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My friend Mac Tonto

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 one.

My turn came to join Uhuru in 1965 when Sammy Obbot , the leader and a great trumpeter,

Mac Tonto

 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 great fun.

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 forgot.

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 same band.

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











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