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General Valsero Abandoned by His Music Comrades

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Music is not only about entertainment and this has been proven in many instances where we find musicians in jail because of their stance against those in power. There are many of them spending jail time because they protested or demanded for social justice – poverty, social inequality, political oppression, and others. On the other hand, many have found themselves in prison because of their regrettable behavior. I am not talking about these ones in particular although some of them are languishing in jail for such ‘regrettable behavior’ in other to silence them for their fight against social injustice.

What incited me to write this is the sociopolitical turmoil hovering over Cameroon. One of such artiste who since I knew, has never sung anything other than decrying the social, political and economic situation of Cameroonians is now behind bars. He’s languishing in jail because he stood for the people, even though the powers that be see him as a delinquent who wants to incite the population and bring instability in the country.

What has baffled me the most is the silence of other artists. Everything seems to be very normal to artists in Cameroon. Some months behind, we saw how journalists rallied behind Mimi Mefo until the military tribunal had to drop all charges leveled against her. Caught in this very imbroglio were two journalists that were arrested alongside Maurice Kamto, the leader of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement. They were arrested for doing their job as journalists, just that they may have been at the right place, at the wrong time.

Even though my last statement may not be certain, the government has always been using such tactics to silence journalists in Cameroon. These journalists are now free thanks to the concerted efforts of their colleagues – even though they still have to go back before the judges. They were not set free because they were ‘deemed innocent’ by the powers that be. They may have been set free because of the pressure put on them by the various unions of journalists in the country. Journalists in Cameroon may not be that united, but when it comes to one of theirs being arrested in the course of carrying out his or her job or even fighting for social justice, they in unison decry and put pressure for their release.

General Valsero, born Gaston Philippe Abe Abel was arrested on January 26, 2019, during a peaceful march in Yaounde. I am still to see a his music comrades mention him, not to talk of even asking for his release. Apart from Simon Patrice Minko’o Minko’o, popularly known by his stage name, Koppo, who visited Valsero on February 1, 2019, I have not heard any other artiste in Cameroon or outside the country say anything against the arrest of one of theirs. It is a terrible situation given that he was not arrested because of what I termed ‘horrible circumstances’ but because he was fighting against social and political inequality – something he has been doing for almost his entire political career.

Talking to Radio France Internationale, Koppo said General Valsero is a responsible person doing nothing other than denouncing things that are not good. Apart from Koppo and other Cameroonians (except artistes in a united voice), Claudy Siar, the popular animator of Radio France International (RFI) has also called for the release of General Valsero from prison.

The world is changing so is the music industry. Musicians will benefit less when they are at odds with each other. It should not only be when they have issues with their financial rights that they can come together in rival groups to fight for it. Money should not be what will bring about unity among them. Their voices shouldn’t be heard only when they want to entertain us or when they want to get their financial benefits.

Tell me how the population will join them in fighting for their rights, against piracy when they themselves can’t stand for their own.

Music is not only for entertainment but a powerful tool that can be used in helping the society function well. Music is usually categorized in generations, meaning a new style of music is born whenever a new generation is born. This means that the society in particular influences the style of music that reigns at that period.

It baffles me when the country is in a social, political and cultural turmoil and what most artists sing to us is about platonic love, sex, drugs, money and all that which may not impact the people listening in any way. Most of their songs are void of emotions and feelings of the people of which they are their supposed customers.

This makes me doubt if the artists really know the power of togetherness. If they did, I doubt if they would have sat quietly in the situation where one of their comrades in business is languishing in jail because he was fighting something that would have been of benefit to all of them.

I think it‘s high time artistes come together to not only make music for a cause, raise awareness on the sociopolitical situation, but to be each other’s keeper. It’s time for you to put the rhythms, notes and chords together to create melodies and harmonies that will heal feelings, convey emotions and so on. Let’s hope Valsero and others that have been incarcerated for the fight for social justice in the country be released!

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