Africa's Prominent Coronavirus Deaths
The death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic across Africa is heading towards 500 as of April 7, 2020. The casualties cut across age groups. From the death of a 6-year-old in Kenya, older patients in most instances and persons in the youth bracket.
Whiles each death is reported with a sombre mood and with condolences to affected families, some of the casualties have united a country in grief, in other cases united the continent and people beyond Africa’s borders.
From top politicians – former presidents, prime ministers and lawmakers, to entertainment icons and top sportsmen, the virus has left in its wake prominent casualties who could hardly get the send-off they would have been accorded in “normal times.” This article briefly profiles as many casualties as possible:
Ex-Libyan PM who served after Gaddafi ouster
Mahmud Jibril was a former head of the rebel government that overthrew Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. He died of the coronavirus in an Egyptian hospital, his party confirmed on April 5.
The 68-year-old former Prime Minister was in Cairo where he had been hospitalised for two weeks, said Khaled al-Mrimi, secretary of the Alliance of National Forces party founded by Jibril in 2012.
Reports indicate he was admitted to the hospital on March 21 after suffering a heart attack, before testing positive for the new coronavirus and being quarantined. He served as head of the interim government in March 2011, a few weeks after the outbreak of the Arab Spring uprising in Libya.
Ex-Somali Prime Minister “Nur Adde”
Last week, Somalis united on Twitter to pay tribute to a former Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein, also known as “Nur Adde,” who died of coronavirus in London.
The 82-year-old was prime minister between November 2007 and February 2009. He was a one-time attorney general under the tenure of President Siad Barre who was overthrown in 1991.
He was a police officer who trained as a lawyer, acquaintances hailed him for his hands-on leadership. “We extend our most profound condolences to the Somali people, friends and bereaved family of Somalia’s former Prime Minister, HE Nur Hassan Hussein who passed away in London, UK,” Somali PM posted on Twitter.
BREAKING: Former Somali Prime Minister, Nur Hassan Hussein “Nur Adde” has passed away in London after recently contracting the CoronaVirus, sources. Nur Adde was PM between Nov 2007 and Feb 2009. He was also the President of Somali Red Crescent for many years. He was 82. pic.twitter.com/LEFgB18nPN
— Harun Maruf (@HarunMaruf) April 1, 2020
Senegalese journalist, sports administrator – Pape Diouf
Senegal mourned its first coronavirus death which came with extra pain because it involved an illustious son of the land, journalist and sports administrator, Pape Diouf. The 68-year-old was a former president of French soccer club Marseille between 2005-09.
Authorities confirmed that he had been in intensive care in Dakar. Senegal President Macky Sall wrote on his official Twitter account that he had followed Diouf’s health closely after he was admitted for treatment.
“I pay tribute to this great figure in sport,” Sall wrote. “I pay tribute to the medical staff at Fann Hospital who spared no effort to save him.” Relatives said Diouf was meant to be moved to France. He had recently traveled to several countries in the West Africa region.
Diouf was a charismatic and popular leader who was close to the fans and players at Marseille, the only French team to win the European club title. “Pape will forever remain in the hearts of Marseille people and (is) one of the great architects of the club,” Marseille wrote under a photo of Diouf.
Aurlus Mabele – Congolese ‘King of Soukous’
Over in Central Africa, coronavirus claimed a music star from Congo reputed by his fans as ‘King of soukous’ – a high tempo dance music enjoyed across the continent.
Aurlus Mabélé real name is Aurélien Miatsonama, was from Congo-Brazzaville and moved to France in the 1980s. He died in a Parisian hospital, aged 67. The announcement of his death according to Congolese local news site IciBrazza was first posted by his compatriot Mav Cacharel on Facebook.
“Good evening everyone, I have sad news to announce the death of my famous friend, brother and collaborator Aurlus Mabélé, which happened this Thursday, March 19, 2020 at 14 pm, in the Paris region, from the follow-up of (a) coronavirus (case),” Cacharel’s post read in part.
The deceased’s daughter, singer Liza Monet, also tweeted on Thursday that her father had died of coronavirus. “Thank you for honoring his memory. It is a great legend of the Soukouss that the Congolese people have lost today. I am inconsolable and collapsed,” a translation of her tweet read.
Ex-Congolese president Yhombi-Opango
In late March, a former president of the Republic of Congo died after contracting coronavirus. Jacques Joaquim Yhombi-Opango breathed his last at the age of 81 in a Paris hospital.
His family confirmed that he had underlying health conditions before contracting the virus. Yhombi-Opango was president of Congo-Brazzaville from April 1977 until he was toppled in February 1979 by the current president Denis Sassou Nguesso.
He spent years in prison till the country introduced multi-party democracy in 1991. He served as Prime Minister under the government of Pascal Lissouba between 1992 and 1997, until a civil war broke out in 1997. He went into exile in France, before being allowed to return home 10 years later.
African music icon, Cameroon’s Manu Dibango
Cameroonian Afro-jazz legend, Manu Dibango’s death is one that hit the continent and beyond. The ‘Soul Makossa’ author died at the age of 86. His family disclosed in a Facebook post that the singer and celebrated saxophonist’s death was as a result of the new coronavirus.
Dibango is celebrated for one of the biggest planetary hits in world music, “Soul Makossa” (released in 1972). he was said to be the first global celebrity to die from the virus. He died in a Parisian hospital, manager of his music publishing business, Thierry Durepaire told AFP.
A statement released by the family read: “It is with deep sadness that we announce to you the loss of Manu Dibango, our Papy Groove, who passed away on 24th of March 2020, at 86 years old, due to covid-19.”
Born in 1933 in the city of Douala, he attended church from where he honed his music skills.
Celebrated for a unique blend of jazz, funk and traditional Cameroonian music.
Influenced bands from Kool and the Gang in the 1970s to hip-hop in the 1990s.
Best known for his hit Soul Makossa.
He served as the pioneer chairman of the Cameroon Music Corporation.
UNESCO appointed him Artist for Peace in 2004
Collaborated with artists several artists including Nigeria’s Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti and US pianist Herbie Hancock.
On record to have sued Michael Jackson and Rihanna in 2009, accusing the duo of unlawfully adopting some of his lyrics. He eventually settled out of court.
Mukendi wa Mulumba – top legal aide to DRC president
Still in Central Africa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, President Felix Tshisekedi lost a top legal aide to the virus. Jean-Joseph Mukendi wa Mulumba was the acting head of the president’s legal advisory council. He is believed to have contracted the coronavirus whiles in France for a medical check-up.
Mr Mulumba was a celebrated personality in the country’s harsh opposition terrain. As a reputed lawyer he also championed numerous human rights causes. He was an aide to the president’s father and veteran opposition figure, the late Etienne Tshisekedi.
He also represented opposition politician Moïse Katumbi and others who opposed former President Joseph Kabila’s attempt to extend his term in office. Katumbi in a statement said he was inconsolable at the loss of a more than a lawyer and friend; a big brother and father.
Many in DR Congo have described Mr Mukendi wa Mulumba’s death as a huge loss. Rights activist Anneke Van Woudenberg wrote on Twitter: “He was one of the greats. His country, and the human rights movement, will miss him.”
Ms Rose Marie Compaore: Top lawmaker becomes Burkina Faso’s first COVID-19 casualty
On March 17 March Burkina Faso recorded its first coronavirus death. The authorities confirmed that the patient was Ms Rose Marie Compaore, who was the first-vice president of the parliament. She died aged 62 and was said to have diabetes, an underlying health condition.
President Marc Roch Kabore and Speaker of the National Assembly, Alassane Bala Sakande, were among those that sent condolences to the family via social media platform Twitter.
“This tragic event calls us all to recognise the scale and seriousness of the problem which confronts us all,” said Martial Ouedraogo, Burkina Faso’s COVID-19 response coordinator. This is a very contagious illness that is potentially fatal and that for now has no treatment aside from prevention,” he stressed.