2020 has robbed us of some of Africa’s greatest stars. Some have died due to Coronavirus and some due to various terminal illnesses.
The year started out with the untimely death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant alongside his teenage daughter Gianna as well as 7 others after a helicopter crash as reported by The Sauce. Then came the death of Glee actress Naya Rivera who drowned in Lake Piru while on vacation with her four-year-old son Jack Dorsey. The death of Black Panther actor Chadwick Boseman due to Colon cancer shook the world. The passing of Argentine football legend Diego Maradona popularly referred to as ‘The hand of God’ had football enthusiasts worldwide in mourning.
Moving on the sons and daughters of the soil who have gone on before us, here are some of the African personalities who have died this year.
Saxophone maestro Manu Dibango died in Paris after catching Coronavirus on March 24, 2020. The 86-year-old fused jazz and funk music with traditional sounds from his home country, Cameroon. Dibango’s musical career spanned over more than six decades. The music icon tested positive for Coronavirus on March 18th, 2020 and a statement from his Facebook page assured fans that he was doing well and resting. As reported by The Sauce Dibango was best known for his 1972 song ‘Soul Makossa’ and was one of the first global stars to die from Covid-19.
Popular Kenyan TV actor Papa Shirandula, whose real name is Charles Bukeko, died on July 18th, 2020 from COVID-19 as reported by The Sauce. His family said he passed on at Karen Hospital where he was rushed for emergency treatment after experiencing breathing difficulties. The late renowned actor Papa Shirandula catapulted to fame with the rise of the Citizen TV drama titled ‘Papa Shirandula’ where he played the role of a security guard.
West African music star Mory Kanté aged 70 known for hits like Yéké Yéké died in a hospital in Guinea on the 22nd of May 2020. As reported by The Sauce, his son Balla Kante said his father’s death was the result of untreated health problems, he revealed. “He suffered from chronic illnesses and often traveled to France for treatment but that was no longer possible with the coronavirus,” he added. Kante’s international success came in 1988 when he released his album Akwaba Beach, which includes Yéké Yéké. Millions of copies of Yéké Yéké were sold and Akwaba Beach became the best-selling African album of that time.
Flamboyant gospel star Papa Dennis fell to his death on the 7th of February 2020 as reported by The Sauce. Papa Dennis’ body was found on the roadside in Pangani, Nairobi after he jumped from the 7th floor of a nearby building. The award-winning musician was said to have been depressed after going broke and committed suicide that fateful Friday night. Papa Dennis, whose real name is Dennis Mwangi, was born and raised in Matunda, Kakamega County. He has a twin brother whose name is Simon Mwangi. The gospel singer’s career was a bit controversial as he even worked with secular artists.
Nomasonto Maswanganyi, popularly known as Mshoza, was dubbed the Queen of Kwaito for taking on a male-dominated genre. The 37-year-old was known for her hit song Kortes. Mshoza died of complications from diabetes on the 19th of November 2020.
Famed comedian Ben Maurice known by his stage moniker Othuol Othuol passed away on the 11th of October 2020 after battling health complications. As reported by The Sauce comic who graced television screens on the show ‘Antie Boss’ succumbed to death after a fortnight in Kenyatta National Hospital. His health deteriorated due to a brain tumor and kidney complications. Last year his health also suffered after being diagnosed with Tuberculosis. In a past interview, Othuol noted that his health woes drained his pockets, due to costly treatment.
Nikita Pearl Waligwa
Nikita Pearl Waligwa was a young Ugandan actress who, unfortunately, passed on in February of 2020 due to a brain tumor. She starred in the 2016 Disney film, ‘Queen of Katwe’. The film starred Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o as her mother and British-Nigerian actor David Oyelowo as her chess teacher. She was only 15 years old.
Kassongo wa Kanema
Veteran Nairobi-based Congolese musician Kassongo wa Kanema died on the 14th of April 2020. The former leader of the legendary group Super Mazembe collapsed and died at his Lang’ata home in Nairobi. As reported by The Sauce his son and former Camp Mulla rapper Shappaman confirmed the news on his Instagram page with a vow not to let him down. Kassongo, who was in his mid-60s, was recuperating from a mild stroke he suffered from a few years ago. Super Mazembe’s biggest hit was the song ‘Shauri Yako’, a cover song originally performed by Nguashi Ntimbo and Festival Du Zaire.
Ohangla musician popularly known as Lady Maureen has passed away in July 2020. The songstress died at 3 am on Saturday( 11.07.2020) in Uriri, Migori where she was recuperating after she was discharged from the hospital a week prior, The Sauce reported. Since the beginning of the year, she had been in and out of various hospitals battling different kinds of ailments such as malaria and anemia. In February, Lady Maureen was stranded at a Kisumu hospital after being discharged. Ms. Nancy Achieng, who was taking care of the musician in the hospital, claimed that the musician’s mother was reluctant to take her in following an earlier family misunderstanding.
Congolese singer Aurlus Mabele who was called ‘the king of soukous,’ the energetic dance hall music that blends traditional African and Caribbean rhythms with pop and soul, died in March 2020 in Paris, France. He was 66. His death, at a hospital, was confirmed by his daughter, the singer Liza Monet, who said her father had contracted the coronavirus. He had had a stroke a few years ago and had been in fragile health. He rose to fame across Africa in the 1970s and ’80s with his up-tempo hits and high-wattage performances highlighted by spectacular dance moves. In his early 20s he founded the musical group Les Ndimbola Lokole in Brazzaville, gaining popularity with recordings of songs like ‘Waka Waka’ and ‘Zebola.’
These stars who brought so much joy into our lives maybe gone but not forgotten.