Film

Watch 1987's 'La Vie Est Belle' Starring The Late Papa Wemba

Papa Wemba starred in the hit film that tells the story of a struggling musician who tries to make it big in Kinshasa.

Photo of film art courtesy of Jeremy Rall.


I first heard of Papa Wemba through the movie La vie est belle, which translates to "Life is beautiful," or “Life is rosy.” Although it was released in 1987, some African countries still did not have TV stations, so it garnered so much popularity when high school students were lucky enough to watch it in the movie theater at their schools.

This film was also just as prominent like 1980’s The Gods Must Be Crazy, because they were able to depict the life that most of the people knew well in the countries that make up central and southern Africa.

Papa Wemba played the lead role, Kourou, who was a peasant from a village deep in the former Zaire, today’s Democratic Republic of the Congo. Kourou had the dream of becoming a great musician. He decided to leave the village venture off to the capital, Kinshasa, barefoot with his traditional musical instrument.

When he reached Kinshasa, he realized life in the city was starkly different and went through life’s ups and downs. As he struggled to overcome the challenges of adapting his music from the village to the city, he manages to make the new friends who are the big names in the history of Congolese rumba and soukous, including Pepe Kalle, who unfortunately also died while performing on stage in 1998.

Pepe Kalle’s little dancing sidekick, Emoro, who’s real name was Tumba Ayila, made an appearance repeating the phrase, “La vie est belle” throughout the film. And Kourou’s love interest, Kabibi, was played by Bibi Krubwa.

La vie est belle depicted romance, love and family reconciliation all with beautiful Congolese music as the thread. You’ll also hear music in the film from Tshala Muana, Klody and Zaiko Langa Langa, one of the most successful Congolese groups Papa Wemba co-founded and played a huge role in.

Watch La vie est belle in full, with English subtitles, below.

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Photo by NurPhoto via Getty Images.

A Year After #EndSARS, Nigerian Youth Maintain That Nothing Has Changed

Despite the disbandment of the SARS units, young Nigerians are still being treated as criminals. We talk to several of them about their experiences since the #EndSARS protests.

On September 12th, Tobe, a 22-year-old student at the University of Nigeria's Enugu Campus was on his way to Shoprite to hang out with his friends when the tricycle he had boarded was stopped by policemen. At first, Tobe thought they were about to check the driver's documents, but he was wrong. "An officer told me to come down, he started searching me like I was a criminal and told me to pull down my trousers, I was so scared that my mind was racing in different ways, I wasn't wearing anything flashy nor did I have an iPhone or dreads — things they would use to describe me as a yahoo boy," he says.

They couldn't find anything on him and when he tried to defend himself, claiming he had rights, one of the police officers slapped him. "I fell to the ground sobbing but they dragged me by the waist and took me to their van where they collected everything including my phone and the 8,000 Naira I was with."

Luckily for Tobe, they let him go free after 2 hours. "They set me free because they caught another pack of boys who were in a Venza car, but they didn't give me my money completely, they gave me 2,000 Naira for my transport," he says.

It's no news that thousands of Nigerian youth have witnessed incidents like Tobe's — many more worse than his. It's this helpless and seemingly unsolvable situation which prompted the #EndSARS protests. Sparked after a viral video of a man who was shot just because he was driving an SUV and was mistaken as a yahoo boy, the #EndSARS protests saw millions of young Nigerians across several states of the country come out of their homes and march against a system has killed unfathomable numbers of people for invalid or plain stupid reasons. The protests started on October 6th, 2020 and came to a seize after a tragedy struck on October 20th of the same year.

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