Kpakpo "Teddy" Addo
It is with great sadness and regret
that I write this tribute for
Mac Tonto. He was a sincere, reliable good friend.
We first met in 1962. He was with the then Brigade Band
and I was with Farmers’ Band.
Tonto joined Uhuru Band in 1964, when Duke “Okito”
Lumumba, another great musician and a trumpeter left for
the US. Mack was the replacement for Okito and a good
My turn came to join Uhuru in 1965 when Sammy Obbot ,
the leader and a great trumpeter,
also left for the UK.
At that time, the Uhuru Band was known as the show band
of Africa, much traveled in Africa and some overseas
countries. We were young, brash, musically inclined, but
we got the job done to the satisfaction of many,
including our professional peers overseas.
In the line-up for Uhuru were Mac Tonto as the second
lead trumpeter, with Kofi Dadzie as the third and I as
the lead trumpeter. Stan Plange was the overall leader
of the band and the whole experience at Uhuru was one
Uhuru Band was a family of musicians, but within it,
Tonto and I became close friends.
In 1968, the whole band traveled to East Africa for a
very successful tour. It was on occasion like long trips
that you discovered how funny Tonto could be. He had
great sense of humor. On the road, he was the live wire.
He could send the whole traveling party into stitches.
As soon as we returned from the East African tour, Tonto
left for UK to join his brother Teddy Osei and with him,
Sol Amafio and the late Lofty Amao formed the legendary
band known as Osibisa.
Tonto was a very generous guy. I remember late in the
70s when I was sojourning in Spain, and facing hardship
as a musician, Tonto invited me to come over to the UK
to join him and he sent me money to cover my trip. I was
unable to because of visa problems.
We still kept in close contact until I was able to make
my way to the UK in the early 80's.
I remember also a particular
Christmas Day in 1981. (Tonto was born on Christmas Day.)
We spent the day at my humble rented room at Tooting
Broadway, celebrating the festive occasion
and his birthday; and sharing memories and
experiences. It was a joy that the two of us never
Soon after, I left London in 1982 for the US but we
still kept in contact, calling and talking on the phone.
We had the opportunity for face to face contact when he
travelled to the US.
In 1986, I made my first trip back to Ghana with my late
wife, Jane. We transited through London and met Tonto
and his wife, Ama. They gladly gave us the keys to the
then new house they were building at Dzorwulu, Number 3
Osibisa Close. We lived there for the entire duration of
our six weeks stay.
And since then, Osibisa close was to serve as our home
in Ghana anytime we came back on vacation.
When you played with Tonto as a side, you would soon
find that you were in a fierce, but friendly
competition. We both played at our best on the trumpet
when the competition was great. For me, and as far as I
know for him too, it helped the music a lot. It resulted
in the best from both of us.
We had fewer and fewer opportunities to play together,
since the Uhuru days, except for a number of jam
sessions at local clubs in Ghana. Each time, we both
realized that the fun was still there when played in the
He started pushing
hard for my return home years ago.
He always said to me “You are a senior citizen
now. You can’t grow old in somebody’s land. You need to
return home, brother.”
He kept the pressure up even
after my wife Jane died. And finally, I returned home to
Ghana two years ago.
Now Mac Tonto is gone. That’s life, but I will miss him,
both as a musician and a friend.
Farewell my friend Mac.
Kpakpo “Teddy” Addo,
Aburi, Ghana, August 29, 2010