African music star Mory Kanté, who has a share in bringing African music to the world audience, has died in Guinea, aged 70.
According to his son Balla Kanté, his father died in Guinea’s capital Conakry due to “untreated health problems.”
Balla revealed that his father had been to and from France to receive medication but was unable this time because of the coronavirus travel restrictions.
“He suffered a chronic illness and often traveled to France for treatment, but that was no longer possible with the coronavirus,” he said.
“We saw his condition worsening, but I was still surprised because he had been through much worse times before,” he added.
Mory Kanté was born in a family of harp players and was severally crowned King of kora (Harp) in West Africa.
His song Yeke Yeke hit a massive fanbase and was widely remixed in the 1980s. It was one of the few African songs that gained a worldwide following, creating awareness on African content.
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Veteran musicians led by Senegalese Youssou N’Dour paid tribute to Kanté, referring to him as “baobab of African culture.”
“I have just learned with dismay of the reminder to God of my elder brother Master Mory Kanté. I feel a huge void today with the departure of this baobab of African Culture. Rest in peace,” N’Dour wrote.
Je viens d'apprendre avec consternation le rappel à Dieu de mon frère aîné et référence Maître Mory Kanté. Je ressens un énorme vide aujourd'hui avec le départ de ce baobab de la Culture Africaine. Repose en paix. De ton Frère affligé Youssou Ndour pic.twitter.com/L62RWiEbTh
— YOUSSOU NDOUR (@YoussouNdourSN) May 22, 2020
Guinean President Alpha Condé said on his Twitter account that Africa was mourning Kanté’s “exceptional” career.
“African culture is in mourning. My most sad condolences. Thank you, artist. An exceptional course,” he said.
— Alpha CONDÉ (@alphacondepresi) May 22, 2020
Kante’s death comes just a month after the demise of Cameroonian Manu Dibango who succumbed to coronavirus.