By Folefac Richard in Buffalo, New York USA.
Hundreds of Family, friends, well wishers and some international human rights advocates were present on Friday and Saturday March 28-29 2014 in Buffalo, New York for the last funeral rites for musician Lambo Pierre Roger Sanjo aka Lapiro de Mbanga.
Speakers during the two day funeral that included a wake and church service at the St Gregory the Great Roman Catholic Church in Willaimsville (Buffalo, NY) included World Bank Journalist Boh Herbert, Sidony Sandjo, Lapiro’s step sister, former Student leader Corantin Talla and guitarist Jacob Nguni, a close friend and confidant of Lapiro. Louisette Noukeu, Lapiro’s wife also spoke during his funeral calling on mourners to pray for the repose of the soul of her husband and father of her children.
Boh Herbert told the mourners that Lapiro left an indelible mark in Cameroon and will never be forgotten. Like Lapiro, he called on those left behind to emulate his example in fighting against injustice in Cameroon “Plan so that even in death, they will not triumph and I want to applaud Lapiro because he has not given them one chance to triumph even in his death. I salute you big brother” Herbert said to applause from the mourners.
Sidonie Sandjo, step sister of Lapiro who flew in from Paris for the funeral said her brother more than anyone in their large family, made them proud and known around the world through his music and fight for the respect of the rights of everyone.
She said the family was blessed and will forever miss him. Lapiro’s father Sandjo Roger Blanchard was a well known wealthy businessman.
Close friend, confident and fellow musician Jacob Nguni recounted his life-long friendship with Lapiro saying the world had lost a great man who in death, was now bigger than he was alive.
World bank economist Celestin Monga recounted how Lapiro bravely organized protest marches following his and journalist Pius Njawe’s 1991 arrest and detention for writing and publishing a newspaper editorial considered insulting to long serving president Paul Biya. He was also categorical Lapiro’s memory will live on in the collective consciousness of all Cameroonians.
Former student leader Corantin Talla said on record claims the government henchman Jean Forchive paid Lapiro to betray the opposition in 1991 were untrue. Mr Talla worked closely with Lapiro and other human right activists during the university uprisings in the early 90’s.
In a brief chat with Iroko Magazine following the funeral, Jacob Nguni said it was heart breaking non of the politicians including SDF Chairman John Fru Ndi, a comrade in arms whom he supported, bothered to send condolence messages following his demise. “Cameroonian politics, fight for human rights and freedom cannot be written without a mention of Lapiro” Mr Nguni added. He said he was proud to be a friend and brother of Lapiro and was extremely happy when his funeral attracted foreigners some of whom only heard about the man and his music after his death. His said Lapiro used his music to expose the weaknesses of the political class in Cameroon and in the end, made the ultimate sacrifice for the people.
As expected, some of Lapiro’s best known songs were played during the wake keeping that held on March 28 2014.
A grand celebration of the life of Lapiro is now being planned and will take place in Washington DC in a venue that will be announced soon.
Herewith pictures from the Funeral.
All picture credits, Folefac Richard