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Thursday, March 26, 2020
It will take us another century to hear a voice like he's.To enjoy a breath that frees. His towering figure made him taller than most men. His big heart seemed to accommodate even the smallest of us. His mastery of the sax and other instruments left us in awe.
I remember asking for a selfie at the Warda Sports complex in 2000, as a young reporter backstage. And he paused and smiled. A true star. Immense yet accessible.
I always remember the 'Aye Africa' video with the jolly Pops playing to and with children of the world.
We grew up with his smooth effortless tunes. That blew through our spirit with the freshness of the Wouri breeze.
The more I listened and understood music, the more I realized that this Pops was more than a tall black happy man. He was a genie with the power to take away our pain.
So when I felt low in Molyko I listened to his music. He played and laughed. Enjoying every bit of it. Making it feel less like work and more of pleasure.
I was on an international flight once and sat next to this young white girl who must have been less than 8. A flight attendant had tucked her in her seat. She was traveling alone. After chatting briefly with this child. I gave her one of my earphones and played her some of his music. She smiled as she listened.
When she asked who was playing. I told her it was the Louis Armstrong of Africa. She was marvelled. And the music did to her what it does to me.
I remember a work visit to Seoul in 2015. Sat with media personalities across the world. They started paying attention to me when I said I covered Boko Haram. An outspoken Ugandan journalist wasn't too impressed. But when he realised what music I listened to. He immediately warmed up to me. And told me how BIG this musician is.
At the end of the trip he surprised me at the farewell lunch. He suggested I speak on behalf of the delegation. Saying I was the youngest but a real leader.
I have never separated with his music since. It is always in my pocket, ears or rucksack.
Thank You. Manu.
Thank You Groovy Pops.