There are obvious reasons for listening to Makossa music-Black Styl. But there is also a less obvious reason: it is loosing its value and originality. Cameroon Concord's Eyong Eyong Ebot (Moh Kou Kouri) who also moonlights as Chairman of the Orphan Kids Help Foundation in Atlanta USA, sat down with the Great Emile Kangue one of the founding fathers of Cameroon Makossa. It is a conversation that our "Moh Kou Kouri" left out nothing!!
Cameroon Concord: Our readers would love to know how you started your music career and how you and men like Nkotti Desto formed the group "Black Styl"
Emile Kangue: The beginning of my career was with my late mother who held me every evening to accompany her for choir practice. That was where I learnt to sing. During my secondary school days I joined a music group in Edea. It was from there that I developed the courage to start singing in many live bands and cabaret. If my memory does not fail me, it all started with “Ratio Bar, to Canne a Sure Bar and then to Ambiance Bar in Quartier Gare and to L’orfecam jazz. I later moved to Douala where I played regularly in Cameoun Bar in Quartier Bali. It is important for the records to note that I played with the late famous singer Epee Mbende Richard and with my cousin Mbangue Marcel Theophile who offered me some musical equipment. Destiny took me to the group Cornichons that paved the way for my union with the famous Black Styl in Davum Bar in Bonakwamang. As you are already aware, joining Black Styl remains the best thing that ever happened to me.
Cameroon Concord: What was the driving force in the group Black Styl?
Emile Kangue: It is hard to say my dear journalist. It was neither the leader nor the men in the group. To be honest with you, we were all young people and what was important was that we worked hard to become famous like other great artists during that era.
Cameroon Concord: What happened that all of you Toto, Desto including yourself decided to go solo?
Emile Kangue: Separation has never been a topic or issue deep within the Black Styl family. As an African, you are very much aware that whenever a family head produces children and the children think that they are mature enough, they start looking for other challenges. Moving away from the family setting, you can testify that so many international music groups have separated. However, Kangue is telling you today, tomorrow and forever that Black Styl remains united and strong in spirit till this day.
Cameroon Concord: Your life in Cameroon was never that easy. Some of your fans do not actually know what really went wrong that you were arrested and jailed some years ago in Cameroon? Can you talk us through that part of your life?
Emile Kangue:(laughs) There is nothing in that question.
Cameroon Concord: There is something in the question!!
Emile Kangue: Well, I think I should share this with you and your readers. I have very bad memories of that period and issue. I really had vowed never to revisit that period of my life. However, I now know that life as a whole has its ups and downs. For instance, you can see where some of our great African personalities have found themselves today!! Every one of those former ministers has his or her own story to tell after Kondengui. I have put that period of my life behind and I thank God for given me the wisdom and courage to do so.
Cameroon Concord: Makossa yesterday!! Makossa today!! Which period do you fancy?
Emile Kangue:(smile) That is a catchy question!! Makossa that was born in my time remains the best!! Cameroon Concord knows it, the whole world knows it. The Makossa that pushed you to come and share this conversation with Emile Kangue is the one that gives you the passion and keeps you alive and active when you listen to it. For Makossa today, I do not want someone to brandish me as being jealous. So I leave that to you.
Cameroon Concord: You now live in the US!! Do you regret not having made the move long before now?
Emile Kangue: (laughs) I am a grasshopper that can travel millions of kilometres without getting tired. I do not hate Cameroon. It remains my beautiful country that gave me life and the foundation that I used in migrating to the USA. Maybe, the Cameroonian authorities are better place to explain why people like us are leaving the country every day.
Cameroon Concord:Do you fear for the future of Makossa or are you hopeful?
Emile Kangue:(laughs hard) I cannot answer that question. Kindly address that question to you Cameroonian journalists who spend all your time playing foreign music over Cameroon radio and television (laughs long)
Cameroon Concord: Any last word to our readers?
Emile Kangue: I should first of all thank you for coming to share this conversation with me. I actually heard about Cameroon Concord from an English speaking Cameroonian brother of mine and he hinted me that you guys do not joke with what you do. So I was afraid to show up for this interview when your Editor-in-Chief contacted me from Dublin. However, I have enjoyed my time with you. My only advise is directed to our new musicians and it is that before they put any product into the market, they should be sure it is of good quality.