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Manu Dibango

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Emmanuel "Manu" N'Djoké Dibango (born 12 December 1933) is a Cameroonian saxophonist and vibraphone player. He developed a musical style fusing jazz, funk and traditional Cameroonian music. He is a member of the Yabassi ethnic group, though his mother was a Duala. He is best known for his 1972 afrobeat single "Soul Makossa".


Biography[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Early life[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Dibango was born in DoualaCameroon. His father, Michel Manfred N'Djoké Dibango[2] was a civil servant. The son of a farmer, he met his wife travelling by pirogue to her residence, Douala.[3]A literate woman, she was a fashion designer, running her own small business.[4] Both her ethnicity, the Duala, and his, the Yabassi, viewed this union of different ethnic groups with some disdain.[3] Emmanuel had no siblings, although he had a stepbrother from his father's previous marriage[5] who was four years older than he was.[6] In Cameroon, one's ethnicity is dictated by their fathers, though he wrote in his autobiography, Three Kilos of Coffee, that he has "never been able to identify completely with either of [his] parents."[5]

Dibango's uncle was the leader of his extended family. Upon his death, Dibango's father refused to take over, as he never fully initiated his son into the Yabassi's customs. Throughout his childhood, Dibango slowly forgot the Yabassi language in favor of the Duala. However, his family did live in the Yabassi encampment on the Bassa plateau, close to the Wouri River in central Douala.[5] While a child, Dibango attended Protestant church every night for religious education, or nkouaida. He enjoyed studying music there, and reportedly was a fast learner.[4]

In 1941, after being educated at his village school,[7] Dibango was accepted into a colonial school, near his home, where he learned French. He admired the teacher, whom he described as "an extraordinary draftsman and painter."[8] In 1944, French president Charles de Gaulle chose this school to perform the welcoming ceremonies upon his arrival in Cameroon.[9]

Career[edit source | editbeta]Edit

He was a member of the seminal Congolese rumba group African Jazz, and has collaborated with many other musicians, including Fania All StarsFela KutiHerbie HancockBill Laswell,Bernie WorrellLadysmith Black MambazoDon Cherry, and Sly and Robbie. In 1998 he recorded the album CubAfrica with Cuban artist Eliades Ochoa.

[1][2]Manu Dibango, 2010

The song "Soul Makossa" on the record of the same name contains the lyrics "makossa", which means "(I) dance" in his native tongue, the Cameroonian language, Duala). It has influenced several popular music hits, including Michael Jackson's "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'", as well as his re-recording of that song with Akon, the Fugees' "Cowboys", and Rihanna's "Don't Stop the Music". The 1982 parody song "Boogie In Your Butt" by comedian Eddie Murphy interpolates Soul Makossa's bassline and horn charts while "Butt Naked Booty Bless" by 1990s hip-hop group Poor Righteous Teachers heavily samples its musical bridge and drum patterns.

He served as the first chairman of the Cameroon Music Corporation, with a high profile in disputes about artists' royalties. Dibango was appointed a UNESCO Artist for Peace in 2004.[10][11]

His song "Reggae Makossa" is featured on the soundtrack to the 2006 video game Scarface: The World Is Yours. In August 2009 he played the closing concert at the revived Brecon Jazz Festival.

Discography[edit source | editbeta]Edit

  • Manu Dibango (1968)
  • O Boso (1971) London/PolyGram Records
  • Soma Loba (1972)
  • Soul Makossa (1972) Fiesta Records (France), London Records (UK and Canada), Atlantic Records (US)
  • Africadelic (1973)
  • Makossa Man (1974) Atlantic Records released as Pêpê Soup on Decca Records
  • Makossa Music (1975) Creole Records, licensed from Société Française du Son
  • Countdown At Kusini O.S.T. (1975) D.S.T. Telecommunications, Inc.
  • Manu 76 (1976) Decca/PolyGram Records
  • Super Kumba (1976) Decca/PolyGram Records
  • The World of Manu Dibango (1976) Decca Records
  • Ceddo O.S.T (1977) Fiesta Records
  • L'Herbe Sauvage O.S.T. (1977) Fiesta Records
  • A l'Olympia (1978) Fiesta Records – a live double album
  • Anniversaire Au Pays (1978) Fiesta Records
  • Afrovision (1978) Mango/Island/PolyGram Records
  • Sun Explosion (1978) Decca/PolyGram Records
  • Le Prix De La Liberte (1978) Fiesta Records
  • Big Blow (1978) Derby Records – re-issue of Afrovision with a track from L'Herbe Sauvage OST and the extended single version of the song Soul Makossa
  • Gone Clear (1979) Mango/Island/PolyGram Records
  • Home Made (1979) African Records
  • Ambassador (1981) Mango/Island/PolyGram Records
  • Waka Juju (1982) Polydor/PolyGram Records
  • Mboa (1982) Sonodisc/Afrovision
  • Soft And Sweet (1983) Garima Records
  • Deliverance (1983) AfroVision Records
  • Electric Africa (1985) Celluloid
  • Afrijazzy (1986) Enemy Records
  • Négropolitaines, Vol.1 (1989)
  • Deliverance (1989) Afro Rhythmes
  • Happy Feeling (1989) Stern's
  • Rasta Souvenir (1989) Disque Esperance – a reissue of Gone Clear & Ambassador
  • Polysonik (1992)
  • Live '91 (1994) Stern's Music
  • Wakafrika (1994) Giant/Warner Bros. Records
  • Lamastabastani (1996) Musicrama
  • African Soul – The Very Best Of (1997) Mercury
  • CubAfrica (Cuarteto Patria with Eliades Ochoa) (1998)
  • Mboa' Su – Kamer Feelin' (1999)
  • From Africa (2003) Blue Moon
  • Lion of Africa (2007) – live album including bonus DVD
  • African Woodoo (2008) from tracks recorded between 1971 and 1975 for cinema, TV, and advertising.
  • Choc'n'Soul (2010) features Sly and Robbie
  • Past Present Future (2011) features "Soul Makossa 2.0" with vocals performed by Wayne Beckford
  • Ballad Emotion (2011) (mostly jazz standards)

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