Manu Dibango

Emmanuel N’Djoke Dibango, Cameroonian musician and songwriter, was born 12 December 1933 and died 24 March 2020. He played vibraphone and saxophone. His musical style combined jazz, funk and traditional Cameroonian music. Although his father belonged to the Yabassi ethnicity, his mother was a Duala. His 1972 single, “Soul Makossa”, was his most well-known. On 24 March 2020, he died from COVID-19. Dibango was born at Douala in Cameroon. Michel Manfred N’Djoke Dibango was his father and a civil servant. He was the son of a farmer and met his wife while travelling by pirogue from Douala to her home. She was a literate woman and a fashion designer. Her ethnic group, the Duala and hers, the Yabassi, were both disapproving of the union of different ethnicities. Emmanuel did not have siblings. However, he did have a stepbrother from his father’s previous marriage that was four years younger than him. Cameroon dictates one’s ethnicity. However, Dibango wrote in Three Kilos of Coffee that he “never was able to identify fully with either [his] parents.” His extended family was led by Dibango’s uncle. Dibango’s father refused the leadership role after his death. He had never fully introduced his son to Yabassi customs. Dibango lost touch with the Yabassi language as he grew up, and began to prefer the Duala. His family lived in the Yabassi camp on the Yabassi plateau near the Wouri River in central Douala. As a child, Dibango went to Protestant church every night to receive religious education (nkouaida). Dibango enjoyed music and was said to be a quick learner. After being educated in his village school, Dibango was admitted to a colonial school near his home where he learned French. He loved the teacher, who he called “an exceptional draftsman and painter.” Charles de Gaulle, the French president of France, chose this school in 1944 to conduct the welcome ceremonies for his arrival in Cameroon. He was a member the legendary Congolese rumba band, African Jazz. He has also collaborated with many musicians including Bernie Worrell and Bernie Laswell. His disco hit “Big Blow”, which was originally released in 1976, gained him a large following in the UK. It was re-released in 1978 as a 12″ single on Island Records. He recorded CubAfrica in 1998 with Eliades Ochoa, a Cuban artist. GRAMMY nominated artist. The lyrics to the song “Soul Makossa”, from the album of the same title, contain the words “makossa”, meaning “dance” in his native language, Duala (Cameroonian language). It is a key influence on many popular music tracks, such as “Jungle Boogie” by Kool and the Gang. Eddie Murphy’s parody 1982 song “Boogie In Your Butt” uses Soul Makossa’s bassline and horn tracks, while 1990s hip-hop group Poor Righteous Teachers heavily reworks “Butt Naked Booty Bless”, which heavily uses its musical bridges and drum patterns. His first position as chairman of Cameroon Music Corporation was a prominent one, and he is often cited in disputes over royalties. In 2004, Dibango was named a UNESCO Artist for Peace. His song “Reggae Makossa” is featured on the soundtrack of the 2006 videogame Scarface: The World Is Yours. He played the closing concert of the revived Brecon Jazz Festival in August 2009. He performed the 80th anniversary concert at Olympia in France, which was broadcast on TV5Monde. He filed a lawsuit in 2009 alleging that “Don’t Stop the Music”, and “Wanna be Startin’ Somethin'” used the hook “Mama-say mama-sa ma-ma ko-ssa”. This was without his permission. According to Dibango the line comes from his 1972 single, “Soul Makossa”. Agence France Presse reported that Jackson confessed that he borrowed the song for “Wanna be Startin’ Somethin’” and that he settled out of court. Jackson allegedly granted Rihanna permission to sample the line in 2007 without having to contact Dibango before. The case was brought by Dibango’s lawyers to a Paris court. They demanded EUR500,000 in damages, and asked that Sony BMG, EMI, and Warner Music be “barred” from receiving any income related to the matter. The judge ruled Dibango’s claim inadmissible. A year prior, a different Paris-area judge had ordered Universal Music to include Dibango’s names in the liner notes for future French versions of “Don’t Stop the Music”. At the time of the earlier court appearance, Dibango had withdrew legal action and waived his right to further damages. Michaelle Jean (Secretary General of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie) awarded Manu Dibango the title Grand Temoin de la Francophonie des Jeux Olympiques et Paralympiques de Rio 2016. Dibango was killed in an accident on 24 March 2020 at COVID-19. From Wikipedia

Leave a Comment