Lapiro De Mbanga – The Eclipse of A Hero’s Life


The Life and death of each one of us, writes a memorandum for others to follow. While some people disappear completely after death, there are some however, who are simply eclipsed because their light, though shaded, lives on in myriads of ways.

I bet many of you, if not Cameroonian, have never heard of the name Lapiro De Mbanga. I do not blame you if this is the case. Almost everything in Cameroon that remotely challenges the dangerous status-quo of Paul Biya and his cohorts is always under the radar. (For more on Lapiro De Mbanga, see FabAfriq’s story)

My single consolation is that great people like Karl Marx, died in obscurity, but their ideology outlived and outshone them. Upon Lapiro’s demise, the BBC in a very short report simple called him ‘a protest singer’. But was he just that? I think not.

Lapiro was an activist of the first order. All his music was designed to fight for Cameroonians of all works of life. From the ’80s when freedom of expression was anathema in Cameroon, Lapiro used a lingo that was understood by almost every Cameroonian.

In his music he questioned issues ranging from police corruption, Cameroon foreign debt, nepotism in the Cameroon political system, the one-man-show type of governance of Paul Biya, poor governance and lack of basic amenities, the lack of anything to show from the success of the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon, unemployment and the degradation of Cameroon education, and challenging the constitutional change that saw Biya become eligible for life presidency.

His imprisonment for speaking out, simply confirmed that Cameroon was one of the worse countries to be outspoken – mainly because most of the world at large do not know this is the case. Upon release from prison, Lapiro did not stop, he sang promising Biya more trouble. But like many like him who continually challenged Biya, life runs a short course.

Many journalists have suffered prison sentences and some like Germain S. Ngota Ngota even died in a Cameroon prison. The million pounds question remains: how long will Biya continue to suppress the the people of Cameroon? The protests of 2008 may have failed because of lack of international support, but I am sure this is not the end. There is a limit to how much people can endure.

With a higher GDP than Cote D’Ivoire and Senegal, Cameroon seriously lags behind the two in life expectancy. It is a worry that despite the wars and violent upheavals that the Ivory Coast has faced, people are more likely to live longer there than in Cameroon.

Lapiro may have died at the very young age of 57 but like he says in one of his songs: ALUTA CONTINUA

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