The late Papa Wemba, a popular performer of  Congolese rumba, newly inscribed on Unesco’s intangible cultural heritage list. Photo: Pierre Verdy/AFP
The late Papa Wemba, a popular performer of Congolese rumba, newly inscribed on Unesco’s intangible cultural heritage list. Photo: Pierre Verdy/AFP
Music

Congolese rumba: why the dance recognised by Unesco is special, and what its heritage designation means to two African nations

  • Rumba evolved from music brought to the Americas by African slaves, before returning to Africa and being readapted
  • In the two Congos its songs are guitar-led and often about love, but rumba also became intertwined with the fight for independence from France and Belgium

Topic |   Music
The late Papa Wemba, a popular performer of  Congolese rumba, newly inscribed on Unesco’s intangible cultural heritage list. Photo: Pierre Verdy/AFP
The late Papa Wemba, a popular performer of Congolese rumba, newly inscribed on Unesco’s intangible cultural heritage list. Photo: Pierre Verdy/AFP
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