Cameroonian saxophonist Manu Dibango dies of coronavirus

By Jeune Afrique

Posted on Tuesday, 24 March 2020 10:28
Manu Dibango during a concert in Paris
Manu Dibango during a concert in Paris, in January 2018. Christophe Ena/AP/SIPA

At the age of 86, Manu Dibango had contracted the coronavirus. It was the family of the legendary Cameroonian saxophonist, an emblematic figure on the African music scene, who announced the news.

“Dear parents, dear friends, dear fans, a voice from afar…”

In a short message published on social networks, the family of the Cameroonian jazz legend announced the death of the musician. “It is with deep sadness that we announce the death of Manu Dibango, our Grandpa Groove, on March 24, 2020 at the age of 86, from the consequences of Covid-19,” the text reads.

The artist’s funeral will take place “in strict family privacy”, but “a tribute will be paid to him later as soon as possible,” say Manu Dibango’s relatives, who encourage fans to send their condolences and messages to a dedicated e-mail address:

Manu Dibango had recently been hospitalized for several days after showing signs of coronavirus. Tests proved positive at Covid-19, but the artist’s relatives said just a few days ago that the artist was resting and “recovering in serenity”.

Head full of projects

“He looks forward to seeing you soon and asks you, in these troubled times we are all going through, to take good care of yourself,” the statement concluded.

Last October, this great figure of African music returned to speak to sister publication Jeune Afrique after more than sixty years of an intense and exceptional career. Having just completed a major Afro-European tour, he said he had a number of projects in mind.

READ MORE Manu Dibango on Michael Jackson

“I want to do something with nothing but African instruments… I’ve already met a young man, Adama Bilorou, who plays the chromatic balafon and with whom I want to do this project. I also want to take up African standards again with a Cameroonian tam-tam player who’s initiated in the transmission of messages… And an audiovisual recording of the “symphonic safari” should also be made,” he confided at the time.


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