23 June 2017

Gabon: Who's Got the Funk? Ali Bongo's Got the Funk!

French magazine Jeune Afrique has revealed the secrets of some African presidents before they took power, reports Cameroon Info.

One of stories follows the activities of Ali Bongo, President of Gabon. As a young man he dreamt of becoming a music star, following in the footsteps of American funk stars like James Brown. He always surrounded himself with musicians who accompanied the American star, the likes of Fred Wesley and manager Charles Bobbit.

His 1977 album "A Brand New Man" - made when Bongo was 18 - carries funky beats that reminds listeners of James Brown. By this time the future president had already embraced Islam but still went by his birth name, Alain Bongo.

He was then named into his father's cabinet just before he turned 30.

Not being able to frequent the musical scene anymore, he moved on to being a prolific composer.

After his election to the highest office in the country in 2009, he built a studio in the palace where he made music with his mother Patience Dabany, also a singer, and pianist and jazz musician Frédéric Gassita. On a State visit to Peking in 2016, Chinese President Xi Jinping, whose wife Peng Liyuan also happens to be a singer, played many of Bongo's songs.

Gabon

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