20, March 2020
Congolese music star Aurlus Mabélé has died in hospital in France’s capital Paris, aged 67.
Posts on social media from friends and relatives say he died of coronavirus but this is not confirmed.
His fans called him the king of soukous – a high-tempo Congolese dance music popular across Africa.
His daughter, French singer Liza Monet, tweeted on Thursday that her father had died of coronavirus. “I am inconsolable” she wrote.
Fellow member of the supergroup Loketo, Mav Cacharel, also said on Facebook that he had died of coronavirus.
His manager, Jimmy Ouetenou, however, told BBC Afrique that it was not confirmed he died of coronavirus and that he had long-term health problems.
He was admitted to hospital on Thursday and died on the same day.
Mabélé, whose real name is Aurélien Miatsonama, was from Congo-Brazzaville and moved to France in the 1980s.
His hits include the track Embargo.
Mr Ouetenou said talks were already underway with the Congolese government for him to be buried in his home country.
In the meantime, his coffin will be placed in a burial vault until travel restrictions due to coronavirus are lifted, reports BBC Afrique’s Rose-Marie Bouboutou.
Mabélé took soukous around the world
Under his real name Aurélien Miatshonama, Mabélé founded Les Ndimbola Lokole with his friends in Brazzaville and recorded some of the hottest hits that moved the African continent in the 1970s, such as Embargo, Zebola and Waka Waka.
Later, he moved to Paris where he founded another band, Loketo, meaning “hips” in Lingala – the language of most soukous songs, which is widely spoken in western DR Congo and Congo-Brazzaville.
With more than 10 million albums sold over a 30-years of musical career, Aurlus Mabélé took soukous beyond Africa, around the world.