OBITUARY: Manu Dibango Dead as Result of COVID-19

“Mama-say, mama-sa, ma-ma-ko-ssa”

Well, there’s a line that is ingrained in the pop sensibilities ever since Michael Jackson sang it in his smash single “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’” in 1982.

Unless, of course, you were already familiar with the phrase that was at the heart of the very first hit song from Cameroonian musician Manu Dibango, “Soul Makossa,” ten years earlier. (Jackson later settled out of court on the charge of copyright infringement.)

Emmanuel N’Djoké “Manu” Dibango died on Tuesday from complications of COVID-19 (12/12/33 – 03/24/20). Over the course of his career, he had more than 70 titles to his name (including compilations), beginning in 1968 with Manu Dibango and 1969’s Saxy Party. But it was that 1972 album Soul Makossa that put Dibango on the map permanently. His work has been sampled often. Dibango played saxophone and vibraphone and was successful at mixing jazz, soul, and Cameroon music into a tasty treat.

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