Iconic African jazz musician Manu Dibango is expected in Nairobi in a few weeks’ time, when he will headline Safaricom’s International Jazz Day celebrations on 1st May. This will be his maiden performance on the Safaricom Jazz stage, at a concert that will launch the 2017-2018 Safaricom International Jazz Festival calendar and highlight the role of jazz in uniting people across the globe.

 Dibango was born in Douala, Cameroon in 1933. His most well-known Grammy Award-winning track Soul Makossa topped the charts in 1973 and went on to be sampled by various musicians including the late King of Pop, Michael Jackson, and U.S-based Bajan star Rihanna.

A catalogue of over 40 albums and several film soundtracks to his name is only the tip of the iceberg. Dibango has enjoyed a music career spanning several continents over five decades, during which he has worked with artists such as Herbie Hancock, Bootsy Collins, Bernie Worrel and the late, great Grammy Award nominee – and Safaricom Jazz alum – Hugh Masekela.

“It’s a privilege and a dream come true for us to host Manu Dibango as we kick off the events that will lead up to the 6th edition of the Safaricom International Jazz Festival next year. Not only is he well known and loved world over, he brings to our stage an energy and fire that has been well stoked through a lifetime of passion for jazz, and puts us in the same league as some of the biggest jazz festivals on the continent,” said Bob Collymore, Festival Founder and C.E.O. – Safaricom.

Dibango will be joined by his band – the Soul Makossa Gang – and a sterling line-up of Kenyan jazz artists including: Mwai & The Truth, Afrosync, Edward Parseen & The Different Faces Band, James Gogo, Swahili Jazz Band, Chris Bittok and Eddie Grey. Also set to perform are husband and wife duo Jacob & Kavutha Asiyo, Shamsi Music, Limericks, Mambo Tribe, Ghetto Classics and Nairobi Horns Project, who will be performing with Africa Plus from South Africa.

“This will be a celebration of local jazz talent and an opportunity for us to honour all the Kenyan bands that have been a part of the Safaricom International Jazz Festival on one stage. They have played a big role in making this event what it is today, so it’s only fitting that we celebrate them in this way,” said Mr. Collymore.

Safaricom has a rich history of supporting local music talent over the last 17 years, having invested hundreds of millions of shillings in the industry through concerts, sponsorships, collaborations and more recently, with the launch of its music streaming app SONGA By Safaricom.

In February 2018 the company marked the 5th anniversary of the Safaricom International Jazz Festival, which has since 2014 donated close to KES 40 million shillings in proceeds from the event to the Ghetto Classics music programme. The funds have been used to expand the music programme in low income neighbourhoods in Nairobi and Mombasa, teaching music skills to over 1400 young boys and girls with the aim of nurturing talent and providing them with an alternative source of recreation and income.


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