Manu Dibango ( saxophonist)



Name Dibango
Other NamesManu
Date of Birth1933-12-12
Place

Detailed Biography

Manudibango

Extraordinarily versatile, world-class musician, Emmanuel "Manu" N'Djoké Dibango, played almost every style of music you care to mention, soul, reggae, jazz, spirituals, blues, electro but is renowned for his phenomenal saxophone and vibraphone skills. Originally trained in classical piano, he developed a musical style fusing jazz, funk and traditional Cameroonian music. He is best known for his triumphant afrobeat single, Soul Makossa.

He is a member of the Yabassi ethnic group, though his mother was a Duala, his father, Michel Manfred N'Djoké Dibango was a civil servant. The 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 of their ethnic communities viewed the union with some distain. 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."

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 favour of the Douala. However, his family did live in the Yabassi encampment on the Bassa plateau, close to the Wouri River in central Douala. As a child, Dibango attended Protestant church every night for religious education, or nkouaida. He enjoyed studying music there, and reportedly was a fast learner.

In 1941, after being educated at his village school, 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." In 1944, French president Charles de Gaulle chose this school to perform the welcoming ceremonies upon his arrival in Cameroon.

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, Don Cherry, and Sly and Robbie. 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".

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.

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.