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The Great African Minds Lost to Covid-19 pandemic

While the death toll in Africa is lower than other regions of the world, the virus has taken some of the most prominent African people whose impacts have been huge in their different countries.

The virus has left in its wake casualties ranging from top statesmen to top politicians – former presidents, lawmakers, diplomats, entertainment icons, and highly recognized men and women in the society.

In this article, we will be discussing some of the great African minds lost to Covid-19, explore who these prominent people are and some of the impacts they’ve had in their respective countries before their deaths. Keep reading to know more about them.

Afwerki Abraha (Eritrea)

Afwerki Abraha was a former Eritrean diplomat and freedom fighter who died in the United Kingdom after contracting the coronavirus. The news about the death of Abraham was disclosed by his family to the BBC. He was said to have been in intensive care in the hospital for over a month, and did not have any previous underlying health issues. According to the BBC, Abraha was the first Eritrean diplomat to Ethiopia, after Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia. Abraha studied Chemistry in Russia and was a chemist by profession. After stepping down from his ambassadorial role, Abraha relocated to London along with his devoted wife Fatina Ahmedin, where he lived from 1996 until 2001. Abraha was a man of great virtue and loyalty.

Abba Kyari (Nigeria)

After flying in from Germany on official duty, the Chief of Staff to the Nigerian President, Mallam Abba Kyari died on Friday, April 17 due to complications of Covid-19. Speaking on social media, the President’s spokesperson Shehu Garba confirmed the passing away of Abba Kyari and announced the deceased had recently tested positive to the deadly COVID-19 virus and had been receiving treatment. After which, he died on Friday, April 17, 2020. Abba Kyari was in his late 60’s and served as Chief of Staff to the Federation since the inception of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015.

Professor Jacob Plange-Rhule (Ghana)

Professor Jacob Plange-Rhule was a renowned Ghanaian physician who died due to COVID-19 complications in the early hours of Friday, April, 10 2020, while in admission at the University of Ghana Medical Centre, Accra. Prof. Plange-Rhule was former Rector of the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons, and a senior member of the Ghana Medical Association, (GMA). He was known for his dedication towards his profession and spent the better part of his life tending and taking care of the sick, his death has been described as an incalculable loss by the society of medical practitioners in Ghana. Prof. Plange-Rhule’s other notable roles include former President of Ghana Kidney Association, Head of Department of Physiology at Ghana’s School of Medical Sciences, Kumasi and  Consultant Physician in the Department of Medicine, at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) where he was head of the Hypertension and Renal Clinic.

Manu Dibango (Cameroon)

When talking about Cameroonian Afro-jazz, it is impossible not to mention the legend Manu Dibango who died at the age of 86 due to Covid-19. His death is one that hit the continent and comes as a shock to many fans of the ‘Soul Makossa’ singer. Dibango’s death was disclosed by his family via a Facebook post celebrating the late legend while also disclosing that the saxophonist’s death was as a result of the new coronavirus. Dibango is widely known and celebrated for his hit song, “Soul Makossa” released in 1972. Dibango was the first global celebrity to die from the virus and died in a Parisian hospital in France. Manu Dibango was born in 1933 in Douala, Cameroon, and developed his singing skills in the church, he is known for incorporating a unique blend of jazz, funk, and traditional Cameroonian music and has influenced various bands such as Kool and the Gang in the 1970s to hip-hop singers in the 1990s. Dibango has collaborated with numerous artists around the globe including Nigeria’s Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti and US pianist Herbie Hancock.  He was appointed Artist for Peace by UNESCO in 2004.

Ms. Rose Marie Compaore (Burkina Faso)

Burkina Faso had been spared of the Covid-19 virus, but on March 17, the country recorded its first coronavirus death and according to a statement released by the authorities, it was confirmed as Ms. Rose Marie Compaore, former vice president of the Burkina Faso parliament. She died at  62 understood to have been battling an underlying diabetes health condition. Burkina Faso’s President Marc Roch Kabore and National Assembly speaker, Alassane Bala Sakande, were among those that sent condolences to the family.

Aurlus Mabele (Congo)

King of Soukous like he was famously called by his fans over in Central Africa, Aurlus Mabélé whose real name is Aurélien Miatsonama, was a Congolese singer best known for his famous Soukous style – a high tempo dance music enjoyed across the African continent. Aurlus Mabélé was born in Congo-Brazzaville but moved to France in the 1980s and died in a Parisian hospital at the age of  67 due to Covid-19 complications. His death was first announced via Facebook by one of his close friends Mav Cacharel on Facebook detailing the loss of the famous Soukous singer to the coronavirus. Also, the deceased’s daughter who is also a  singer, Liza Monet tweeted on her social media outlet the passing away of her father and hat he had died due to Covid-19.


The Covid-19 virus has taken a lot of lives including prominent people in society. The total number of cases in Africa is rising, although precautionary measures have been put in place, the virus is still out there and we hope in time a vaccine would be developed for it.


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