The emblematic gospel music singer-composer and founder of the legendary choral group Tribute Sisters, Adeline Mbenkum has rallied both male and female Cameroonian musicians in support of Prince Ndedi Eyango and his ideals.
This is happening at a time when Eyango and Tutu Muna are virtually at daggers-drawn and have consummated their enmity in the public eye.
The current is clearly not flowing between Adeline Mbenkum, the acclaimed gospel music singer-composer and the minister of Arts and Culture, Ama Tutu Muna.
Barely months after the minister annulled the elections that saw Ndedi Eyango elected as president of the musicians rights body – SOCAM and after Eyango protested vigorously and even went to court to seek legal redress for what he considered as the minister’s volte-face, Adeline Mbenkum who hails from the North West region like Tutu Muna and who should naturally be considered as a sister to the minister, has sided with Eyango in preference to Ama Tutu Muna.
Adeline Mbenkum has launched a new association of musicians and says the association seeks to defend and support the ideas and ideals of Prince Ndedi Eyango.
Dubbed “Association of Cameroon Female and Male Musicians of Integrity –ACAFEMMI, the new grouping also seeks to contribute to the development of the musical careers of musicians and to fight misery and poverty in order to improve their living conditions,” said Adeline Mbenkum, at a popular ceremony to launch ACAFEMMI in Yaounde, on Tuesday 12 August 2014.
“In an environment of frustration due to the disastrous situation in which Cameroonian music has been plunged today, creators of musical works are at a loss as to where to turn to.
Their hopes and dreams have been dashed,” laments Adeline Mbenkem, who says it is in a bid to promote hard work, complementarity, integrity and emergence, which are the guiding principles of ACAFEMMI that she and other musicians decided to come together and engage in the development of professionalism in the Cameroonian music industry.
She says the men and women of ACAFEMMI will work in symbiosis to fight against the misery and precariousness that characterizes the Cameroonian music milieu.
Mbenkum explained that her inspiration to create ACAFEMMI came from Prince Ndedi Eyango, way back in November 2013, when in his inaugural speech after winning the SOCAM elections, Eyango exhorted Cameroonian musicians to stop throwing stones at each other and concentrate on building their careers.
“We should go to the radios and promote our albums, our associations and trade unions that defend and promote our rights and values… We should stop insulting, destroying and blackmailing one other….. We should go to the studios and produce good, competitive albums and get them properly distributed and marketed.
It is only in this way that we can harvest freely and honorably the fruits of our efforts and our labour,” Adeline Mbenkum quoted Ndedi Eyango as preaching to musicians.
In effect, Adeline Mbenkum enjoined her colleagues of the music milieu to breakaway with the past; eschew the dependency syndrome and to stop counting on a ministry of Arts and Culture that has instead helped to compound the problems of musicians rather than solve them.
For a start, ACAFEMMI has rallied some 20 musicians from all the 10 regions of the country to produce an album “Integrity” that would be launched in all ten regions beginning 31 October 2014. The launchings will culminate in the installation of regional heads of ACAFEMMI, Adeline Mbenkum said, adding that an international tour will follow as from March 2015.
It is however, not immediately understood why Adeline Mbenkum has decided to turn her back on her sister Ama Tutu Muna, preferring to rally instead with Ndedi Eyango.
We understand that despite being one of the most popular and highly respected Anglophone musicians (Adeline Mbenkum was running mate and vice president of SOCAM under Odille Ngaska and Prince Ndedi Eyango. It is even believed that the mere fact that her name featured in the lists of these musicians contributed in no small measure in the victory of both Odille Ngaska and Prince Eyango.
But observers say Ama Tutu Muna has not seen in Adeline Mbenkum someone whom she can work with and someone who can help her to surmount the log-jam she has had to grapple with ever since she became the supervisory minister of artistes in Cameroon.
It is understood that this deliberate refusal by Ama Tutu Muna to acknowledge the potentials of Adeline Mbenkum is not taken kindly by Mbenkum. This is more so because Adeline Mbenkum has always proved her willingness and readiness to support her sister Ama Tutu Muna.
It should be recalled that sometime in 2008, when Ama Tutu Muna was in serious battles with Sam Mbende over the proscription of CMC, Adeline Mbenkum rallied musicians to march pass on 1st May in Yaounde to show their solidarity and support for the minister.
Also, when Odille Ngaska took office as president of SOCAM, Adeline Mbenkum, who was the vice president, later abdicated her position, decrying Odille Ngaska’s management style. She said Odille was not a team player and was misappropriating musicians’ money. And she made her position known to the minister.
But apparently Tutu Muna did not believe Adeline Mbenkum, not until musicians started crying scandal and complaining that Odille Ngaska had embezzled their money. It took the minister’s fiat for Odille Ngaska to be disgraced out of office.
It is difficult to tell for how long the bad blood between Adeline Mbenkum and Ama Tutu Muna would last. But observers are of the opinion that it was better the two sisters managed their seemingly bloated egos and work together and hand in hand for the development of the Cameroonian music industry at Balemba in Yaounde.