Lapiro De Mbanga

Described as an “unceremonial sheriff of the backyards,” Lapiro has used the power of popular music to campaign for social reforms in his native Cameroon for nearly twenty years. Angered by high living costs and a constitutional change that would allow the president to stay in power indefinitely, protesters in Cameroon took to the streets in 2008.

Amid nationwide strikes and mass demonstrations, Lapiro composed the song “Constitution Constipée,” (Constipated Constitution), in which he describes the country’s president, Paul Biya, as “caught in the trap of networks that oblige him to stay in power even though he is tired.” The song became an unofficial anthem of the protests, and Lapiro was arrested and charged of inciting youth unrest. In September 2009, he was sentenced three years imprisonment and ordered to pay a fine of 280 million CFA francs (640,000 US dollars) as compensation for damage caused during the riots.

Nominated by Freemuse, Lapiro in November 2009 was selected as the winner of the global “Freedom to Create Imprisoned Artist Prize”. The jury panel, which included renowned conductor Daniel Barenboim, argued that “his songs constitute a cultural megaphone by which the disenfranchised and politically endangered can vicariously exercise free speech.”

Constitution Constipée 07:33
Music by: Lapiro de Mbanga
Lyrics by: Lapiro de Mbanga
Licensed from: Lapiro de Mbanga