Fans mourn jazz icon Manu Dibango who died of Covid-19

Thursday March 26 2020

Cameroonian Afro-jazz icon Manu Dibango, whose family said he succumbed to the novel coronavirus in France on March 24, 2020. Tributes to him have been flowing, especially on the social media. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP



Tributes have been flowing, especially on the social media, following the death in France of Cameroonian Afro-jazz icon Manu Dibango, whose family said he succumbed to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19).

Dibango died on March 24, 2020 aged 86.

AU Commission Chief Moussa Faki Mahamat said the continent is united in grief.


“Africa united in grief as we learned of the passing on of jazz icon Manu Dibango after complications from Covid-19. May his gentle soul rest in eternal peace,” he tweeted.


The United Nations office in Cameroon said it is celebrating the life and legacy of one of country’s finest artistes.

“He was a great idol and his legacy lives on through the beautiful music he made,” the UN said in a tweet.


In 2015, Michaëlle Jean, then Secretary-General of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, appointed Dibango as the ambassador to the Rio Olympics and Paralympic Games of 2016.

Louise Mushikiwabo, the current secretary-general of the organisation, said the Covid-19 pandemic has stolen “a very valuable man” from La Francophonie, the world, the world of music and Africa.

“Dear Manu, we keep your music, your laughter, and all the happiness that you have given us,” she tweeted.


The acclaimed saxophonist, songwriter and singer, who lived in Paris but regularly visited his native Cameroon, inspired many other artistes and influenced folkloric music lovers to like jazz.

Renowned Benin singer Angélique Kidjo said Dibango has always been there for her, from her beginnings in Paris to a rehearsal just two months ago.

“You (Manu Dibango) are the original giant of African music and a beautiful human being,” she tweeted.


Kenya’s Director of the Permanent Presidential Music Commission Donald Otoyo said Africa and the whole world has lost an icon and a legend, “a musical genius who hugely influenced my love for Afro-jazz and the saxophone.”

“His music shall forever remain in our hearts,” Dr Otoyo said on Twitter.

Christophe Guilhou, the French Ambassador to Cameroon, said Dibango’s death is a huge loss for all.

“A brilliant Cameroonian musician, he has been able to create bridges between the cultures of Africa and the world,” the ambassador tweeted.

Manu Dibango’s family said “his funeral service will be held in strict privacy, and a tribute to his memory will be organised when possible.”

Fans of the Afro-jazz maestro have been encouraged to send their condolences and messages to a dedicated e-mail address – [email protected]