Last week we reported that 'Soul Makossa' African jazz icon Manu Dibango had tested positive for COVID-19. Sadly news comes today that the Cameroonian saxophonist, a regular headliner at Ronnie Scott's over the years and an inspiration to such players as UK jazz icon Courtney Pine and rising star Alain Oyono, has died. Dibango was 86.
A statement on the saxophonist's official Facebook page confirms the news in French and English: ''It is with deep sadness that we announce the loss of Manu Dibango, our Papy Groove, who passed away on 24th of March 2020, at 86 years old, further to COVID-19.''
The funky 'Soul Makossa' with its lyrics mostly in duala, a Cameroonian dialect, with the irresistible ma-mako, ma-ma-sa, mako-mako ssa chant, was later incorporated into the coda of the Michael Jackson song 'Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' in the 1980s. (Dibango sued both Jackson and Rihanna who on 'Don't Stop the Music' also was deemed to have made use of his song.) 'Soul Makossa' became Dibango's most enduring and popular composition.