recording and live band for his European-based Congolese fans, as well as Molokai International for his global solo career. Upon his return to Kinshasa, Wemba then also created a new orchestra which he christened Viva La Musica - Nouvelle Écriture. In 1997 Wemba also adopted the prefix 'Mzee' to his name, becoming 'Mzee Papa Wemba', the meaning of which is literally wise man or sage. It stands as a testament to his global achievements for both African and particularly Congolese music.
papa wemba - zenith papa wemba - ferre papa wemba - brussels
In March 1999, Papa Wemba went back to Europe with Nouvelle Écriture and played sell out concerts in Brussels and at the huge Zenith stadium in Paris. At both concerts, fans were treated to live performances by the full line-ups of Molokai International, the Paris-based Viva La Musica (who had in Wemba's absence had added the suffix 'Cour Des Grands' , meaning 'big punch', to their name) and Viva La Musica - Nouvelle Écriture. During the Summer of 1999, Wemba also played further concerts in both Paris and Brussels with the Viva La Musica - Cour Des Grands. These shows celebrated Papa Wemba's 50th birthday, and at both concerts, Wemba was joined onstage by some of his colleagues from the Zaïko era as well as former Molokai stars. Wemba then returned to Congo to hold a 50th birthday celebration party, through a six-day festival held at Kinshasa's giant 'Stade des Martyrs'. On the final day of the festival, as a gift from the people of DR Congo, Papa Wemba was awarded Chieftainship of DR Congo’s 'Mongo' ethnic group, in respect of his services to Congolese music and culture.
papa wemba - kinshasa 1
papa wemba - kinshasa 2
papa wemba - family
Papa Wemba, Mere Amazone & Family