Manu Dibango: African saxophone legend dies of Covid-19

a child raised in the ‘Hallelujah’ has died

one of the first BIG dance tunes of my youth was ‘Soul Makossa’ in 1972. It was played on repeat in clubs and the radio in Belgium, France, everywhere. And it still packs floors. Such a timeless Afro-groove, what a great musician Manu Dibango was. So sad to know that he is the first musician to die from the Covid-19 virus. Such a loss. Manu Dibango (born December 12th, 1933, Douala, Cameroon-died March 24th, 2020, in Paris, France) RIP.

see also Blue Elephant -Manu Dibango 1974

Manu Dibango -OST ‘How To Make Love To A Negro Without Getting Tired’ 1989

Manu Dibango vs Chateau Flight -Soul Fiesta

Dig the Latin bag, bro!

Emmanuel N"Djoke Dibango, known as Manu Dibango performs during his concert at the Ivory Hotel Abidjan in 2018

The African saxophone legend Manu Dibango has died in Paris after catching coronavirus.

Dibango – best known for his 1972 hit Soul Makossa – is one of the first global stars to die from Covid-19.

The 86-year-old fused jazz and funk music with traditional sounds from his home country, Cameroon.

He collaborated with numerous artists over a long career, including US pianist Herbie Hancock and Nigeria’s Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti.

The Cameroonian musician filed a lawsuit in 2009 saying Michael Jackson had stolen a hook from his song, Soul Makossa, for two tracks on the world’s best-selling album, Thriller. Jackson settled the case out of court.Media captionManu Dibango speaks about some of his memorable outings

“It is with deep sadness that we announce you the loss of Manu Dibango, our Papy Groove,” a statement on his official Facebook page read.

His funeral will take place in “strict privacy”, the statement read, asking instead for people to send condolences by email and adding that a tribute will be arranged “when possible”.

Top African musicians Angelique Kidjo and Youssou Ndour have led the tributes.

‘Giant of African music’

On Twitter, Kidjo shared a video, recorded two months ago, of her rehearsing the end of Soul Makossa with Dibango.

“You’re the original giant of African music and a beautiful human being,” the Beninois performer wrote.

Twitter post by @angeliquekidjo: VerifiedDear #ManuDibango, you’ve always been there for me from my beginnings in Paris to this rehearsal just 2 months ago! You re the original Giant of African Music and a beautiful human being. This coda of #SoulMakossa is for you!

Ndour called the Cameroonian a “genius” on the saxophone and described him as a “big brother, a pride for Cameroon and all of Africa”.

Both Ndour and Kidjo, along with other stars such as Salif Keita, Papa Wemba and King Sunny Ade, worked on Dibango’s 1994 album Wakafrika.

Speaking to the BBC in 2013 about how he wanted to be remembered, Dibango said: “When you are gone, it is finished, it is not up to me to say, ‘I want this.'”

Archive shot of Manu Dibango
Image captionManu Dibango, seen here in 1970, drew on a wide range of musical influences

Born in the Cameroonian city of Douala in 1933, which at the time was under French colonial rule, Dibango’s musical career spanned across more than six decades.

‘Raised in the Hallelujah’

He grew up in a religious Protestant family, the AFP news agency reports, and his first musical influences came from the church.

“I’m a child raised in the ‘Hallelujah’,” he is quoted as saying.

But he drew on many influences and was well known for his eclectic style.

“I play different kinds of music before playing my own. I think that that’s very important to play other people’s music,” he told the BBC in 2017.

“As you are African they expect you always to play African. Forget that. You’re not a musician because you’re African. You’re a musician because you are musician. Coming from Africa, but first, musician.”

Manu Dibango
Image captionDibango failed his high school exams after being distracted by music

He was sent to high school in France, which is where he learnt to play the saxophone.

The first tune he performed, in front of fellow students, was When the Saints Go Marching In, he told the BBC.

To the disappointment of his father, Dibango failed his high school exams and took up music performing in nightclubs in Belgium instead, AFP reports.

source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-52017834?fbclid=IwAR2r0uLDS2rCJiAxKCFqF95c7CHHUnwXhP9gfLeL3E1pCeK2X05g01KCwJs

post 150-Chimurenga & Ntone Edjabe -how an individual can make a difference

Ntone Edjabe with the Prince Claus Fund price - capital photos

South African resident writer, poet and DJ Ntone Edjabe was awarded with the prestigious Prince Claus Award during a presentation at the Royal Palace in Amsterdam on Wednesday, Dec. 14 2011.

He is now the proud winner of 100,000 Euros. It’s the icing on the cake, because the fund was supporting the South African already for some time.

Edjabe:
“For the first time we had a donor, not one who immediately demanded that we would help the malnourished children first . We could just keep making art. And we do. “

Ntone Edjabe with the Royal Family - capital photos

Her Majesty the Queen and Their Royal Highnesses the Prince of Orange, Princess Máxima, Prince Friso, Princess Mabel, Prince Constantijn and Princess Laurentien attended the presentation of the Prince Claus Awards at the Royal Palace in Amsterdam on Wednesday, Dec. 14 . His Royal Highness Prince Constantijn awarded the prize of the first Pan-African magazine Chimurenga, which plays an important role in breaking taboos on the African continent. Ten other artists, thinkers, journalists and organizations including Tibet / China, Zimbabwe and Kazakhstan, were also honored for their commitment to culture and development. The Prince Claus Fund stimulates and protects all of 15 years culture and freedom of expression in the developing countries.

 

Chimurenga is an innovative, Pan African, cultural platform based in South Africa founded by Ntone Edjabe (1970, Douala, Cameroon), a writer and DJ, who attended the University of Lagos but was ‘educated’ by Nigerian musician and radical thinker Fela Kuti.

Edjabe relocated to Cape Town in 1993 and set up the Pan African Market as a space for a free flow of ideas and projects in a context marred by xenophobia. In 2002 he launched the Chimurenga magazine to stimulate original perspectives on the contemporary African experience. It offers fresh interpretations, analyses, poetry, experimental texts and visual materials by leading creative thinkers and radical practitioners in a multiplicity of disciplines from Africa and elsewhere.

Its titles include ‘Music is The Weapon’, ‘Futbol, Politricks and Ostentatious Cripples’, ‘Black Gays and Mugabes’ and ‘The Curriculum is Everything’. Chimurenga magazine’s 2,500 print-run is distributed to enthusiastic followers in African countries and internationally. Selected articles are posted on Chimurenga’s website and available as ‘pocket literature’. Making strategic use of media and collaborations, Chimurenga’s activities include two editions of the Pan African Space Station, a 30-day series of performances and radio broadcasts expanding notions of African music.

The Chimurenga Library, a unique collection of independent African cultural periodicals, is accessible online and tours as an exhibition. Chimurenga Sessions are interventions in public spaces, one notable example being a demonstration of the politics of archiving in Cape Town’s Public Library indicating connections between conventionally quarantined classes of knowledge. Chimurenga co-produces: the biennial African Cities Reader, re-interpreting urban forms, with the University of Cape Town’s African Centre for Cities; the Chimurenga Chronicle, re-examining the xenophobic violence of 2008 in a global context, with Kenya’s Kwani Trust and Nigeria’s Cassava Republic Press; and Pilgrimages, an attempt to counter media distortions through literary authors, with the Chinua Achebe Centre for African Writers and Artists.

Chimurenga’s network of cutting-edge contributors has gained an audience that includes public intellectuals, social leaders and activists who are instrumental in shaping Africa’s trajectory. Ntone Edjabe and Chimurenga are honoured for the outstanding quality, originality and impact of their productions, for challenging established definitions and segregations of knowledge and expression, for stimulating Pan African culture and development in a global context of rising xenophobia, and for their unwavering commitment to intellectual autonomy, diversity and freedom.

source Prince Clause Fund website / NRC Handelsblad 14 December 2011

see also this related post on ‘Staffrider’, an early alternative South African independent magazine

Manu Dibango vs Chateau Flight -Soul Fiesta

‘Soul Fiesta’,  originally recorded by Manu Dibango and re-released in 2002 on the French label Versatile Records as a remix by hot Parisian producers team Chateau Flight. Strangely enough I cannot locate the original song  in my album collection of Manu Dibango. Or even 45’s.  Can anyone shine a light in what year  ‘Soul Fiesta’ originally came out?? On which label? Was it French Fiesta? Your input is appreciated…

….thanks to reader Afrikola for the following update; ‘…This came out on the album ‘Afrodelic’ as Fiesta 360.058 in 1973 and got re-released on Hi&Fly Records, H&F 0019 in 2006′.

Manu Dibango Soul Fiesta original version

This 12″ features  a full rhythm mix + this version without drums

Manu Dibango -Soul Fiesta Chateau Flight Rmx No Drumz Mix instrumental 


Yuletide Griots Riot

last Christmas my review and mix of the past year represented the fertile music of South Africa, this year Soul Safari criss-crosses the whole continent in search of music treasures.

From Sub-Saharan Africa up to Algeria, with the accent on the stringed instrument; guitar, cora, the oud, sekhankula and the Nguni string bow. And poetic stories, in words and mood.

Traditional griot music meets the seductive charm from Algeria, cora from Senegal by Bakary Sissoko and Daouda Diabaté blends seamlessly with pure guitar poetry from Francis Bebey…a Nguni Christmas song by Princess Constance Magogo, jazz & happy Jive from South Africa, Congolese soukous and  rhumba by Orchestre Loga, Nigerian juju dub from Dele Abiodun.

A surprising discovery this year was this album from 1984, ‘Très Fâché, Très Fâché‘ by guitar player and singer Rémi Sah’lomon et Le Matanga from Brazzaville, Congo. Rémi was bassist, singer of varieties, arranger of the National Youth Orchestra of Congo, and at the same time the second bassist in L’ Orchestra Bantou. He made his debut in L’Orchestra Siza Kotoko Ya Gaby. Great soukous tracks on this album!

A selection of  recent finds from the past year mixed with a few timeless classics from the Soul Safari archives. Now, what more can one wish for the Yuletide season?

01. Francis Bebey -Jesu, que ma joie demeure

02. P. Ben Mouhamed & M. Idir -A Vava Inou Va

03. Bakary Sissoko & Daouda Diabaté -Diaka

04. Princess Constance Magogo KaDinuzulu -Bambulal’ uJesu yamaJuda (The Crucified Jesus of the Jews)

05. Raisse Omar Ouhrouche -M’sak Salkhir Awali Ghetella Nite

06. Remi Sah’lomon et le Matanga -Africa Matanga

07. Akendenuge -Aiyan

08. Vicky & L’Orchestre OK Jazz -Mwana Ponaka

09. Opic 17 -Orchestre Lago -Okoyoka Eloko Pona Zuwa

10. Mthunzini Girls -Uyangibiza

11. Elias Mathebula & The Chivani Sisters -Ntela A Tingangeni

12. Izintombi Zesi Manje Manje -Omzala Bakho

13. Dele Abiodun -Confrontation Adawa Super Dub

Yuletide Griots Riot / DivShare

Happy Holidays!

best wishes for the Yuletide season from Soul Safari

Blue Elephant -Manu Dibango 1974

in my previous post on the Blue Elephant label I promised to highlight the Manu Dibango album (BE 877 041).  A few readers reacted eagerly to see and hear more, so here it is.

For some mysterious reasons the same album got a release on Pink Elephant (PE 877 068) as well. It is self-titled and the songs were recorded in Paris at the Sofrason Studios in 1973. Parts of this album originally appeared as the album “Makossa Man” (Fiesta 360 048, France) while “Pepe Soup” was added to the US release with the same title.  The Dutch release on Blue Elephant has  “New Bell”, “O Boso” as extra additions and a few other alternative tracks which make this album quite unique.

Manu Dibango album  Blue Elephant(BE 877 041)

side 1

1. New Bell

2. Pepe Soup

3. Sango Pous Pous

4. Mwassa Makossa

5. Ashiko Go

side 2

1. O Boso

2. Weya

3. Dangwa

4. Senga

5. Soul Makossa

All titles by Manu Dibango. Produced by J.P.Martin. Original Sofrason Recording 1973. Released in Holland 1974.

Manu Dibango -OST ‘How To Make Love To A Negro Without Getting Tired’ 1989


This movie has it all: Interracial Sex, Female Nudity, A Very Long Title, Suicide Attempt, Profanity In Title and above all a script that is racistic, xenophobic, politically incorrect… but the soundtrack is a superb blend of Afro-Beat and atmospheric collages.

The Canadian production ‘How to Make Love to a Negro Without Getting Tired’ (Comment faire l’amour avec un nègre sans se fatiguer)  is based on the book by Dany Laferrière written in 1985. Today the film is as fresh and relevant as when it first premiered in 1989. With raunchy humor and a working-class intellectualism, Laferrière’s narrator wanders the slums of Montreal, has sex with white women, and writes a book to save his life. Racial and sexual politics collide in this cult classic that launched Laferrière as one of North America’s finest literary provocateurs like Jack Kerouac, Henry Miller, James Baldwin and Charles Bukowski.

Manu Dibango wrote a number of spherical snapshots and a few strong songs that are good to listen to without the accompanying images.

Manu Dibango -Lokobobe

Moreover, it is not his first soundtrack. In 1977 Manu composed music for the following films; ‘L’Herbe Sauvage’ (Ivory Coast), ‘Ceddo’ (Senegal), ‘Le Prix De La Liberté’ (Cameroun) and in 1987 he contributed his music to ‘Les Keufs’,  a French film by Josiane Balasko.

Manu Dibango -Bolingo City

Manu Dibango, born Emmanuel Dibango N’Djoké on 12 December 1933 in Douala, Cameroon) is a Cameroonian saxophonist and vibraphone player. He developed a musical style fusing jazz, funk and traditional Cameroonian music. His sound is a vision of the future; Afro-electro-funk-style. Manu defines himself as an African European. See also my previous post on Manu Dibango here

For  recent releases, concert dates and more info check Manu Dibango’s offical website.