Monday, December 6, 2010

Lapiro de Mbanga: Imprisoned Cameroonian musician speaks out

Lapiro de Mbanga. Source: Freemuse.
In April 2008, a renown Cameroonian musician and "defender of the common man" - Pierre Roger Lambo Sandjo, popularly known as Lapiro de Mbanga was arrested and imprisoned for criticizing - in his lyrics - a controversial constitutional amendment that eliminated presidential term limits in Cameroon. According to Freemuse, an organization that advocates freedom of expression for musicians and composers, the singer was accused of inciting demonstrations against rising cost of living and the 2008 constitutional amendment.

Recently, a video interview of Lapiro de Mbanga conducted by Freedom to Create, an organization that promotes creative expressions, surfaced on the internet.

In the interview, Lapiro speaks about the effectiveness of music in inspiring change, what he is trying to achieve with his music and the sacrifice he is willing to make on behalf of his children and the youths of Cameroon. Watch...

The imprisonment of Lapiro de Mbanga reveals limitations on freedom of expression and the right to hold and express opinions in Cameroon. No doubt, many people in Cameroon have been effectively silenced, and the few who dare to speak out do so at their own risk.

Lapiro the Mbanga was sentenced to 3 years in prison. Sources say the song that cost his freedom - "Constitution Constipée" (Constipated Constitution) - was banned.

In a press release, the Executive Director of Media Foundation For West Africa, Professor Kwame Karikari, encouraged rights advocates and supporters to help secure the release of Lapiro de Mbanga by sending letters to the nearest Cameroonian embassy.

It is worth mentioning that in 2009, Lapiro was awarded the Freedom to Create Imprisoned Artist Prize.

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