Blick Bassey’s ‘1958’ album challenges France’s history of Cameroon and celebrates anti-colonialist leader, Ruben Um Nyobé

Blick Bassy has released his politically charged new album, 1958, following his acclaimed album Akö of 2015. 1958 is a defiant tribute to the heroes who fought and died for the independence of his native Cameroon and is a beautiful selection of songs – sung in Bassa, his ancestral language.

The album focuses on Ruben Um Nyobé – the anti-colonialist leader of the Popular Union of Cameroon (UPC) – who was shot dead by French troops on 13th September, 1958, two years before the country became independent. 1958 is a beautiful blend of Blick’s distinctive voice and guitar, cello (Clement Petit), trumpet and keyboards (Alexi Merrill) and trombone (Johan Blanc) and is co-produced by Blick and Renaud Letang (Manu Chao, Feist, Saul Williams, Lianne La Havas, Charlotte Gainsbourg).

Blick was born in Cameroon and now lives in France.  His music first took shape with the award-winning band Macase. The song Kiki from Akö was used to launch the iPhone 6 in 2015.

Um Nyobé, like Blick, was from the Bassa region and ethnic group: “…in school we studied the French version of what happened,” Blick says. “The way I learned it in the books was that they were agitators, troublemakers. Which is wrong. He was in this movement hidden in the mountains, organising the Cameroonian People’s Union, and the truth about what happened has never been out.

“The emancipation of Africa interests no-one else.  People fight for their own interests and they’re right to do so.  It’s up to us Africans to defend our interests on our own.”

The album is out now on the label, Tôt ou tard.

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