Updated: Sep 4, 2020
Corona bared its fangs on 24/03/2020 when it took one of Africa's greatest music exponents in France. I had wanted to refrain from posting anything on the ravages of corona virus on this blog but it forced my hands by consuming Manu Dibango. Manu played Soul Makossa in 1972 and since then, 48 years after the world still cannot get enough of Dibango.
The magic of Soul Makossa still captivates the whole world after so many years.
Manu Dibango born Emmanuel N'Djoke Dibango was born in 1933 in Douala Cameroun, his father was a civil servant and his mother a business woman. It was said his father had earlier sired a child from his previous daliances . Manu was of mixed parentage, while his father was of the Yabassi tribe his mum was from Douala.
Manu started music early when he attended a protestant church. In 1941 he moved to the colonial school after leaving the village school and it was there he learnt to speak french.
In 1946 he was packaged to France where he continued his life and his studies, though like most great musicians he soon fell out of school to pursue his dreams.
Growing up he was influenced by different genres of music. Louis Amstrong had an influence on him, so did soul, rhumba and jazz.
In 1958 he joined a Congolese Soukous band called African Jazz, the soukous music is a form of African Rhumba. In fact after Dibango released soul Makossa monster hit in 1972 a lot of music lovers branded Congolese Soukous music Makossa. The mistake i am afraid still persists till date.
Soul Makossa launched Manu into international Super stardom such that the revered saxophonist could never replicate the feat again as all other albums though great could not get the recognition soul Makossa got. Manu had become a global music icon and was much sought after for collaboration or collabos for short as we say in Africa.
He had Collabos with the likes of Fela Kuti, Herbie Hancock, King Sunny Ade, Sly stone and Robbie to mention a few. Manu with his trade mark bald head and shades with his Saxophone was now a global music icon comparable with the likes of Miles Davies and Fela Kuti and this is not putting it mildly. He was a National treasure to Cameroon. His baritone voice and laughter was a turn on for many women, he was not only a national treasure to Cameroon, he was a treasure to both France and Belgium.
Afrima 2016 legendary award winner
Nominated for Grammy awards in 1973 for Soul Makossa
Appointed Unesco artist for peace in 2004.
Once served as Chairman of Cameroon music corporation
* In 1994 did a collabo with Sunny Ade, Sinead O Connor and Black Mambazo to produce Wakafrica.
Catalog: Manu released a lot of songs/albums in his lifetime right from the 60's but Soul Makossa seems to have defined his music and his life. among his releases are the following;
Saxy Party 1969
Some lobe 1971
Soul Makossa 1972
African funk 1974
Gone clear 1979
Bao Boa 1992
African Soul 1997
From Africa 2003.
This is not an exhaustive list of his works as a lot of other songs/albums have not been included.
Not a lot is known about his private life, but he is said to be a father of children, and once sued Rihanna and Michael Jackson for plagiarism.
He is speculated to be rich with a lot of property holding across the world, but exactly how rich is not known. maybe Forbes could help in that regard.
Many thanks to Wikileaks and the various media whose pics we have used.
Click the link below to listen to the songs featured on the Blog