Cameroon: Singer Lapiro de Mbanga released from prison

8 April 2011
Singer Lapiro de Mbanga was released from New Bell Prison in Douala on Friday 8 April 2011 at 2 pm after three years imprisonment under harsh conditions.

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The release was not expected before Saturday morning, but as Freemuse called the singer on Friday afternoon to hear about his expectations he said:

“I have two news for you. A good one and a bad one. Which one do you want to hear? The bad one is that I will not be released tomorrow. The good news is that I’m already out of prison now,” he said, followed by a big laugh.

Local media and friends of Lapiro had prepared to greet the singer on his release Saturday morning, but the release was not publicized, and immediately after the release there was confusion amongst local media.

A spokesman for New Bell Prison had told a reporter that Lapiro de Mbanga was just being transferred to a prison in Lapiro’s home town, Mbanga.

Lapiro de Mbanga, however, confirmed his release in a phone call to Freemuse at 16:10 pm.

Lapiro on 9 April 2011 in front of the gate of his house
Photo: Théodore Tchopa / Le Jour


May still face security problems
Marie Korpe, Freemuse Executive Director, said:
“We celebrate with Lapiro and his family. We’ve worked for his release for almost three years in collaboration with many good colleagues and sister organisations. But we will continue to observe closely what happens to Lapiro de Mbanga. We know that he may still face security problems and we hope that we will be able to retain his career as soon as possible”

Lapiro: ‘Power creates monsters’
In a local media interview following his release, when asked what he plans to do now, Mbanga commented: “Power creates monsters. If, because of a little seller of tomatoes the regime fell in Tunisia, I think that a singer can also change things in Cameroon. The Haitian President is a singer.”

However when asked if he is planning on standing for election in October, Mbanga replied that he is not, and continued:
“I think that such duties are not made for a normal man. Those who have understood the delicacy and the demands of these duties stay in power for a maximum of eight years. Because God only knows that after eight years, that man is no longer normal. But when instead of that you decide to stay for 29 years, 40 years, I have to ask myself why”.

Mbanga added that he has written a book entitled ‘Cabale politico-judiciaire ou la mort programmée d’un combattant de la liberté’ (‘Politico-judicial cabal or the planned death of a freedom fighter’), for which he is currently seeking a publisher. To read the full interview in French, click here.


Lapiro on 9 April 2011 with fans and friends visiting his home
Photo: Théodore Tchopa / Le Jour




Followed closely internationally
Believed to be imprisoned three years ago for his song ‘Constipated Constitution’ critisising President Biya of Cameroon, Lapiro’s case has been followed closely internationally and last year a petition was made to the UN for arbitrary detention.

Freemuse has collaborated with Freedom Now, International Pen, Mondomix and his guitar provider Vigier Guitars.

Lapiro de Mbanga (real name: Pierre Roger Lambo Sandjo) was the winner of the Freedom to Create Prize in 2009. He received the prize when Freemuse visited him in Cameroon on Music Freedom Day 3 March 2011.

Media contact
Ole Reitov, Freemuse Programme Officer
Cell: +45 23 23 27 65, email: 


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Lapiro de Mbanga together with his wife, Louisette Noukeu

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Read more
about Lapiro de Mbanga:

Lapiro appears at the Supreme Court

Lapiro receives award on Music Freedom Day


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