Cameroon's Blick Bassy remembers 1958 and his fallen hero

Blick Bassy’s career took off internationally in 2015 when the tech giant Apple took a shine to his subtle falsetto voice and deft banjo playing and used a clip from his album Akö in an ad. His upcoming fourth album promises to be radically different. He talks to RFI's Alison Hird about the need to "re-tell" the story of Ruben Um Nyobè.
Nyobè was the leader of the Cameroonian independence movement who was asassinated by French colonial powers in 1958.
The album is due out next spring, but Blick Bassy, who's also a writer, has already devoted a talking gig to Um Nyobè.
He brought the piece, "1958", to the stage during the recent Africolor festival alongside Cameroonian rapper Krotal and story-teller Binda Ngozolo.

The assassination of Um Nyobè by French colonial powers in 1958 is a sordid chapter in French history.
Nyobè founded the Cameroonian People's Union (UPC), a party that took up armed struggle to claim full independence for Cameroon from France. He was shot in the back by French forces, his body dragged to his village and exposed, then later sunk in concrete.
For years Nyobè was portrayed as a terrorist. Under Ahmadou Ahidjo, Cameroon's first president post-independence, even mentioning his name in public was tabou.
Bassy says it's time to tell a different story, closer to the truth.
"Ahmadou Ahidjo was put into place by colonial powers," he said, "so it was normal he towed the same political line as those who pointed the finger at people fighting for our country's complete independence.
"They were treated as maquisards [a derogatory term meaning bush fighters], people who wanted to do harm. And yet various ethnic groups and communities from that time knew very well what was happening.
"Nyobè managed to stay a long time hidden in the forest because he was backed by a large part of the population."

Time to write our own history
Um Nyobè was affectionately known as Mpondol meaning "who is the voice of" in the Bassa language. Bassy, whose 20 year career as musician, writer and producer has given him a wide audience, has embraced the role of truthsayer.
"This story was written by others, so my role today is to take part in the writing of our own history. It’s up to us to write it if we want to change things, so that a Cameroonian living in Cameroon, a Chadian living in Chad, wakes up every morning saying 'I’m an incredible human ...
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