The Cameroonian musician Manu Dibango, known for his unique blend of funk, jazz and traditional west African music, died aged 86 in Paris of Covid-19.
It was announced on the saxophone legend’s Facebook page that “deep sadness”, and added: “His funeral service will be held in strict privacy, and a tribute to his memory will be organised when possible.”
He was born in 1933 in, Cameroon. He went to secondary school in France and and it was there that he learnt to play instruments: first the piano, then the saxophone – for which he became most famously known – and vibraphone.
Few people know that “mama-say, mama-sa, ma-makossa” from Michael Jackson’s song Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ was taken from the chorus on Soul Makossa. Dibango won an out of court settlement after taking Jackson to court over the uncredited interpolation.
In his early days in Paris he talked about the discrimination he faced as a performer saying the few black he saw while performing were celebrities like Sugar Ray Robinson and bumping into Louis Armstrong and Count Basie when he went into the cellars of in Paris where black artist were allowed to play made him more at home.