Blick Bassy – Africa Award Winner | Songlines


Blick Bassy
1958 (Nø Førmat!)

Blick Bassy 1958 Cover

Cameroon’s Blick Bassy offers a luminous album of songs evoking his country’s recent history and its courageous fight for independence. In particular the album chronicles the savage killing of one of the unsung heroes of the country’s battle for independence, Ruben Um Nyobè, in 1958 by the French colonial army and how his death emblemised the cost of the struggle. Singing in the local Bassa language in a high-pitched melodic voice, the album is both political and personal for Bassy’s own parents spent 18 months hiding from the French military in a forest. Tenderness and sorrow dominate the album, which has no drums or percussion. Instead, the pulsating Cameroonian rhythms of assiko, bolobo and hongo are played on guitar and banjo, cello, trombone, trumpet and keyboards. The result is a powerful statement that sheds light on a skeleton in the closet of French colonial history that has long been covered up.

+ Read our Blick Bassy interview: “We were all branded terrorists, violent and irresponsible. Until today, we are stigmatised. That was the second reason I had to bring out this album.”

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