Africa is blessed with a lot of talent from time immemorial. When it comes to music, it has always been a vital ingredient in the culture and tradition of Africans. They celebrate with music and also mourn with it and as well use it in the worship of their gods or deities . That is why the average African is talented musically. However, in the world of professional music, many Africans have been able to exhibit their talents even on the global stage.
Among these personalities that can be referenced as pioneers which laid the foundation for today's musicians are some notable names like Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Hugh Masakela, Miriam Makeba, Yousef Ndour, Manu Dibango, Victor Uwaifo, Ebenezer Obey, Sunny Ade, Osita Osadebe and many others.
Manu Dibango who happens to be the focus of this article is a well known name in the world of music. However there is no way the story of Manu Dibango could be written without the song Soul Makosa. He was born on December 12, 1933 as Emmanuel N'joke Dibango. A Yabassi by tribe in Cameroon. He was a saxophonist and a vibraphone player. He achieved musical fame in the early 1970s when his 'super single' SOUL MAkOSA achieved global acceptance. The song was released in 1972 as the theme song for the African premier event hosted by Cameroon' The African Cup Of Nations'. This was a period in history when the 'King of funk' the number one 'soul brother' James Brown was 'funkifying' the world musically. Even though Cameroon crashed out of the tournament, the global audience did not fail to take notice of the song.
Eventually a famous New York DJ known as David Manusco found a copy of the song in a Brooklyn West Indian store and fell in love with the song. He eventually played the song in his radio show and within a short while, the song became very popular. It became so popular that pundits labelled it as the first disco hit ever. WWW.ELECTRICSOULSHOW.COM reports that over 23 record labels have since reproduced their own versions of the song leading to a situation where there was once 9 different versions of the song at the same time on the US billboard hot 100 chart.
Unfortunately in 2009, there arose a contention between Manu Dibango and the late King of pop , Michael Jackson. The 'bone' was the 'hookline' in the song which was the nonsensical ' ma-mako ma- ma -sa - mako- mako-ssa'
Manu filed a lawsuit against Michael Jackson and Rihanna, claiming that both of them had used his 'hookline' without his permission ,therefore violating his copy right over his intellectual property. For Micheal Jackson ,he used it in the song 'wanna be starting something' in the history making album, thriller. While Rihanna used it in the song ' Don't stop the music'. The mega star, admitted in court that he borrowed the 'hook' and went ahead to settle the case out of court with Dibango. The terms of settlement was not made public but music pundits claimed that million of dollars exchanged hands in the deal.
However in the case with Rihanna, she claimed that she got approval to use the 'hook' from Michael Jackson. Manu filed a lawsuit in a French court against Rihanna including as codefendants Sony music, BMI, EMI and Warner, all that was associated with the production and marketing of the song, claiming 500,000 Euros as damages.
However, the Court rejected his motion on the ground that he has already been dully settled, as Rihanna met his demand to be listed among the right owners in the song.
Dubbed the king of Soul Saxophone, he can be described as a pioneer in his own right ,just as Michael Jackson was instrumental in breaking boundaries. The fame and success of 'Soul Makosa' changed the life of Di Bango forever. In an interview while alive, he said " I was invited by the musical fraternity in the US to play all over the country, suddenly, I was a star"
In 1972, American based Atlantic Records licensed the music from French record label Fiesta. It was the first time an African artiste had sold so many records even though there was reluctance initially on the part of record companies to print many copies of the work. He collaborated with many artistes like, Herbie hancok, Peter Gabriel, Fela Kuti, and Ladysmith Black Mambazo and others.
He died in 24th march 2020 at the age of 86 years as a victim of covid-19.
(Photo credit; Malaysia.newsyahoo.com)
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