Cameroon / USA: Lapiro – behind bars in Cameroon, behind a mic in Brooklyn

18 December 2010
Singer Lapiro de Mbanga joins by phone from jail in Cameroon as U.S. Afro-pop band performs his banned song live in New York

Coming to the stage in Brooklyn: The Cameroonian singer Lapiro de Mbanga will appear live from prison via mobile phone during a concert and discussion forum organized in tribute to him and featuring a U.S. Afro-pop band performing the political song that landed Lapiro in jail.

The Boston-based Group Saloum, fronted by the world-renowned griot percussionist and singer Lamine Touré, will play their interpretation of “Constipated Constitution,” a song criticizing President Paul Biya that became an unofficial anthem of street protests in 2008. The imprisoned singer, whose case has been noted by the Secretary General of the United Nations, will join the event from his cell. Also speaking will be Maran Turner, Executive Director of Freedom Now, a Washington-based legal advocacy organization that is working towards Lapiro’s release.

The event will take place on Tuesday, 16 November 2010 at Littlefield performance + art space, 622 Degraw St., Brooklyn. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $7 in advance; $10 at the door.

The collaboration with Lapiro will be followed by a set of Lamine Touré and Group Saloum’s own infectious dance music in the Senegalese mbalax tradition.


Lapiro de Mbanga 

See Lapiro’s Impossible Music Session

Bayer in Brooklyn: Publikum vor der Bühne, Musiker hinter Gittern

The report is in German language with interviews in English language.


Lapiro’s Impossible Music Session – promovideo
– video on YouTube


Challenged his conviction
Lapiro has challenged his conviction and 3-year sentence, which international observers agree were invalid and unjust. As he awaits a Supreme Court date, Lapiro is confined to a cell with very poor conditions that he shares with 50 others. Recently he has suffered from severe bouts of typhoid fever and lumbago. Yet he remains defiant:

“If instead of using guns you use music, you use the voice, you use the sound, then people who are against freedom will be shut down by your lyrics, by your sound, by your musical attitude.”

This event is part of a unique project called The Impossible Music Sessions, which connects censored artists from around the world with artists in New York who learn and perform their music.

The Sessions are sponsored by The New York Foundation for the Arts and Freemuse: The World Forum on Music and Censorship. Previous sessions have featured illegal electronic rock from Iran and persecuted hip hop from Guinea Bissau.

Learn more at

Above: Lapiro de Mbanga. Photo by Jen Bell of Freemuse
Below: Lamine Touré. Photo via

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