Cameroonian saxophone wizard Manu Dibango is dead. The 86-year-old artiste, one of Africa’s greatest musicians ever, succumbed to a Covid-19 infection on Tuesday, 24th March, in Paris.
Dibango, whose real name was Emmanuel N’Djoké Dibango, was born on 12th December 1933, in Douala.
“It is with deep sadness that we announce to you the loss of Manu Dibango, our Papy Groove, who passed away on 24th March 2020, at 86, to Covid-19,” read a press release on his official Facebook page.
“His funeral service will be held in strict privacy, and a tribute to his memory will be organised when possible.
If you wish to send your condolences, please write to the following email: [email protected]”
Dibango was best known for his 1972 hit single, Soul Makossa, which means, “I dance”, in his native tongue, the Cameroonian Duala language.
He was a member of the seminal Congolese rhumba group, African Jazz, of Le Grand Jeff Kalle, in Kinshasa, and through which he collaborated with many other distinguished musicians. They included Fania All Stars, Fela Kuti, Herbie Hancock, Bill Laswell, Bernie Worrell, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, King Sunny Adé, Don Cherry, and Sly and Robbie.
The celebrated musician served as the first chairman of the Cameroon Music Corporation, during which high-profile disputes about artistes’ royalties occurred.
Dibango was named a Unesco Artiste for Peace in 2004.