OᒪÉᗰᗩ: A Cameroonian Artist Showcasing African Virtuosity with her Music

Birth in Bafoussam Cameroon and growing up in a coastal South Western city of Cameroon, Douala, before eventually moving to Paris, France, Donkeng Gompo Marlène Eurika Élodie, who goes by artistic name, OᒪÉᗰᗩ has been graced with a pretty normal upbringing in a stable household with decent education, whilst starting her artistic journey really early, as she began creating melodies, writing songs from a really young age prior to pursuing a professional career in music 4 years ago.

“It felt like a revelation to me, as a child my life was basically from home to school, from school to home. I didn’t get to do a lot beside that. I grew up a really reserved little girl, I always felt like the strange one (LMAO). Between my sisters and brothers, I was reflecting on things a child shouldn’t at that age. I still don’t know why I was bothering myself soo muchhh. . . haaaaa!

“This is what you were born for ! So, I just started executing covers, more composition, working on my skills as a musician, did a music challenge on a digital Cameroonian platform called the, Bimstrchallenge which got some recognition. Thereon, I started doing live shows, meeting people, writing and recording music, and now I am just going on with the process of being an artist I would have loved to listen to,” OᒪÉᗰᗩ narrates.

Hamid Ayodeji presents the excerpts:

Have you tried infusing your culture into the style of music you create?

Oh that is kind of my obsession! unfortunately I am from a generation that grew up mostly on foreign culture influences, the music I have been exposed to was rarely Cameroonian and when I say rarely I mean the root music that is typically ours etc…I kinda think a big part of my journey is to restore a culture that history took away from me. I feel like it is a duty for us young people to go out there and get that culture back by studying the ones who came before us and never had the opportunity to be in the spotlight. There has never been a better time than now to showcase African virtuosity. Our culture is so rich and I am ecstatic by just thinking about how many things it is possible to do with it since I have started learning more on the subject. Of course it is not simple but I keep on experimenting so watch out cause when I find the perfect balance it is going be crazy.

Do you foresee a home coming whereby you perform in front of a large audience back home, Cameroon?

Oh that would be Huge!! I absolutely foresee a show back home; I don’t exactly know if it will be possible. But I am working on making it so as soon as I can, as it is going to be super emotional and gratifying for me.

How would you describe your type of music?

I used to answer to that question and never felt satisfied with the answer. I feel like to give a fix answer to this somehow puts some limit to my creation, so now I would answer that I do music of the heart and the spirit, one day it might be soul music, the other pop music, the next day Afro music I give myself that freedom.

Via : @iamolema

What has been your greatest inspiration thus far to create music?

That’s a hard one, I consider music as a weapon, one of the greatest to get to the human heart, I recently read somewhere that, “An artist is the one who unearths what you have chosen to bury for ages.” I felt so liberated, understood, comforted just by listening to some of my favorite artists. So this is my greatest inspiration, to do the same for others.

What’s your take on the recent positive reception Afro beats and African music have received over the last decade?

I am really excited and happy to see that African music is starting to have the echo it deserves. We need to build an environment where Afro rhythms become common, as well known as those of pop music, so we can help future generations to recognize their identity in the music they love and listen to. I am really enthusiastic about this expansion. It is the beginning of a real revolution and of an increased acceptance of who we are as Africans.

Are there any African artists you will like to collaborate with, and why if any? (Includes producers)

I would love to collaborate with Wizzy the Star boy. I already gave him a nickname you seee loll!!! His music sounds so effortless and it is so catchy, Ojuelegba is forever one of my favorite African songs, so yeahh, I would love to share some flow with the Star boy. There is a Cameroonian producer too, called PaP, I am such a fan of his work he does those amazing fusion between Cameroonian rhythms and modern music, it is so intelligent damn PaP if you read this please let us work together do a beat for me I beg!

How has the reception towards your debut single Kiss of the Sun been since its release?

That was a big milestone knowing I worked on that single for almost a year, so much setbacks for that one it was crazy! I have collaborated with people I really admire, the artist who did the cover of the song really pictured my state of my mind when I was writing it, and the beat maker too is a bad ass. So far I have been really happy with the response; having people I don’t know share the song, study to it, comment on it, asking for lyrics (this means a lot to me) it is such an amazing feeling. I am already working on the next one coming really soon and it’s going to be bigger and better!!!

What project are you currently working on, any EP or Album on the way?

Sooo I am currently working on some new music in fact. An EP is coming this year. I cannot tell much about it but you guys gonna listen to the depths of my heart, expect some Afro sound, some acoustic sounds, and some olémaaaa sounds (this other one comes from cosmos only). I am so excited; the project will drop middle of the year, June probably, in between a lot of live sessions, new singles and collaborations.

Do you know how to play any musical instrument?

I am a guitarist, as guitar is my second passion after singing and writing. I am a big fan of guitarists like John Mayer, Steevy Ray Vaughan , BB King and so on. I play the piano too; my favorite pianist FOREVER is Ludovic Einaudi his sound is simple and eternal.

Are you signed to a record label?

No I am an independent artist Babyy !

Via: @iamolema

What is your perception of music?

This goes on with something I have already said, for me music is a healer, music is a companion, we speak through music, we listen through music, we let go with the help of music, we over joy with music. To sum up one more time, music is one of the most powerful weapons to get to the human heart even the toughest one!

How do you think your music has been able to impact listeners?

I describe myself as an hypersensitive lyricist haaa, even when I try to retain myself I cannot help being raw with my words, with my emotions, with my performances and I think that we are all sensitive to sincerity, I guess this is the reason why I have been able to gather fans around me and hopefully will continue. This applies not only to me but to all artists in my opinion.

Asides music is there any other gift | talent you possess?

Oh you would be surprised! Growing up I loved drawing, and I was kind of good at it; I love dancing too, hip-hop, ballroom dancing , participating in Dancing with the Stars is still on my checklist and last but not least I am a full time comedian LMAO don’t be fooled by serious pictures on Instagram.



An African Giant

Hamid Ayodeji

A true legacy dies when it is about to birth a younger tribe, sprung from freedom seeking energy and spirits. As this is the time to be alive as a Nigerian and African, considering how African art is at its peak whilst being exported to the rest of the world for consumption once again, talking about ancient and modern art without looking at what Nigerian artists brought and are still bringing to the artistic world cannot hold much water.

Hence, taking a peek at the booming musical culture of the continent, it can be pointed out that Afro-beat has earned its place on the global stage, anchored by Nigerian artist such as, Fela Anikulapo Kuti whose era of Afro-beat sound spreading like wild fire globally, coupled with powerful sounds and lyrics showed the universe that Africa had a lot to teach and influence using art as the medium of expression.

Show casing a vibe that was not heard of or experienced yet as at that time; with his Instruments, dance, lifestyle, as well as passion he educated the world on the depth of which corruption had eaten its way down to the roots of the country and how the Armed forces harassed civilians who spoke up against the wrong doings of the government, at that time.

The phase of his physical assaults by the Armed Forces is in line with a cruel government that thinks not the social development and well being of its citizens which eventually led to a platoon of soldiers storming his Resident at Ojuelegba, (the first Kalakuta Republic) in order to brutalize the people they met.

This operation by the Nigerian Armed Forces that very day as far as history is concerned, recorded the death of Mrs Funmilayo Ransom Kuti, who leaped to the Heavens after she was thrown from the balcony of the building by soldiers.

“Zombie, oh, zombie, Zombie no go go unless you tell am to go, Zombie no go stop unless you tell am to stop. No brake, no jam, no sense,” he sang on his 1976 song titled, Zombie.

Funmilayo Ransom Kuti

The departure of Mrs Funmilayo Ransom Kuti from our world, during the 1978 military regime, at Felas’s Kalakuta Republic, took a part of him that could never be entirely replaced by any other feeling creating music and illuminating the world with his sound could ever offer.

Officially nobody was held accountable for this gruesome act. However, this did not stop the music god from searching for inner peace and clarity as shortly after, Fela was known to be affiliated with a Ghanaian sorcerer, Professor Hindu, who acted as his spiritual adviser.

According to his son, Femi Kuti, in Veal’s book, “Fela changed when Hindu came into his life. Everyone now got worried because Fela wouldn’t listen to anyone except for Hindu.

“My mother said I should come out of it because it was getting too diabolical and deceitful. But I told her ‘If I leave him now, it is possible he will get killed and we will lose him forever.’

I felt this because Hindu once told Fela that if he wore a special African bulletproof vest, they could shoot him and he wouldn’t die. To prove it, Hindu got a gun and put the jacket on a goat and fired six shots to show it really worked. Later, we found out he had used blanks. But my father thought this was wonderful and he wanted to put the jacket on himself. Luckily, his elder brother said “Let’s try it on another goat, just in case. So they took this double-barreled gun–and the goat died. And Fela cried and cried. Obviously, they were cheating him”

Fela Anikulapo kuti was not just any other musical genius; he always looked for perfection and justice in everything he was conscious of, which birth an evergreen culture that can never leave those it came in contact with.