Veteran Afro-jazz musician Manu Dibango died in Paris, France after contracting the new coronavirus (Covid-19), his representatives confirmed. The 86-year-old Cameroonian tested positive for the virus last week on Wednesday.
"He died early this morning in a hospital in the Paris region," his music publisher Thierry Durepaire said. "His funeral service will be held in strict privacy, and a tribute to his memory will be organised when possible," a message on his Facebook page read.
The saxophonist, best known for the 1972 hit "Soul Makossa", is one of the first worldwide stars to die as a result of Covid-19. Dibango's biggest hit was the B-side of a song to support the Cameroon football team in the African Cup of Nations. It was picked up and popularised by New York DJs.
In 2009, he accused Michael Jackson of borrowing one of his hooks for two songs on the legendary "Thriller" album. The matter was later settled in court.
Coronavirus, which has spread across the globe, has claimed more than 16,000 lives and has infected over 380,000 people.
On January 30, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a Global Public Health Emergency. The virus originated in Wuhan, which is the largest city in Central China with a population of over 11 million people. Wuhan was put under lockdown. The World Health Organization (WHO) said cutting off a city as large as Wuhan is "unprecedented in public health history."
According to early estimates by China's National Health Commission (NHC), about 80 percent of those who died were over the age of 60 and 75 percent of them had pre-existing health conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, lung infections and diabetes.
With the spread of the virus across the globe, several countries ordered a complete lockdown.
Tributes poured online early Tuesday for Dibango.
"R.I.P Manu Dibango...words cannot express who you are and what you represent to this country and humanity as a whole . The first of its kind. Gone but never forgotten Rest Easy Big G," one user wrote.
"Manu Dibango, born N'Djoké Dibango an extraordinary musician,songwriter, saxophone player in a unique style fusing african jazz & funk. A true friend..a kind hearted man, i am sorry you left so soon.. we shall miss u ! Our hearts are broken... Africa will miss you," another wrote.