Over two thousand people yesterday – August 5th, attended the funeral of one of Africa’s best known musicians – Bunny Mack, who passed away last month in London after a short illness.
All saints Church in East London had never seen such a large congregation, perhaps in almost a century, as close to one thousand fans and friends of the singer, filled the church – joining family members in prayer and celebration of the singer’s colourful life.
But it was a sad and sombre moment, when the cortege carrying the coffin of the late singer arrived.
Hundreds of mourners were standing outside unable to get into the church, already filled by about one thousand people.
Then suddenly, a bright ray of sunshine beamed through the beautiful mosaic of coloured window panes of the church, transcending the altar, as the beautiful coffin was wheeled across to the front where his wife, children, grandchildren and siblings sat.
A burst of funeral vibrato, sang by the Leoa choir – supported by the All saint’s Choir, and backed by a six-piece brass band led by the illustrious musician – Collins Pratt and the organist, filled the church chamber. It was as though the heavens had opened.
Yes, it was indeed a choral harmony, only fitting for Kings and for a man who himself, is well known for giving so much joy and happiness to millions of music lovers all over the world.
As the priest reminded the congregation of the wonderful and colourful life lived by the musician, she noted also that Bunny Mack was a very generous, friendly and deeply spiritual individual, who cared not only for his family, but for all those whose lives were personally touched by the singer.
Glorious tributes were paid by family members and friends. One of his daughters – Cecilia Walters, spoke of Bunny Mack the father, the provider and the family comedian who gave so much love, happiness and clear direction, with strong family and christian values to their upbringing.
She thanked friends and well-wishers, especially the thousands that joined them in celebrating the life of their dad.
One of the most memorable eulogies was delivered by Bunny Mack’s sister – Ms. Jemima Macfoy, who ended her tribute with a song taken from the chorus of one of Bunny Mack’s most popular records:
“If I hurt you am sorry……darling don’t you worry, because I really..really loved you baby.” And that got the congregation joining in, singing the chorus. Bunny would have been smiling in his coffin!
Yes, it was a sad and sombre moment, but it was also a celebration of the life of one of Africa’s best musicians of his generation.
The younger brother of Bunny Mack – Mr. Akitunde Akiwumi, also paid an emotional tribute to the singer, whom he recalled as one whose passion was not only about his music, but his funny jokes that brought so much laughter to friends and family.
He too thanked everyone for their condolences and best wishes. And to the wonderful surprise of the congregation, sang another chorus from Bunny’s most successful songs, with a silky and melodious voice, reminiscent of his older brother:
“You are my sweetie…my sugar…my baby….my lover, so let me love you my lover, o yeah!”
That too, just like the previous chorus sang beautifully by his sister, brought a burst of cheer from the congregation, reminding everyone that this was no ordinary funeral. It was a funeral made in Hollywood, if not better.
Bunny Mack certainly, would have been very proud of his sending off yesterday to pastures green.
Hundreds of mourners followed the funeral cortege to the City of London Cemetery in east London, as an otherwise normal London afternoon traffic came to a standstill.
A star – a very bright star had fallen, and was now going home.
At the graveside, the outpouring of emotions was like no other. Bunny Mark – the great and illustrious singer was receiving his final farewell, with the decorum, dignity and panache, befitting a colourful and popular King.
As the trumpeter, accompanied by the rest of the Collins Pratt brass band filled the air with the happy sounds of the singer, there was celebration the singer himself would have personally endorsed.
Leaving the cemetery, friends and well-wishers of the star, sang along to the rhythm of the brass band: “You are my sweetie….my sugar….my honey….my lover, so let me hold you….forever….o yeah, o yeah, o yeah!
Celebration of the life of the singer continued at the Excel Centre in the London Docklands entertainment halls, where Bunny Mack’s favourite and most delicious Sierra Leonean dishes were served.
Bunny Mack is gone to the other side, joining his musical icons – Bob Marley, Otis Redding, B.B. King, his late friend and promoter Akie Dean, and several others that had gone before him.
But his memory, surely lives on, especially after yesterday’s super-star funeral service and celebration of his life in East London.
Born in Freetown, Sierra Leone, the 69 year old Bunny Mack rose to global fame after recording a string of dance floor hits.
At the age of six, he began playing the harmonica and penny-whistle, making his first public appearance at age eight. Later, he started playing both the banjo and guitar, and singing in church choirs.
He launched his career in music when he formed a band called The Daverns, along with a group of friends
He then later joined the band Soundcasters ’66 and went to the UK where their first single was released in 1967.
Two years later “Oh How I Miss Her” was a UK hit. They then relocated to Germany and performed at many venues across Europe.
Following the demise of the Soundcasters, Bunny performed with several other bands.
And in the late 1970’s his career took a new turn, when he teamed up with the Afro National producer and music promoter – Akie Deen, who also sadly passed away in Freetown, Sierra Leone over two years ago.
His second single with Akie Deen – ‘Funny Lady / Discolypso, brought a well-deserved commercial breakthrough; and the follow-up ‘Let Me Love You Forever’ was also a huge success.
And in 1981, his first LP ‘Let Me Love You’ became a disco hit, which he recorded along with other prolific musicians – Alfred Bannerman, George Lee, Jake Sollo, and Papa Mensah.
His disco/funk/calypso fusion featured English lyrics to a thumping dance beat.
Bunny Mack was voted musician of the year by Africa Music magazine and received a gold disc for his song ‘Let Me Love You’.
Bunny Mack also performed in several live concerts, alongside Collins Pratt and King Masco.
In 2014, the remix version of the song ‘Let me love you’ was also featured on Capital Xtra Afro beats Top 10 Music Charts on a new version called “My Sweetie”.
Bunny Mack was born Cecil Bunting MacCormack on the 3rd of December 1945 in Freetown. He attended the Buxton Boys School, the Government Model Middle School and the Prince of Wales Secondary School in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
Cecil Bunting MacCormack was deeply passionate about his Freemasonry. He held a London Grand Rank, and was an outstanding Mason in the Royal Arch, Mark and Royal Ark Mariner.
Bunny is survived by his wife Violet, his son Kevin, two daughters – Cecilia, and Tracey, and several grandchildren. He will be sorely missed across the world.
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