Cameroonian artist Blick Bassy dedicated his latest LP to all those who were engaged in the fight for independence in Cameroon. The lead track ‘Ngwa‘ reminds the public about one of the most important – but least known – independence fighters on the African continent: Ruben Um Nyobè, the so called ‘forgotten father of Cameroon‘. Um Nyobè played a central role in the labor union USCC and he co-founded the political party ‘Union des populations du Cameroun‘ (UPC), which demanded total independence and whose members were chased, arrested and assassinated by French colonialists. Despite his insistence to lead a non-violent movement, he was himself murdered by the French army on September 13, 1958 near Boumnyébel. Up to 1991, it was prohibited in Cameroon to remember his efforts – let alone mentioning him.
In his track Blick Bassy calls Ruben Um Nyobè ‘Ngwa’, which means ‘friend’ in Bassa. His piece is an important contribution to stop the forced amnesia and to rehabilitate one of most important icons of African history.
‘Ngwa, you who fought for liberation,
you who helped to forge our spirituality,
you who gave your life for our liberties,
you who sacrificed everything for our sovereignty,
you are our Ngwa.’
In the last scene of the video, we see the murdered hero being carried away by his murderers. The scene is brutal, but has a hopeful twist. Out of the hero’s dead body, grows a plant. The producer of the video, South African Tebogo Malope, explains: “Another visual representation at the end spawns from the images of a lifeless freedom fighter turning into a tree reminiscent of South African political icon Solomon Mahlangu who was killed by the Apartheid government, who’s last words before his death were “My blood will nourish the tree that will bear the fruits of freedom.””
Blick Bassy’s LP ‘1958‘ is accompanied by the video series ‘1958‘ in which Cameroonian storyteller Binda Ngazolo recounts Cameroon’s history and the role of Um Nyobè.