Manu Dibango: taken away by coronavirus

Manu Dibango, veteran Afro-jazz star died in Paris on Tuesday after getting infected with the coronavirus.

He was the first musical icon to have died as a result of COVID-19.

The virus a few days ago infected the 86-year-old Cameroonian saxophonist, born as Emmanuel N’Djoke Dibango.

He passed away early on March 24 at a hospital in Paris. His music publisher Thierry Durepaire confirmed the death.

Manu Dibango was best known for his 1972 hit Soul Makossa.

He was born in Douala Cameroon on 12 December 1933 and learnt music while attending his local protestant church.

When he launched his music career, he took off as a member of the seminal Congolese rumba group, African Jazz. Over the years, he collaborated with many other musicians.

These were Fania All Stars, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Herbie Hancock, Bill Laswell, Bernie Worrell, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, King Sunny Adé, Don Cherry, and Sly and Robbie.

His biggest hit, “Soul Makossa” influenced other popular music hits. Among them was Kool and the Gang’s “Jungle Boogie”.

He served as the first chairman of the Cameroon Music Corporation.

UNESCO appointed him Artist for Peace in 2004.

His song, “Reggae Makossa”, featured on the soundtrack to the 2006 video game Scarface: The World Is Yours.

In August 2009, he played the closing concert at the revived Brecon Jazz Festival.

In July 2014, he made an 80th anniversary concert at Olympia, France.

On 8 September 2015, Michaëlle Jean, Secretary General of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, honoured Manu Dibango with the title of Grand Témoin de la Francophonie aux Jeux Olympiques et Paralympiques de Rio 2016.

The title means Special Representative of Francophonia to the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

*Dibango’s bio excerpted from Wikipedia