Blick Bassy has released the new video for ‘Ngwa’, the first track to emerge from his forthcoming new album. Co-produced by Blick and Renaud Letang (Feist, Saul Williams, Lianne La Havas, Charlotte Gainsbourg), it’s the first new music from Bassy since his acclaimed 2015 release, Akö. ‘Ngwa’ is a tribute to the heroes who fought and died for the independence of Bassy’s native Cameroon, sung in his ancestral Bassa language.
Black Bassy, signed to No Format (Oumou Sangaré, Chilly Gonzales, ALANI), Blick’s new single release ‘Ngwa’ (co-produced by Renauld Letang, also behind Feist & Lianne La Havas releases) is informed by the death of one of the forgotten heroes of Cameroonian’s fight for independence, Ruben Um Nyobé. Founder of the Union Of Cameroonian Peoples (UPC), Um Nyobé was shot dead by the French army on 13th September, 1958. The track – dedicated to Um Nyobé – arrives via this emotive video, filmed in the stunning hills of South Africa’s Lesotho, with direction from fast-rising South African talent Tebogo Malope, winner of the Cannes Gold Lion prize.
Speaking about the clip – across which his freedom fighter character is hunted down by French soldiers – Blick says:
“In school we studied the French version of what happened. The way I learned it in the books was that they were agitators, troublemakers. Which is wrong. Um Nyobé was in this movement hidden in the mountains, organising the Cameroonian People’s Union, and the truth about what happened has never been out.”
‘Ngwa’ is particularly dedicated to the memory of 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. The UPC had been campaigning for fifteen years, during which time many people died, something which has been subtly annihilated from history by the French and Cameroonian state until recently.
Um Nyobé, like Blick, was from the Bassa region and ethnic group, known, after many years of displacement and exploitation by European traders to be anti-colonialist. Blick wants to shed light on his story, saying; “In school we studied the French version of what happened. The way I learned it in the books was that they were agitators, troublemakers. Which is wrong. Um Nyobé 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 new video for ‘Ngwa’ has been shot in the breathtaking scenery of South Africa’s Lesotho, with direction from fast-rising South African talent Tebogo Malope (also named Tebza). A recipient of the Cannes Gold Lion prize, Malope was also recently behind the ambitious video for Kwesta track ‘Spirit’, which has clocked over 4 million views to date. A meditation on the relationship between present-day Cameroon and its former French colonisers, Malope’s affecting visuals capture Blick embodying not only the spirit of Um Nyobé the man, but also the Cameroonian nation, and their intrinsic cultural identity.
Speaking about the video – across which Bassy’s character is hunted down by French soldiers – Malope says; “The narrative of Ruben Um Nyobé is one that resonates throughout the continent, one that is still grappling with the legacy of colonialism and attempts to redress the consequences thereof. This is echoed in the video’s initial scenes which reference renowned Kenyan renowned Author Ngugi Wa Thiongo’s book ‘Matigari’, where a freedom fighter lays down his arms for a supposed prosperous future where bloodshed shall be no more. Will he regret the decision? Another representation at the video’s end spawns from the images of a lifeless freedom fighter turning into a tree, reminiscent of South African political icon Solomon Mahlangu, who was killed by the Apartheid government. His last words before his death were “My blood will nourish the tree that will bear the fruits of freedom.”
Speaking about what drove him to write ‘Ngwa’ – which translates in English to ‘my friend’ – for Um Nyobé, Blick says; “Ngwa, I wanted to pay tribute to your fight, our fight, but also to your philosophy, where the values of equality, antiracism, anti xenophobia, serve emancipation and fulfilment for every human being.”
Now based in France, Blick’s music first took shape with the award-winning band Macase with whom he released many albums, culminating in the release of Akö, which included the track ‘Kiki’, used to launch the iPhone 6 in 2015.