BREATHLESS: In memory of Manu Dibango: 1933-2020). The COLPORTERS of bad news can congratulate themselves on having anticipated the collapse of a GREAT monument. By dint of announcing the rain. DELUGE has arrived. Go fuck yourself. Thus begins my tribute to Dean MANU DIBANGO, because we do not joke with people’s lives, especially in times of illness. Who is eternal?
Friday, December 27, 2019 in the early afternoon, a giant sneaked into the church of Villeneuve Saint-Georges to say goodbye to one of his spiritual sons. I was sitting opposite, my son was on the altar with old African-American friends to pay tribute to the Cameroonian saxophonist KING BLAISE whom the dean MANU saw born and grow. The latter had just arrived from CAMEROON. Despite his age (86) and the fatigue of the trip, he wanted to be there.
At the end of the REQUIEM, we were all gathered in front of the church awaiting the departure of the hearse. Dean MANU DIBANGO approached us to greet us and congratulate my son. A BLOWER cannot resist the sound of another BLOWER. But no one had yet realized who was before them because of its simplicity. “This is the legendary MANU DIBANGO”. Everyone was amazed, because it was up to US to go and greet the dean. It was an opportunity to ask him for his personal telephone number in order to go interview him as part of a documentary film project on jazz. Dean MANU DIBANGO seemed to have no cell phone like me. He asked his biological son M. to give me his contact. I let a month pass by modesty before making an appointment with the dean. But the PROTOCOL prevented me from boxing the HUGE music library that was MANU DIBANGO.
How important was such an interview? Aside from being an EXCELLENT saxophonist, MANU DIBANGO mastered other instruments such as the MARIMBA, the VIBRAPHONE and the PIANO. It was he who accompanied the very late Congolese bolerist FRANKLIN BOUKAKA in his legendary album “LE BUCHERON”. He was also the arranger.
MANU DIBANGO was certainly the best person to talk about CONGOLESE music, he was born in DOUALA. He participated in the recording of the anthem of independence of the R.D.C “INDEPENDANCE CHACHA” by JOSEPH KABASELE, another African musical legend.
But it was at RONNIE SCOTT, the legendary London jazz club, that the dean MANU DIBANGO killed me while interpreting “MORNING GLORY”, a very little known stroll by maestro DUKE ELLINGTON in summer 2001. His musical repertoire was as broad as his smile. ELLINGTONIAN at heart, he often happened to quote “THINGS AIN’T WHAT THEY USED TO BE” while playing Makossa.
The final bouquet may have taken place at UNESCO at the end of APARTHEID when he joined SOWETO STRING QUARTET on stage to perform “NKOSI SIKELELE AFRICA”. It was EXTASE. I will try to console myself.
CAMEROUN, his native country, is said to be AFRICA IN MINIATURE. Without wanting to offend my fellow Cameroonians, I allow myself to correct that it was MANU DIBANGO who really embodied this AFRICA IN MINIATURE.
Former musical director of the orchestra of RADIO TELEVISION NATIONALE IVOIRIENNE, companion of the legendary FELA ANIKULAPO KUTI to whom he paid a beautiful tribute in “BIG BLOW”, by RAY LEMA, MORI KANTE, MIRIAM MAKEBA, HUGH MASEKELA, PAPA WEMBA. …
Before CORONAVIRUS, people would die. CAUSE and REASON matter little. Only DESTINY can explain DEATH.
My dear DOYEN, I haven’t been able to breathe for a long time. Your DEATH made me breathless. In this period of justified confinement, I did not find better than these verses of ALFRED DE MUSSET to say goodbye to you: “… MAKE A RECENT DEATH AN OLD NEW. SOME NAME ELSEWHERE THAN THE REGRET THE MAN IS CALLED, FROM ALL COUNTRIES, QUICKLY ENOUGH “.
Eternal regrets from my place of containment. RIP.
NGOMBULU YA SANGUI YA MINA BANTU LASCONY