Cultural Percussionist

Manu Dibango Day

Emmanuel N’Djoké Dibango (born 12 December 1933) is a Cameroonian musician and song-writer who plays saxophone and vibraphone. He developed a musical style fusing jazz, funk, and traditional Cameroonian music. His father was a member of the Yabassi ethnic group, though his mother was a Duala. He is best known for his 1972 single “Soul Makossa“.

Dibango was born in Douala, Cameroon. His father, Michel Manfred N’Djoké Dibango, was a civil servant. Son of a farmer, he met his wife travelling by pirogue to her residence, Douala.A literate woman, she was a fashion designer, running her own small business. Both her ethnic group, the Duala, and his, the Yabassi, viewed this union of different ethnic groups with some disdain.

He was a member of the seminal Congolese rumba group, African Jazz, and has collaborated with many other musicians, including Fania All Stars, Fela Kuti, Herbie Hancock, Bill Laswell, Bernie Worrell, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, King Sunny Adé, Don Cherry, and Sly and Robbie. He achieved a considerable following in the UK with a disco hit called “Big Blow”, originally released in 1976 and re-mixed as a 12″ single in 1978 on Island Records. In 1998, he recorded the album CubAfrica with Cuban artist Eliades Ochoa.

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

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