King Kester Emeneya

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Jean Baptiste Emeneya Mubiala Kwamambu (November 23, 1956 – February 13, 2014) was a Congolese singer best known as King Kester Emeneya.[1]

He was born in Kikwit within the Democratic Republic of the Congo. While a student of political science at the University of Lubumbashi in 1977, King Kester joined the band Viva La Musica. After achieving success with several popular songs, he became the most popular African singer in the 1980s and created his own band, called "Victoria Eleison", on December 24, 1982.[2]

Emeneya Djo Kester was innovative with his music. He was the first central African musician to incorporate electronic instruments (synthesizers) in his album entitled Nzinzi which sold millions of copies in 1987. After years of success with populars songs, in 1993 he released his album Every Body distributed by Sonodisc. Every body was a big success internationally. In 1997, after a seven-year absence, King Kester returned to Congo. Nearly 80,000 people attended the first concert after his return, which was a record-setting feat according to the Congolese media. He has more than 1000 songs to his credit and has performed on all continents. King Kester Emeneya was an advocate of the African people. He was involved in charitable activities through his foundation. Emeneya was concerned about the level of poverty in the continent and wanted to make sure that Governments in different African nations managed enough efforts to improve the social lives of their citizens. A supporter of Barack Obama. He praised the U.S President in a number of his interviews for being an advocate of the poor. Emeneya performed a concert in Kinshasa in 2009 to help celebrate Obama's inauguration as the first U.S black president.

From 1991 until his death in Paris in February 2014, King Kester Emeneya lived mostly in France with his family. Emeneya's funeral was the largest in the history of Congo and was broadcast live on all channels in Congo and many others around the world. On April 6, 2014 Pope Francis welcomed Emeneya's family to Vatican City to express his support. On March 2, 2014, Emeneya was awarded the presidential civic medal posthumously by President Joseph Kabila for his service and extraordinary contribution to Congolese nation and music. This is the highest civilian award to be bestowed by a Congolese president. The award is given by a presidential decree. King Kester Emeneya was also awarded the title of Ambassador of Peace posthumously by the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom on February 21, 2015.

On April 25, 2014, a tribute concert held in his hometown of Kikwit ended in disaster, and at least forty people in the stadium lost their lives in a stampede following a power failure.[3]



  1. ^ "Le roi de la musique congolaise, King Kester Emeneya, est mort" (in French). France24. 2014-02-13. Retrieved 16 February 2014. 
  2. ^ White, Bob W. (2008). Rumba rules: the politics of dance music in Mobutu's Zaire. Duke University Press. p. 49. ISBN 978-0-8223-4112-3. Retrieved 26 November 2010. 
  3. ^ "Deadly stampede at tribute concert in Democratic Republic of Congo". Deutsche Welle. 2014-04-25. Retrieved 2014-04-29. 

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