Cameroon: Lapiro de Mbanga honoured at Cameroon Music Awards

NEWS

##PagePublishedLong##

Cameroon:
Lapiro de Mbanga honoured at Cameroon Music Awards

Organisers of the Cameroon music and cultural awards, Canal D’Or, have honoured jailed singer Lapiro de Mbanga with a Life Time Achievement Award.

The special tribute was presented in Douala to Lapiro’s wife, Louisette Lambo Sandjo, on 9 April 2010 in recognition of the artist’s work, especially his engaging lyrics on the social, political and economic situation of his countrymen, often delivered in the mboko variant of the country’s lingua franca, Pidgin-English.

“I dedicate this award to my husband and to all who are with him in cell number 18,” the emotional Louisette told the audience made up of politicians, senior civil servants, top class businessmen, musicians, comedians and journalists. “It is hard to hand-over such a prize to someone who is not free but it is a sign of recognition,” said Rabier Bindzi, one of the directors of the private television channel, Canal 2 International,which organises the awards.

The wife of the musician who was a candidate for the opposition SDF party during the 2007 Council elections said the tribute would be a sign of encouragement for Lapiro and his family.

Politically motivated imprisonment
In an article which was published on 16 April 2010 in the The Post newspaper in Cameroon, entitled ‘Analysis: A Question Of Presidential Clemency’, Peterkins Manyong explained in detail why it is generally believed that the musician’s imprisonment is politically motivated. The following is an excerpt of the article in the Post:

In the beginning of April 2010, Shanda Tomne, a lecturer at the Yaounde Institute of International Relations, IRIC, did something exceptional. He wrote to President Biya appealing to him to pardon jailed musician, Lapiro de Mbanga. The eminent academic who is a writer, explained to the Head of State that Lapiro’s imprisonment was the outcome of a conspiracy by the musician’s enemies to victimise him.

A similar appeal was also made to the President by Paul Eric Kingue, Mayor of Njombe- Penja, jailed at the same time with Lapiro.

The Mayor explained that he was victimised for pressing on banana companies operating in his municipality to pay the required taxes. Lapiro had aligned with him to make the request which the companies were obliged to comply with. The response of the President to the Mayor’s plea is still awaited.

Lapiro is quite unlike the Njombe-Penja Mayor. The musician has rejected the presidential clemency idea preferring a Supreme Court ruling. Lapiro’s position is unmistakably the most rational under the circumstances. The musician has repeatedly declared that he is innocent of the charges leveled against him. The majority of those who followed the trial would agree with him that sentencing him was one of the greatest travesties of justice in legal history.

Witnesses were allegedly hired to testify against him and the DO of Mbanga who had persuaded him to calm agitating youth during the February uprising later burdened his conscience with a blatant lie that the destruction of property owned by a French banana company in Mbanga was instigated by the musician.

That Lapiro’s imprisonment was politically motivated is evident from the fact that he declared his intentions to become SDF Council list leader with the prospects of contesting for the position of Mbanga Mayor in the 2007 Municipal Election. CPDM authorities were almost certain that he could grab that coveted position given his soaring popularity.

At the peak of the constitutional amendment controversy, Lapiro also composed a hit single titled “Contitution Constipée”, condemning the amendment intended to make Biya life President. A similar request was made on behalf of Pius Njawe, founder of Le Messager Newspaper, after one of his numerous arrests for very critical reports and commentaries published by his newspaper.

The logic of the rejections lies in the fact that a presidential clemency is a way of silencing its critics because whoever benefits from it would be eternally grateful to the President. That Lapiro’s imprisonment has done a lot of damage to the image of the regime is discernable from the fact that the musician has received a number of prestigious awards since he was sentenced to the controversial three-year jail term and to pay FCFA 280 million.

The latest of them is Canal D’OR award, a world class award. The awards are clear messages to the Biya Regime that Cameroonians and the international communities are in solidarity with the jailed artist. Such recognition is a bad omen for the regime as it confirms its dismal, unfaltering human rights record.


Click to read more about Lapiro de Mbanga on freemuse.org
Lapiro de Mbanga


Click to read more about Cameroun on freemuse.org
Cameroon


Lapiro photographs
in high
resolution
for download
and print

Source

George Esunge Fominyen’s Outlook (blog) – 11 April 2010:

‘Lapiro Honoured at Cameroon Music Awards’

The Post – official website:

thepostwebedition.com

Tace action

Go to:
International PEN – 21 April 2010:

‘Cameroon: Two years on, songwriter remains imprisoned’


About Peterkins Manyong

Peterkins Manyong was born in 1959 in Baba 1, Ngoketunjia Division in the Northwest Province of Cameroon. He has a BA in English Modern Letters from the University of Yaoundé. He taught in several secondary schools before embracing journalism. He is currently a leading political analyst, with regular features in The Post newspaper. He has won several prestigious awards in investigative journalism and political reporting.

Go to top
Related reading on freemuse.org

Wal-Mart: Market censors and market mechanisms
Background information and articles on the biggest retailer in the US, who is often accused of censorship

In 1996, singer Sheryl Crow caused controversy with the lyrics “Watch out sister, Watch out brother, Watch out children while they kill each other, with a gun they bought at Wal-Mart discount store.”
Wal-Mart refused to sell the album unless she changed the lyric, but she refused and it stayed regardless of her losing album sales.
Other acts, who have been asked by Wal-Mart to change lyrics or song titles, include The Prodigy and Nirvana. The latter had the song title ‘Rape Me’ changed to ‘Waif Me’.

Background articles:

In some areas of the country, Wal-Mart is the only place to buy CDs or tapes. While it is well known that Wal-Mart doesn’t carry labeled CDs, the New York Times recently detailed in a front-page story how the chain and other big retailers are having an insidious effect on music and movie production. Like cancerous cells, adulterated censored CDs are proliferating in Wal-Mart’s bins, in many cases without being identified as such.

Read more: “Wal-Mart Blues”. Article from MetroActive (1999)


Wal-Mart refuses to sell any CD or tape with a parental warning sticker, even if it has been slapped on by mistake, as in the case of rapper Bizzy Bone, who was mistakenly accused of condoning school violence. Even after the error was explained — Bizzy raps so fast that the words are hard to make out — the store would not carry the CD. “Perception is reality,” a Wal-Mart spokesperson said.

Read more: Interview with Eric Nuzum (2001)


ROC calls for a national boycott of Wal-Mart:
“When a mega-corporation like Wal-Mart decides to restrict sales to that which is deemed “safe” by someone within that company, it has the SAME chilling effect on the music community as a full governmental legislative attack would. It basically works as a corporate mechanism to keep the music industry in line, creating a situation where the artists face economic ruin if they dare cross Wal-Mart’s “line in the family-values sand”. It is corporate censorship just as strong as governmental censorship, and it goes completely against the SPIRIT of freedom this country was founded on while not directly violating the Constitution.”

Read more

Taboo Tunes: music censorship in the US
Taboo Tunes (2004) also focus on market censors and the role of Wal-Mart