He was born Emmanuel N’Djoké Dibango in the Cameroonian port city of Douala on Dec. 12, 1933, and learned to play saxophone and vibraphone in addition to writing songs. His music, which incorporated jazz, funk and traditional Cameroonian sounds, failed to capture local attention, and he moved to France where he gained international recognition.
Released in 1972, “Soul Makossa” became an international hit. Its “Mama-say, mama-sa, ma-ma-ko-ssa” hook — which means “I dance” in the Duala language — was sampled by pop stars including Michael Jackson and Rihanna.
Mr. Dibango filed a lawsuit against the two artists in 2009, arguing that they had used the hook without this permission. The motion was rejected by a court in Paris because he had already successfully applied for his name to be mentioned on Rihanna’s releases of the song.
Mr. Dibango was a member of the seminal Congolese rumba group African Jazz and well-known for his collaborations with the late Nigerian Afrobeat star Fela Kuti, Nigerian guitarist King Sunny Adé and South African gospel group Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
Mr. Dibango achieved a considerable following in England with the disco hit “Big Blow,” and in 1998 he recorded the album “CubAfrica” with Cuban artist Eliades Ochoa.
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