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Crying for return of once vibrant sports-dance mania

IT has been a quiet moment under the serene splendour of an African evening since the unseen horror of coronavirus invaded the continent,disrupting harmony and joy.

It is Africa where sports serve as dance and dances in forms of athletics and acrobatic. The joy of life under the sunlight, vibrant colours, notably green, red and yellow that dominated the continent’s sports arenas is no longer there.

Sports arenas seem to be decaying and even playing fields have become homes to frogs and rodents.

Africa must pay homage to Manu Dibango and Aurlus Mabele (Loketo), who passed away during the peak of coronavirus scare; you will see what the sports-dance craze means or other way watch Jay Jay Okocha spectacular moves to know what it means by sports-dance craze.

He played his football with rhythm and beat that impressed even the King of football Edson Arantes Dos Nascimento Pele.

When it erupted in China and later in European countries like Italy, Spain and England, the majority of Africans ignored it thinking anything associated with influenza can’t be a big threat in the sunny continent like Africa, but the shocking deaths of Manu Dibango and Aurlus Mabele changed everything.

Dibango, who died aged 86 after contracting Covid-19, was the pillar-head of African music who covered a vast spectrum of styles, from traditional African roots music to jazz, soul, Afrobeat, reggae, Congolese rumba and salsa.

Most importantly, he was a founding father of African funk and the good work of his guitarists Slim Pezzin, Charles Lembe and bassist Francis Mpape tell it all in hits like Ah Koh, Afric sans Fric. In 1972 he made his mark with the hit Soul Makossa.

As soon as it was released, as the B-side of a tribute to the Cameroon football team, there were at least five different cover versions in the American charts. Although best known as a saxophonist, Dibango was also a consummate keyboard and vibraphone player and a great arranger, who could get the best from a quartet or a 28-piece orchestra.

As he once said: “What is special is that Africa has a long historical relationship with sound, and a communion between sound and the visual stronger than in any other culture. The sound carries the rhythm and the movement creates the images. The way an African moves compared with the environment is different from the western conception.”

Aurlus Mabele was among the Congolese singers and dancers with a huge following in Tanzania besides the rest of the continent. His up-tempo hits and high-wattage performances were highlighted by spectacular dance moves. He contracted the coronavirus and died in Paris.

Aurlus Mabele, the Congolese singer who was called “the king of soukous,” the energetic dance hall music that blends traditional African and Caribbean rhythms with pop and soul, died on Thursday in Paris. 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 helped start the band Loketo, which means “hips” in Lingala. As the group’s lead singer, Mr. Mabele worked alongside the renowned guitarist Diblo Dibala. Tanzanians, like others from the rest of the continent were scared stiff after the deaths of their music idols.

The situation became worse when the deaths of other prominent figures were announced, most notably the mother of Manchester City Manager Pep Guardiola, while the number of victims who tested positive to the virus and the deaths kept escalating worldwide.

Usually dominated by Simba- Yanga mania, Tanzania‘s dominant colours of opposition; Red for Simba fans and yellow or green for Yanga fans became less seen in streets. It was all quiet in once vibrant Dar es Salaam and the Tanzanian commercial capital looked in a deeply sombre mood.

Seeing shock, despair and confusion President John Magufuli came with a consolation by first removing fear in the hearts of Tanzania by saying the coronavirus threat is decreasing and he was thinking of returning sports activities after holding talks with his health experts and advisors.

The best motivating word he said which brought relief to Tanzanians is that coronavirus is not as threatening as Aids or Ebola. Relieved Tanzanians now expect to start watching Mainland League matches as early as June.

He said on that Sunday in Chato, Geita that he was considering relaxing the measures put owing to Covid-19 and allowing education and sporting activities to resume, saying the coronavirus spread curve is flattening and things look promising.

“We have to remain cautious and ensure we keep praying,” Magufuli said. “Yes, we should continue observing safety measures put in place and not to relax them and the best thing is to remain committed. However, we are seeing an improvement, the cases of infections are going down and we hope it will continue so. “I am also thinking of allowing sports activities to resume, they bring entertainment for Tanzanians, and life has to go on.”

The top tier and all domestic competitions took a break in mid-March to curb the spread of the virus. Simba SC were leading the race with 71 points after 28 matches, followed by Azam FC and Simba SC with 54 and 51 points respectively. There are 10 rounds remaining and Simba need just five wins to be crowned.

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