b. Elizabeth Prudence Manga Bessem, 1948, Mante, Cameroon. Vocalist Manga was already well known in Cameroon and Gabon before she moved to Paris in 1980 and recorded her classic debut album, a tough mix of makossa, funk and soukous musics. The title track sold over one million copies on single release and spawned over 50 cover versions, including the 1985 club hit by Nyanka Bell. Manga had taught herself music before embarking on a professional career in 1973, singing in Douala nightclubs. She settled in Gabon for a while, matching native folk songs with European ballads. During her time in Paris she also toured widely, including stays in the Caribbean and Japan. The success of ‘Arnie’ (written by Ebanda Alfred of Les Camaroes) led to the award of the French ‘Maracas D’Or’ in 1983. A move to New York followed later that year, from where she intended to further her international breakthrough. The attempt came to nothing, and Manga has faded into semi-obscurity since, though she is still active in Cameroon.
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