In his final act of defiance against a government he fought against all his life, Pierre Roger Lambo Sandjo aka Lapiro De Mbanga 56, will be cremated on March 28 2014 in Buffalo, New York in the USA where he died. Iroko Magazine learnt close family members politely turned down offers from Culture Minister Ama Tutu through Sam Fan Thomas to help with funeral arrangements in repatriating his remains to Cameroon for a home burial..
Lapiro died from prostate cancer which was diagnosed early in 2008. Prison authorities apparently with orders from Yaounde refused to treat the cancer when Lapiro began his three year sentence for instigating youths to destroy state property in February 2008 during food hike riots and plans to amend the constitution so that Mr Biya qualifies to contest presidential elections in October 2011.Because the disease was not treated early, it quickly spread and became incurable by the time Lapiro traveled to the USA with his family in September 2012.
Lapiro denied the accusations claiming he was arrested because of his highly critical song “constitution constipee“ in which he condemned the constitutional changes.
“Lapiro used music to criticize the policies of the government and they did not like that and wanted to punish him” according to Jacob Nguni, close friend and confidant of the late musician.
Mr Nguni said Lapiro never forgave Cameroonian authorities for refusing him treatment when his illness was first diagnosed. By the time he travelled to the USA, the cancer had spread and could not be controlled again.
Talking about the last days of the legendary musician’s life, Mr Nguni said Lapiro deteriorated quickly around February 24 2014 and died on Sunday March 16 2014 in the presence of his close family and friends.
In a telephone interview with Iroko Magazine, Mr Nguni also said Lapiro could have faced fresh charges after his initial three years ended like Titus Edzoa but was only released because government officials were frightened his death in detention could lead to riots across the country. He added he was shocked Cameroonian authorities could be so vindictive and refuse treatment to a sick man no matter how critical he was of their policies
Mr Nguni a former guitarist with Prince Nico’s Rocafil Jazz band added it was sad after fighting so hard for his people and country, Lapiro will be buried miles away in a foreign land because of the intransigence of the government.
“Lapiro will be bigger in death than in life and there is nothing anybody can do about that” an obviously angry Mr Nguni still grieving following the sudden death of Lapiro whom he knew for more than 40 years said. He added that Lapiro will be remembered as one of the best known freedom fighters in Cameroon.
Mr Nguni was categorical he was still in shock following the death of his childhood friend under such avoidable circumstances. Prison authorities in Douala have refused to accept or deny they were prevented from treating Lapiro when he was first diagnosed. A Close family source of Lapiro told Iroko Magazine the Cameroon government might be dragged to court for indirectly causing the death of the prize winning musician
There are plans to hold two memorials for Lapiro in the USA, one in Buffalo where he died and another in Washington. Similar memorials will be held in France and a couple of other European capitals in the coming days and weeks