Libreville was upside down following the re-election of president Ali Bongo in August 2016. By the time I was ready to go ahead with this project, Mack-Joss’s phone number had been disconnected, and shortly afterwards I found out that the baobab of Gabonese music had fallen.
An adept of folk rhythms, Mack-Joss’s career as a musician began when he was just 17 of age and he quickly established himself as a staple of Libreville’s nightlife scene, singing in various local bands. By 1966 he had released “Le Boucher”, his first hit which swept the African airwaves and earned him the respect of Franco, the legendary master of Congolese Rumba. Franco´s encouragement helped transform him from a Gabonese singer into an ascendent figure of pan-African culture.
Between 1968 and 1970 Mack-Joss and his Negro-Tropical immortalised a good number of singles recorded in a makeshift open-air recording studios and in 1971 Gabon armed forces decided to form their own band. Mack-Joss was recruited to become the band leader and this was the birth of Orchestre Massako which became Gabon’s national orchestra.