manu-dibango2.jpgmanudibango_320.jpg manu-dibango-3.jpgManu Dibango Fetes Golden Jubilee in Music

Africa’s most celebrated musician is on world tour with his makossa beats

 By Amin George Forji

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There are very few people the world-over who can boast of sustaining a career for almost all their live. More so, very few can boast of entirely earning both a living and a name on a hobby. Yet, the 75 years old Cameroonian saxophonist, Manu Dibango embodies all of these. Nicknamed “The Lion of Cameroon”, after one of his famous tract on the album-‘The very best of African Soul’; the singer who began his international career in the 1950s has moved from strength to strength ever since in his honorable career, and is generally considered to be one of the world living legends of music. Needless to say he is one of Africa’s most celebrated musician of all times.

Born on December 12, 1933, in Cameroon’s economic capital, Douala, and despite ultimately dedicating all his time since the 1950s in the music studios, Manu is far from thinking of retirement. Instead, the artist is making an international tour, to perform in live concerts, in order to review his successful career, and mark what has been described as his golden jubilee in music. The four months tour of concerts, which was launched on March 24th , with Casino the Paris hosting the first event, will take the artist through four continents, notably: Europe, The Americas and Africa.

According to a tentative programme released by the Cameroon Music Corporation, the biggest concert in USA will be held at New Orleans on the 12th of April, in memory of the Katrina victims. The two other concerts in USA will be in New York and Los Angeles. The artist is next expected to tour The Carribean and Brazil for the rest of April before returning to Europe for the third phase of his tour. Concerts will be staged in Strasbourg, London, Stockholm, Brussels and Frankfurt.

The last phase of his tour beginning in June through July will be on his native African soil, with concerts expected to be staged in Lagos, Dakar, Soweto, Abidjan, Yaounde, with the grand concert taking place in Douala on the 12th of July, featuring other celebrated friends singers and groups of Manu Dibango, such as Kassav (the group that invented Zouk), Papa Wemba, Koffi Olimede,

Petit Pays, etc.

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Manu Dibango is credited as the first musician to export the Cameroon genre, Makossa to the rest of the world, with his 1972 single, Soul Makossa music said to be the first disco record . (Source: Jones and Kantonen, 1999. cf. ) .

Beside Makossa, Manu has also played Zouk, blues, Pachanga, Jazz, spirituals, soul and reggae. To say the least, Manu Dibango is an icon of his own-he is a brand himself. His music is unique, usually a fusion of these different genres.

In his 1989 autobiography, ‘Three Kilos of Coffee’, Manu Dibango explained his entry to music trade as a natural phenomenon, saying having been born into a staunch Cameroonian religious family in Douala, he was compelled to sing not only in the church choir, but at home as well, and sooner or later, singing became a way of life even before he could even realize himself. But his horizon at the time was limited to church music only-the only genre of music tolerated at home by his parents. He basically learned how to play secular instruments only in secrecy. When his parents sent him to France to further his studies, he used the occasion as a golden opportunity to improve on his musical skills. Having studied piano, a fellow Cameroon singer introduced him to Jazz, and from there, the skies became his limits. In 1953, he embrassed the saxophone as his favourite instrument, earning him an icon ever since. He sued Michael Jackson in 1983 for stealing his Soul Makossa chorus, “Mama-ko, mama-sa, mama-ma-ko-sa” in his Thriller song , “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin”. The matter was settled out of court, earning him more international fame.

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A success African story, Manu Dibango continue to exert enormous influence on music as a whole.


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