Revolutionary ideas generally outlive rebels. It takes a hero to transform a society for the better. Lapiro de Mbanga subscribes to this school of thought given that he has sacrificed unquantifiable amounts of time and talent defending the cause of the downtrodden in Cameroon. Baptized into the pro-democracy struggle of his own accord in the early 1990s in the wake of the launch of Ni John Fru Ndi’s Social Democratic Front (SDF) at Ntarikon Park in Bamenda, Lapiro has remained unflinchingly committed to the crusade against misgovernment, politics of ethnicity, tribalism, corruption, influence peddling, and electoral fraud tainted with gerrymandering in his land of birth.
Carton Rouge à Paul Biya: Lapiro’s Songs of Protest is a celebration of one man’s vendetta against a cancerous regime that thrives on the rape of democracy. Paul Biya, Lapiro’s pet-peeve, symbolizes the abortive democratization process with which Cameroon has come to be identified. The leitmotiv in this book is the entertainment of resistance in Cameroon against overwhelming odds. As a songwriter, Lapiro de Mbanga distinguishes himself from his peers through bravado, valiance and determination to say openly what many a Cameroonian would only mumble in the privacy of their homes. Lapiro is an anti-establishment songwriter who walks tall where angels fear to tread. For daring to compose an acerbic song titled Contitution constipée (or constipated constitution) in which he lampooned the Cameroonian Head of State for tinkering with the national Constitution, the singer was arrested and incarcerated for three years on trumped-up charges at the maximum security prison in New Bell. He is now out of prison and living with his family in Buffalo, New York as an asylee.
Carton Rouge à Paul Biya: Lapiro’s Songs of Protest documents the dissident singer’s lamentation and posturing on the status quo in Cameroon. This book is the portrait of an indefatigable freedom fighter who remains unfazed by threats from a despotic regime tottering on the brink of collapse. Paul Biya has embarked on a ludicrous witch-hunt which will boomerang and loosen his grip on power. Lapiro is unafraid to tell him to his face that his time up and he should pack bag and baggage and exit the people’s palace at Etoudi through the back door. He speaks his mind about the shortcomings of the powers-that-be in Cameroon. This, to my mind, is the stuff that makes true patriots tick. Agreeing with me is Africa’s literary virtuoso, Chinua Achebe, who contends that a true patriot is one "who will always demand the highest standards of his country and accept nothing but the best from his people. He will be outspoken in condemnation of their shortcomings without giving way to superiority, despair or cynicism." (35)
A meticulous perusal of this work will afford readers the opportunity to know the man behind the defiant musical compositions they have enjoyed listening to in the past three decades. This book adumbrates what makes Lapiro de Mbanga distinct from other Cameroonian songwriters who seem to vacillate between opportunism and arm-chair criticism. The introduction establishes a nexus between oral literature and human rights movements in Africa. Chapter One documents a scintillating interview the singer granted this author in July 2012. The crux of Chapter Two is the expression of political dissent through the medium of musical composition in Cameroon. Chapter Three is a comparative study of the musical compositions of three valiant anti-establishment songwriters, namely Lapiro, Valsero and Elwood. The theme of Chapter Four is the question of language choice in Lapiro de Mbanga’s songwriting. It should be noted that this talented songwriter has conceived a hybrid language, ‘le pidgin mboko’or mboko pidgin English which he uses with dexterity in diatribes against the Biya regime. Chapter Five fictionalizes the rebel art and politics of Lapiro de Mbanga.
About the author
Dr.Peter Wuteh Vakunta is professor modern languages at the United States Department of Defense Language Institute in California.He holds three graduate degrees from universities in America (MS, MA and Ph.D) His published works include: No Love Lost, Straddling the Mungo, Lion Man and Other Stories, Grassfields Stories from Cameroon, Green Rape: Poetry for the Environment, Ntarikon: Poetry for the Downtrodden, Majunga Tok: Poems in Pidgin English, and Better English: Mind Your P’s and Q’s and more. His works have earned him numerous literary awards internationally, including the Fay Goldie award for excellence in creative writing.
NB:This is an e-book available at amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Carton-Pr%C3%A9sident-R%C3%A9publique-Cameroun-ebook/dp/B00APTCMXY/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1355875328&sr=1-2&keywords=vakunta