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The Country That Made Africa Dance In The 1980s and 1990s

Updated: Nov 21, 2023

Cameroon, often hailed as Africa in miniature or the citadel of African music, stands as a nation rich in diversity, boasting 250 ethnicities and languages. This vibrant tapestry births an array of rhythmic dances and a kaleidoscope of traditional music genres.

Amidst this sonic landscape, one particular sound reverberated not only within Africa but also found fervent adoration beyond its borders: Makossa. This musical genre, translating to "dance" in Douala – a native language of Cameroon, emerged as the country's most iconic musical export.

In the heyday of the '80s and '90s, Cameroon was a treasure trove of prodigious musical talents, with Makossa reigning supreme, captivating millions of enthusiasts worldwide. Its infectious beats not only dominated Cameroon but also sparked a feverish dance craze across the African continent, defining a golden era of Cameroonian music that set the rhythm for an entire continent.

From the northern reaches to the southern tip, and spanning the vast expanse from west to east, Cameroonian melodies became the soundtrack of Africa. The era birthed legends whose names and tunes resonated deeply with every African, imprinting memories that endure to this day.

While other Cameroonian musical genres like Ben-skin and Mangambeu held their ground, Makossa transcended boundaries, claiming its throne on the global stage.

Modern Makossa emerged in the 1960s, quickly asserting itself as the heartbeat of the nation's music scene. Notably, the legendary saxophonist Manu Dibango propelled Makossa onto the international arena with his 1970s hit "Soul Makossa," marking a historic milestone as the first African song to penetrate the US top 40 charts.

Manu Dibango's impact extended far beyond his chart-topping success; his influence resonated in unexpected places, even inspiring the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, evident in the iconic riff of "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" (1983).

Following in Dibango's illustrious footsteps, a cohort of musicians endeavored to electrify Makossa, elevating its global appeal. This fervor catapulted Makossa into European spheres, embedding its infectious rhythms into diverse musical cultures.

Dibango's legacy continues to echo through the corridors of contemporary music, inspiring artists like Rihanna in "Please Don't Stop the Music" (2009) and collaborations with acclaimed acts like Akon and the Fugees in "Cowboys."

With a nod to this golden age of Cameroonian music, we've curated a collection of beloved artists and songs from that era. Take a nostalgic journey through this musical treasure trove and relish the beats that once made an entire continent dance to their rhythm. Enjoy the playlist.

Click on the title of the song to play the music video

  1. Manu Dibango – Soul Makossa, 1972

  2. Sam Fan Thomas "African Typic Collection", 1984 -This song was such a success that it was played in clubs all over Africa and has inspired many African artists so much that the song has been remixed all over the world. "Zimo"Nelson Mandela ;"Si Tcha

  3. Elvis Kemayo -Africa music

  4. Tom Yoms & Bebey Manga - Na Meya

  5. Pierre Didy Tchakounté - Makeladia

  6. Talla André Marie -Je vais à Yaoundé par Ledoux paradis

  7. BÉBÉ Manga - AmiO

  8. Tom Yoms & Charlotte Mbango -Sengato

  9. Marthe Zambo -Avec toi

  10. Henri Dikongué - C'est La Vie

  11. Charlotte Mbango "Konkai Makossa"

  12. Ben Decca & Grace Decca - Osi dimbea

  13. Prince Eyango -You must calculer

  14. Bebey Black - Désir, plaisir, Souffrir (1985)

  15. Ndedi Dibango- Eyo Mè

  16. Zangalewa - Maladie difficile

  17. Zangalewa - Un Bébé

  18. Grace Decca - Bwanga Bwam (1989)

  19. Dina Bell - Sophie

  20. Tchana Pierre & Tom Yoms - Therese (Age D'or)

  21. Joe Mboule - Osi Linga (1986)

  22. Hoïgen Ekwalla Makossa Size

  23. Sally Nyolo - Tam Tam

  24. Elvis Kemayo - Mama

  25. Pierre Tchana & Orchestre Poly Rhytmo- Il N'est Jamais Trop Tard

  26. Prince nico mbarga - Aki special

  27. Samson- chaud gars Bôlo Cellucam

  28. Nguime Manulo – fundament

  29. Solo Muna - Ma doudou

  30. Toto Guillaume - Mba na na é (1981)

  31. Bill Loko - Nen Lambo (1980)

  32. Guy Lobé - Mon ami à moi

  33. Koko Ateba- ndolam

  34. Henry Njoh-Melodies d'antan

  35. Zangalewa - Waka Waka

  36. Eko Roosevelt : Njuke Bonene (1978) - Badihani (70's)

  37. Ben Decca - Se oa nu.

  38. Sam Mbemde - Alabe

  39. Eboa Lotin - Elimba Dikalo

  40. Axel Mouna - Juventus (1981)

  41. Gilly Ndoumbé - Things Like This (1990 )

  42. Jean Paul Mondo - Sona Papa (1983)

  43. Lapiro De Mbanga - Fogoh Mawoh

  44. Hoïgen Ekwalla - Chat Botté (1988)

  45. Geo Masso - A muto ( 1981)

  46. Sergeo Polo et Njohreur – Le Mari d’autrui

  47. Belka Tobis- Solitude

  48. Njoume Maurice-Maimouna

  49. J-C Mbimbe - Dibumbe (1984)

  50. Petit Pays - Mumi

  51. Abeti Masikini - Je Suis Fachée

  52. Kotto Bass - Concours de patience

After being a huge success in the 80s and 90s, the Cameroonian favorite music has suffered a major setback after a prosperous period in the 1980s and 90s.

Cameroon music is unique and popular worldwide. It is listened and watched all over the world. The growth of social media and communication technologies has helped to bring the music of this country to a broader international community.

Now, with the rise of Afrobeats, it seems that Cameroon music is entering another golden era. There is a new generation of Cameroonian musicians to watch that are making Africa dance once again with their Afrobeats sound. Artists like : Locko ( Je serai là, Sawa romance, Ndutu, Thank you Lord,Let go ), Mr. Leo ( E Go Better, Jamais- Jamais, désole), Salatiel( Qu'est ce qui n'a pas marcher, Rembourser, Anita, comme ça ), Daphne ( ne lâche pas,avec toi , better boyfriend ), Tzy Panchak ( song: Ngueme, Mad 4 Yu' Luv, Na so ), Stanley Enow ( Adore you ), Magasco ( Bella, Calling my driver), of course Charlotte Dipanda ( Cameroonian pop Queen; Sista ,Elle n'a pas vu), Blanche bailey (Mimbayeur ) Gasha (Faya di Burn) ,Joyce Babatunde, Vernyuy Tina, Meshi, Lesline ( My way cover ), Daniela Ahanda ( poser) Kameni ( Kameni Mashup ,Pain killer cover, Mashup2 ), Ambe ( Don't go ,Na For Bafut (Bonne Année), Ewube ( Fall 4 u,Stay), Zinnia( Overload) and Nabila( Ca ira, Tromper).

There are many other artists that are also talented that were not included here, but thanks to YouTube and other social media, you can easily discover their music.

Did you grow up listening to Makossa? Have you heard about this music before? Please comment and share below to spread the Traveler butterfly love! And for more posts like this, don't forget to subscribe.

the country that made African dance


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