Manu Dibango  

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"One of the most spectacular discotheque records in recent months is a perfect example of the genre: Manu Dibango's "Soul Makossa."--"Discotheque rock '72: Paaaaarty!" (1973) by Vince Aletti

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Manu Dibango (1933 – 2020) was a Cameroonian composer, musician and songwriter best known for his composition "Soul Makossa."

He played saxophone and vibraphone and developed a musical style fusing jazz, funk, and traditional Cameroonian music.


Early life

Dibango was born in Douala, Cameroon. His father, Michel Manfred N'Djoké Dibango, 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. Emmanuel had no siblings, although he had a stepbrother from his father's previous marriage who was four years older than he was. In Cameroon, one's ethnicity is dictated by one's father, though Dibango wrote in his autobiography, Three Kilos of Coffee, that he had "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 Duala. However, his family did live in the Yabassi encampment on the Yabassi plateau, close to the Wouri River in central Douala.

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, 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. At the 16th Annual Grammy Awards in 1974, he was nominated in the categories Best R&B Instrumental Performance and Best Instrumental Composition for "Soul Makossa".

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 popular music hits, including Kool and the Gang's "Jungle Boogie". 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. In July 2014, he made an 80th anniversary concert at Olympia, France which was broadcast by TV5Monde.

In 2009 he filed a lawsuit claiming that Rihanna's and Michael Jackson's "Don't Stop the Music" and "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" used the "Mama-say, mama-sa, ma-ma-ko-ssa" hook without his permission. According to Dibango, the line is from his 1972 single "Soul Makossa". Agence France-Presse reported that Jackson admitted that he borrowed the line for "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin '" and settled out of court. When Rihanna asked Jackson in 2007 for permission to sample the line, he allegedly approved the request without contacting Dibango beforehand. Dibango's attorneys brought the case before a court in Paris, demanding 500,000 in damages and asking for Sony BMG, EMI and Warner Music to be "barred from receiving 'mama-say mama-sa'-related income until the matter is resolved". The judge ruled that Dibango's claim was inadmissible: a year earlier, a different Paris-area judge had required Universal Music to include Dibango's name in the liner notes of future French releases of "Don't Stop the Music", and, at the time of this earlier court appearance, Dibango had withdrawn legal action, thereby waiving his right to seek further damages.

On 8 September 2015, Michaëlle Jean, Secretary General of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, honoured Manu Dibango with the title of Grand Témoin de la Francophonie aux Jeux Olympiques et Paralympiques de Rio 2016 (Special Representative of Francophonia to the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games).

On 24 March 2020, Dibango died from COVID-19.



  • Manu Dibango (1968)
  • Saxy Party (1969)
  • O Boso (1971) London/PolyGram Records
  • Soma Loba (1971)
  • Soul Makossa (1972) Fiesta Records (France), London Records (UK and Canada), Atlantic Records (US)
  • African Voodoo (1972)
  • Africadelic (1973)
  • Blue Elephant (1973)
  • Makossa Man (1974) Atlantic Records released as Pêpê Soup on Decca Records
  • African Funk (1974)
  • Makossa Music (1975) Creole Records, licensed from Société Française du Son
  • African Rhythm Machine (1975)
  • Countdown at Kusini O.S.T. (1975) D.S.T. Telecommunications, Inc.
  • Manu 76 (1976) Decca/PolyGram Records
  • Super Kumba (1976) Decca/PolyGram Records
  • The World of Manu Dibango (1976) Decca Records
  • Ceddo O.S.T (1977) Fiesta Records
  • L'Herbe Sauvage O.S.T. (1977) Fiesta Records
  • Disque D'Or (1977)
  • A l'Olympia (1978) Fiesta Records – a live double album
  • Anniversaire Au Pays (1978) Fiesta Records
  • Afrovision (1978) Mango/Island/PolyGram Records
  • Sun Explosion (1978) Decca/PolyGram Records
  • Le Prix De La Liberte (1978) Fiesta Records
  • Big Blow (1978) Derby Records – re-issue of Afrovision with a track from L'Herbe Sauvage OST and the extended single version of the song Soul Makossa
  • Gone Clear (1979) Mango/Island/PolyGram Records
  • Ses Plus Grands Succes (1979)
  • Home Made (1979) African Records
  • Ambassador (1981) Mango/Island/PolyGram Records
  • Waka Juju (1982) Polydor/PolyGram Records
  • Mboa (1982) Sonodisc/Afrovision
  • Soft And Sweet (1983) Garima Records
  • Deliverance (1983) AfroVision Records
  • Surtension (1984)
  • Electric Africa (1985) Celluloid
  • Afrijazzy (1986) Enemy Records
  • Négropolitaines, Vol.1 (1989)
  • Deliverance (1989) Afro Rhythmes
  • Happy Feeling (1989) Stern's
  • Rasta Souvenir (1989) Disque Esperance – a reissue of Gone Clear & Ambassador (compilation)
  • Polysonik (1991)
  • Bao Bao (1992)
  • Negropolitaines, Vol.2 (1992)
  • Autoportrait (1992)
  • Live '91 (1994) Stern's Music
  • Wakafrika (1994) Fnac Music/Giant/Warner Bros. Records
  • Lamastabastani (1996) Musicrama
  • Sax & Spirituals (1996)
  • Papa Groove: Live '96 (1996)
  • African Soul – The Very Best Of Manu Dibango (1997) Mercury (compilation)
  • Manu Safari (1998)
  • CubAfrica (Cuarteto Patria with Eliades Ochoa) (1998)
  • Mboa' Su – Kamer Feelin' (1999)
  • Collection Legende (1999)
  • Anthology (2000) (compilation)
  • The Very Best of Manu Dibango: Afrosouljazz From The Original Makossa Man (2000) (compilation)
  • Kamer Feelin' (2001)
  • B Sides (2002)
  • Dance With Manu Dibango (2002)
  • Africadelic: The Very Best Of Manu Dibango (2003) (compilation)
  • From Africa (2003) Blue Moon
  • Lion of Africa (2007) – live album including bonus DVD
  • African Woodoo (2008) from tracks recorded between 1971 and 1975 for cinema, TV, and advertising.
  • Choc'n'Soul (2010) features Sly and Robbie
  • Afro Funk (2010)
  • Afro Soul Machine (2011) (compilation)
  • Past Present Future (2011) features "Soul Makossa 2.0" with vocals performed by Wayne Beckford
  • Ballad Emotion (2011) (mostly jazz standards)
  • Africa Boogie (2013)
  • Aloko Party (2013)
  • Lagos Go Slow (2013)
  • Balade En Saxo (2013)

Contributing artist

As sideman

With T-Bone Walker

Linking in as of 2023

11'09"01 September 11, Abeti Masikini, Abou Nidal, Afro rock, Afro-soul, All Africa Music Awards, Angélique Kidjo, Angélique Kidjo, Anne-Marie Nzié, Antonio Breschi, Armand Sabal-Lecco, Arnold Sowinski, As the World Burns, Ashley Maher, Awilo Longomba, Baba Sissoko, Bamileke people, Barry Rogers, Bébé Manga, Beethova Obas, Bella Bellow, Bernard Lubat, Bernard Torelli, Biko (song), Bill Laswell discography, Break (music), Brecon Jazz Festival, Cameroon, Ceddo, Celluloid Records, Charlotte Dipanda, Château-Thierry, Cheikh Lô, Chip Monck, Chuck Cleaver, Coco Argentée, Coco Mbassi, Congolese rumba, Cornelius Macarthy, Countdown at Kusini, Cristal Baschet, Crooklyn (soundtrack), Cuarteto Patria, Danielle Eog Makedah, Dark Matter Moving at the Speed of Light, David Lewis (Australian musician), Deconstruction: The Celluloid Recordings, Denys Baptiste, Didier Malherbe, Disco, Djeli Moussa Diawara, Dominic Miller, Don't Stop the Music (Rihanna song), Douala, Down by Law (Deadline album), Ed Byrne (musician), Enemy Records, Ernesto Djédjé, Éternel insatisfait, Everybody Hurts (The Sopranos), Extinction Level Event: The Final World Front, Feelin' So Good, Félix Sabal Lecco (musician), Festival Jazz à Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Fête de l'Humanité, Forty Deuce, Francis Bebey, Franck Biyong, Frankie Crocker, French frigate Chevalier Paul, Georges Arvanitas, Gettin' Jiggy wit It, Gianluca Petrella, Giant Records (Warner), Glastonbury Festival line-ups, Good Feelin', Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition, Grammy Award for Best R&B Instrumental Performance, Hal Singer, Henri Dikongué, Homecoming: The Live Album, How to Make Love to a Negro Without Getting Tired, In My Lifetime, Vol. 1, Index of Cameroon-related articles, International Jazz Day, Inusa Dawuda, Island Records discography, Jeff Bhasker, John Matarazzo discography, Jovanotti discography, Kaïssa, Kékélé, King Sunny Adé, Kirikou and the Wild Beasts, Knowledge Is King, Koffi Olomide, Kokolo Afrobeat Orchestra, Lady Cops, Lafayette Afro Rock Band, Language Barrier (album), Le Grand Kallé et l'African Jazz, Le Grand Kallé, Le Métèque, Les Nouvelles Polyphonies Corses, List of Cameroonian musicians, List of Cameroonians, List of funk musicians, List of Mercury Records artists, List of Rough Guide albums, List of saxophonists, List of songs about Paris, List of songs recorded by Kanye West, List of songs written by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, List of Unsung episodes, List of vibraphonists, List of Warner Records artists, Lokua Kanza, Lorenzo 2015 CC., Lost in the World, Lou Marini, Luanda International Jazz Festival, Makossa, Maladie d'amour (song), Mamadou Konte, Manou Gallo, March 24, Martin Meissonnier, Masaladosa, Material discography, Miss Dominique, Moreira Chonguiça, Muntu Valdo, Music of Cameroon, Music of Ivory Coast, Music of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Music of Togo, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, My Voice (film), Negash Ali, Nicky Skopelitis, Nicolas Kummert, Orchestre Stukas, Papa Wemba, Paris Combo, Paris Jazz Festival, Past, Present, Future, Pata Pata, Peter Gabriel discography, Poplife Presents: Poplife Sucks, Raïna Raï, Rakoto Frah, Red Hot + Riot: The Music and Spirit of Fela Kuti, Rhythm Killers, Richard Bona, Robert Chaudenson, Roberto Roena, Rock and Roll Queen (Vinyl), Roots revival, Sarah Maldoror, Saxy Party (redirect page), Sfinks Festival, Shaheera Asante, Simon Emmerson, Sinéad O'Connor discography, Sonet Records, Soul Makossa (album) (redirect page), Soul Makossa, Soul Power (film), Spin Alternative Record Guide, Stade de France, Starvation/Tam Tam Pour L'Ethiopie, Stéphane Pocrain, Steven Machat, Syran Mbenza, Tabarka Jazz Festival, Terri Quaye, The Lion Sleeps Tonight, The Loft (New York City), The Rough Guide to African Disco, The Rumble in the Jungle, Them Mushrooms, Timeline of music in the United States (1970–present), Tony Allen (musician), Toun Okewale Sonaiya, Unwired: Acoustic Music from Around the World, Vaya con Dios (song), Victoires de la Musique, Vincent Nguini, Volume 3: Further in Time, Voyage (band), Wally Badarou, Wanna Be Startin' Somethin', Werrason, WOMAD Charlton Park, World music, World Psychedelic Classics, Vol. 3: Love's a Real Thing, Xavier Desandre Navarre, Yasuaki Shimizu, Yinka Davies, Yolanda Be Cool

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