Cameroon: Lapiro de Mbanga

Musician Lapiro de Mbanga comments on his situation in the prison, and on his cause

In September 2008, Lapiro was sentenced to three years imprisonment and a huge fine. Sharing a cell with more than 50 persons, Lapiro’s health has deteriorated as hygiene conditions and food are substandard. This video interview was recorded by Freedom to Create in the prison in November 2009.

“Imprisonment will neither stop me nor my music,” says Lapiro de Mbanga, who has a long history of voicing the frustrations of the people in Cameroon. Lapiro de Mbanga believes that music can be used as a strong tool against corruption and power abuse, and he has become a symbol of peaceful resistance to the erosion of democracy in Cameroon.

Opposing constitutional amendment in 2008, which not only provided the president with immunity from prosecution for acts as president, but even allow president Biya to run for unlimited re-elections, Lapiro de Mbanga wrote the song ‘Constitution Constipée’ (Constipated Constitution), which inspired demonstrations all over the country.

Courage and creativity
Lapiro de Mbanga — described as an “unceremonial sheriff of the backyards” — was selected in 2009 to receive a special Imprisoned Artist Prize by Freedom to Create “in recognition of his courage and outstanding artwork” by a distinguished panel including world famous conductor Daniel Barenboim and Geoffrey Robertson, one of the world’s foremost human rights lawyers.

The Freedom to Create Prize celebrates the courage and creativity of artists around the world, who use their talents to build the foundations of open societies, promote social justice and inspire human spirit. More than 1,000 artists from more than 100 countries were nominated in 2009.

The prize was 25,000 US dollars, which Lapiro could use in support for his release and for his family who has suffered immensely since his arrest.

The motivation of the panel read: “As an ambassador for the freedom to create, his example will give voice to countless artists around the globe who use their talent to create a brighter future for all. Freemuse also represent those artists, some yet unheard of, who are sacrificing their personal freedom and safety on a daily basis in order to make our future brighter for all.”

Ole Reitov from Freemuse added: “As Lapiro points out, this is also recognition of all other artists out there who are suffering suppression and illegal imprisonment. And Lapiro is still not a free man, so we will continue to campaign for his release together with our sister organisations.”

You can read more about Lapiro on:

and about the Freedom to Create prize here:

LIsten to Lapiro's comment on the news about the prize  Lapiro’s statement from his prison cell when he received the news that he would be awarded the Freedom to Create prize




Click to see video
Right-click on photo and choose ‘Save Target As’ to download the video

Click to go to
Lapiro was 2009-winner of The Freedom to Create Imprisoned Artist Prize. Click on photo to read more…


Click to listen to Lapiro's banned song

Click to read more about music censorship in Cameroon


 Press: photos in high resolution
Daily Nation – 27 October 2009:
Groups Rally for Cameroonian Jailed for ‘Constipation’ Song



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