Manu Dibango rocks Nairobi at #KorogaFestival

Manu Dibango
Manu Dibango

Manu Dibango was the headline act at this month’s edition of the Koroga Festival hosted at the Arboretum Grounds on Sunday 8th May 2016.

I’m a huge fan of the Koroga Festival which is hosted on the first Sunday of every second month in Nairobi. The organisers usually fly in an international music act from another African country to perform alongside well known Kenyan acts. I have been to quite a few and even blogged my experience about the live music event when singers like Simphiwe Dana and Oliver Mtukudzi gave us music one will rarely hear played live in Nairobi.

This Sunday, the headline act was set to be Manu Dibango the Cameroonian musician who has been performing to sellout audiences all over the world for over half a century. This is a man whose song Soul Makossa was so big that Michael Jackson famously paraphrased it in the recurring phrase “ma-ma say, ma-ma sa, ma ma-coo-sa” at the end of his 1982 release “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’.”

In his career, Dibango has worked with everyone in the business you can imagine and the list is diverse. They include pianist Herbie Hancock (USA), trumpeter Hugh Masekela (South African), Youssou N’Dour (Senegal), King Sunny Ade (Nigeria), Salif Keita (Mali), Angélique Kidjo (Benin), Ladysmith Black Mambazo (South Africa) and a hell of a lot more. If there was a serious artist, this guy has worked with them.

The day of the concert was very cool. The night before had been a wet affair so concert goers were advised to go with closed shoes and some warm clothing. So we all walk into the venue, get tagged and there are X-News newspaper being handed out to concert goers aggressively. What was that about I wondered?

We all walked in and got to enjoy the two aspects of the Koroga Festival as all acknowledge; the social and the music side. On the social side, I was catching up with a helluva lot of people who I hadn’t seen in yonks. I have to admit that this is one of the spaces where you meet folks in an open and convivial environment as you partake of drinks and snacks with family.

The music side of the evening was even better. We were wowed by singing by June Gachui and saxophoning by Parseen Edward who were joined on stage by the ever popular Kaz. I knew that Maurice Kirya the Ugandan singer was around when the ladies I was chatting to suddenly up and left me at a table alone looking like a dummy. I’m looking at you and your crew, Njeri.

The highlight of the show was Manu Dibango of course. Here was the 82 year old singer with his multicultural band as they blasted hit after hit new and old. The audience was a bit of a Nairobi audience, they know the name and want to see him live but they didn’t know his songs. They weren’t his true fans but those who loved him joined those who were here for the ambience and had an epic afternoon.

Who’s next team Koroga? All photos used in this post are courtesy of the team at Koroga. Thank you.

June Gachui
June Gachui
Parseen Edward
Parseen Edward
Maurice Kirya
Maurice Kirya