Home The News Eulogy: Guy Lobe as I knew him!
Eulogy: Guy Lobe as I knew him!
News / Latest / Ernest Kanjo / Wednesday, 18 March 2015 21:29

Guylobe  tiptopstarsAwareness is good, but could be regretted sometimes. Occasionally, we have, for sure, told ourselves that we had better not seen, heard, known, taken part in, etc. Then, at this point, non-awareness becomes the safest state. The ongoing loud cry that the standards of makossa (Cameroon’s identity genre) have drastically dropped has been such a hard pill to swallow to people of the brand’s blooming generation to an extent that they just opt to stay mute about it. How would they react? What would they say? How can they explain what is going on? How long will this current belief last? How come makossa even went down the drain in the first place? Endless question – yet, difficult to answer!

Just before scribbling this eulogy, this writer, in a conversation with a young Cameroonian of the Afro-hop generation drowned himself in a deep reflection. The latter’s very little knowledge about Guy Lobe, Cameroon’s legendary makossa singer just fallen, did not surprise me. He was not born of the generation that lived the sweet glories of the Cameroonian genre. “He is the lucky one,” I told myself. “He won’t have to fry his head nor sink in such misery we are going through.” Of course, the young man won’t have to batter his thoughts about the genre that is not falling alone, but fading along with its heroes. Then, I began to understand how non-awareness at times could be safer.

But, the Guy Lobe generation has to bear this weight – no choice! I now assigned myself the task of explaining what Guy Lobe meant and still means to Cameroon. My listener was interested for an obvious reason – in this Hip-Hop age, if a makossa artist of yesteryears becomes prominent on social media, then there is more to it than meets the eyes. So, he gave me his attention.

In my exposé, I told the keen listener that Guy Lobe is (hate to use ‘was’ in this case) to makossa/Cameroonian music what Michael Jackson was to Pop. He owns some of the richest chapters in the enviable history book of the country’s music history. Makossa, today being said to have hit the rock was and in some places in the world still considered as the genre that has created an indelible mark in the history of African music. Its power spilled across the boundaries of Cameroon. This was thanks to some icons, amongst them the fallen hero, Guy Lobe.

As young school boys, I told my listener, we savoured Guy’s music like mad. His style was unique. His duala (Cameroonian mother tongue spoke by natives the country’s coastal region and the economic capital Douala) was clear enough to be synchronized and you had the impression (even when you did not hail from Douala) that you understood what Guy was singing about. His French wordings came out so clearly. His pidgin (lingua franca) was decodable. Guy’s voice was the irresistible charm. Perhaps, his own makossa beats were those that whisked you off your seat, even if your music senses were numb. In short, Guy made likeable!

He was a Douala boy and they knew how to brand themselves! His cassette jackets were a representation of brilliant stylishness with designer outfit that were meant for him alone. Guy and co had ferried makossa to Europe, to France were it was known, liked and savoured. He would tour Africa, Europe and the rest of the world and provided his audiences with the infinite pleasure of enjoying Esele Mba, Mon Ami a Moi, Solitude, Union Libre, Degager, etc.

Just like other musicians at the time, Guy Lobe was a celebrity. This meant you would always express your wish to watch him perform live someday. Cameroonians living in the then Provincial (today regional) headquarters occasionally had the opportunity to do so when he came calling in one of those famous music caravans that were en vogue back in the days. For others, TV had to do the trick. And so excitement and anxiety would take control of the scene each time CTV (later CRTV – Cameroon Radio and Television) Speakerines (as programme announcers were described) announced that Guy Lobe was going to be guest on Tele Podium. Tele Podium was a crowd-pulling music show run by ace singer Elvis Kemayo. We would defy sleep, stay awake to watch the makossa icon do his thing later in the night on the show. It was the same scenario with V Comme Vedette, hosted by Foly Dirane or Tropicana by Rose Mbole Epie. If Guy Lobe was going to be guest on Tam-Tam Weekend, it was the same excitement.

For one thing, Guy was a gifted composer. You would have the impression that each day he went to sleep, he woke up with a new song. This was reflected in his consistent release of a new album every year. In fact, the time lapse between Cocou (1990) and Malinga (1991) would have been just a couple of months.

As time went by, Guy gathered more fame, fans, friends. He inspired many along the way and whipped in serious decisions in some – the decision to ply the music road in the quest to give their country what big brother had given with his all. Makossa maestros such as Papillon, Nguea La Route and Sergeo Polo became pioneer examples of Guy’s disciples. The trio are said to be related to the fallen singer, the first two biologically.

In the mid 2000s, Sergeo Polo had a couple of scintillating tracks with Guy Lobe, amongst them the sweet-sounding Africaines, folkloric Alliance and Jenny. Those songs were a manifestation of brilliant vocalizations exhibited by the duo. And each featuring Guy Lobe did earlier or later was a masterpiece.

It’s true in recent years, the makossa legend had slowed down his pace, naturally stemming from his elderliness. However, an unfortunate heart accident (as Guy himself put it in an interview) kept him really low-keyed within the last two to three years. Earlier rumours of his passing on had been dispelled and his fellow country folks were glad to know Guy was still alive, until his last breathe came on Monday March 16, 2015, exactly one year after Lapiro de Mbanga (of blessed memory) bid bye.

Shock and consternation, but consolation in the fact that Guy Lobe had lived a professionally fulfilled life! If his makossa was his own contribution to Cameroon’s cultural development, then Guy scored excellent. He may have gone, but his music plays on. But wait – artists done pass on – they live forever! Long live Guy Lobe, the bao! Vive l’artiste! Vive Guy!

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 March 2015 18:49


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