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  • Dibussi Tande

    This weblog is based on DIBUSSI TANDE's personal views on people, places, issues and events in Cameroon, Africa and the world!


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« Fourth Edition of Acclaimed Historical Dictionary of Cameroon Now Available | Main | Cameroon: A country not measuring up to its vast potential »

May 23, 2010


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Dzekashu MacViban

Very enlightening. It is so annoying that we are exploited time and again and in most cases we are powerless.Nevertheless, we will continue to fight back.


We used to sing that song, and pronounced it as "Zankariwa", as boy scouts in the 1960s. Its origins we thought was from the "Royal West African Frontier Force" in WW2 and probably before. At that time, we thought it was a Hausa song, because there were lots of Hausa chaps in the RWAFF and the lyrics of that song do sound vaguely Hausa. Someone familiar with Hausa could confirm.


African lawyers in the US should broaden their portfolios to pursuing these kinds of intellectual property lawsuits instead of chicken feed immigration law. The only way to discourage this practice is through punitive multimillion dollar settlements.

When artists like Tim say stuff like: "Tim says he was not really interested in the money and simply wanted to “restore the historical truth [and] let intellectual honesty and intellectual property triumph.”" I think, these guys have no clue how the West, particularly America works. When you play noble like that, they think you are an idiot, and they will rip you off again or rip off the next guy after you.

Fatou A. Minah

Africa, constant "donor" to the West.

On Africa

Thanks for that Dibussi!
Very thourough and informative! I has picked on the story of the song as chronicled by WFMU radio and made a post about it in Spanish but didn't know about the settlement reached with Zangelewa.
And couldn't agree more with your final points that it's not only about the money and exposure, but about intellectual rights and recognition!


FIFA should be ashamed to hand-pick an latino-american SHAKIRA with an African BEAT/song ZANGALEWA to come to Africa and make noise. Why not give it to the Zangalewa team to do it them selves.
let Shakira come and pretend - we will listern, just as every western decisions are being honored in Afrca - by African leaders


Oh macbright, stop being xenophobic! During the 1998 world cup in France, the anthem was a song by Youssou N'dour & Axelle Red (belgian) titled “La cour des grands”. I didn't hear complaints that an African had no place singing the WC anthem in a European country.

Shakira has every right to sing the anthem for a "World" / global competition. Our problem is that she must pay royalties. Nothing more. No double standards please!


I downloaded the Tim and Foty tunes from your link in the article. Only $8, very good. These are Very nice tunes, but many of the beats and rhythms borrowed HEAVILY from 1970s American funk and R&B. With a little work, I can even tag them directly to the specific records from which they borrowed. Just listen to "Funky Bafoussam". Back then, it could have caused them a lot of trouble, but for the fact that their audience was a small and mostly in Africa.

What is fair is fair. They borrowed and somebody borrowed from them. All music is derivative; very seldom do we encounter a totally new invention.

R. Ekosso

Really, Facter?

Which song does "Funky Bafoussam" borrow from? I think if you're going to make a statement like that, you might as well tell us where the borrowing is. Otherwise it just sounds like pushing back for the sake of pushing back.

Dr A A Agbormbai

This is a powerful article that deals with a real problem concerning the exploitation of Cameroonian and African creativity without due credit or reward.

To Westerners, Africans are subhumans who do not deserve to benefit by the works of their intellects. They are slaves whose job is to do free work for Westerners.

As such when they create music, art, or other works of the mind they are merely providing free food for Westerners to use as they like.

If the African has a low self-image today at least 90% of this is due to the West... its perpetual dehumanisation and exploitation of Africans in every domain possible.

From slavery through colonisation to the post-colonial era of racism and double standards, the West has trampled on the African psyche like a man tramples upon sand or mud... objects beneath his consideration!

Africans must fight back, and continue to fight back!

Dr A A Agbormbai

"Back to those who believe that the Zangalewa should just enjoy their 15 minutes of fame and shut up..."

These are people who themselves pirate musical productions rather than pay for it. When they hear a good song they think the artist slept overnight and dreamed it up.

They don't know the hard work and commitment that goes into thinking up and creating anything because they have never created anything in their lives.

All they've ever done is consume. It is not surprising for some (even many) Cameroonians to make such comments. They live in a society of consumers. People who consume, consume, and consume yet again. They never think about producing!

Joan Awung Foretia


Thank you for this great post and public awareness on the plight of our artists. In matters of this nature we have to absolutely be our brothers’ keepers. I am glad that Manu, Tala and the other artists have fought for their rights to recognition and royalties etc. We can’t sit back and watch our art work, music etc. being stolen in broad daylight. Thank God for the internet, artists out there could trace who's stealing from who. We have to hold strongly on to what we have left and fight back to get what is ours.

Your post is worthy of an online campaign to solicit funds for Ngando Picket to go after PUMA. We can’t let him throw his hands in the air; we need to support him knowing full well that if we don’t, PUMA will get away with this exploitation. It is ridiculous for any one to insinuate that our artists should take their fame and run with it (so to speak). They deserve their share of the pie. Western artists can not use their works to make tons of money and refuse them recognition and royalty. PUMA can not use Ngando’s face for free; he needs to be compensated. This is a fight I am very willing to be a part of.

This guy deserves recognition on many levels and a hefty financial compensation for that matter. First, the guy is a breathing work of art; it is not easy for anyone to sit and have their entire body plastered with “God knows what chemicals.” He’s the indomitable Lion’s mascot. Here in the US, the mascots wear a costume but ours is natural; his whole physique is a natural mascot and as the face for the indomitable lions’ fans, the energy he brings in the games is incredible. Although I was told that MTN Cameroon is his current sponsor, I agree with you that these artists deserve recognition for their work, permission to use their work and royalties from proceeds that is accrued from their works.

We have been taken advantage of for far too long. Fighting back is our only resolve at this point. We can certainly find some lawyers to take on this case. It is contemptuous and a violation to have some one’s picture out there on BILLBOARDS without his permission.

Joan Foretia.

Elton Elis

I don’t think this is necessarily" undermining African intellectual and artistic rights" as it is undermining artistic rights in general. This sort of thing happens all the time especially now with the ease of access to music worldwide and from different eras. it goes both ways Busta Rhymes has sampled Manu Dibango as the late Kotto Bass sampled Chuck Mangione a US artist. I don’t think Mangione was credited on the Kotto Bass album either, I could be wrong. I think this should be encouraged as long as the original artist is credited. It opens new avenues for music of different culture to be appreciated and that can only be a good thing for both artist and cultures. Bye the way, the worst case of such abuse is the “Lion sleeps tonight” written by Solomon Linda who never got credit for it even as it became on of the most popular songs in this our great country

Ras Tuge

Mola Tande,

where can i buy Tim and Foty's CD? Do you know?



Hi Ras Tuge,

Do a Google search for "Tim and Forty Greatest Hits" and you will find numerous sites that sell the CDs. However, as someone pointed out on postnewsline, it is cheaper to buy the digital versions on amazon or itunes and then burn them onto a CD.


Very enlightening article indeed. Thanks.
It's rather unfortunate that copyright laws are being broken with such disdain and by the very Western world who claim to be head above the rest in civility.
As for those who are trying to put down 'Zangalewa' and Ngando Picket for demanding what is rightfully theirs in terms of royalties etc, shame on you!!!
Please if you can, go to www.songsfromabove.com and listen to a song by Cameroonian brothers for the World Cup. It could be the fans African World Cup song' done by our countrymen. Enjoy it and please spread the word if you like it.

Ajong Stanislaus

Hi Folks!
We will remain enslaved 2 the West if we fail 2 assert oueselves when the need arises.
PUMA has a contract with the Indominable Lions which was signed in Y'de.They carryon bsness in Cameroon.
Musicians sell their music allover the world, use the statistics of the sale 4 their popularity , awards & are entitled 2 royalties from the globe.
Plse, any aggrieved Party can sue in cameroon.
I am afraid we might have lost confidence in our system or in our Lawyers.
Dibussi keep up.

a. hammagaadji

Thank you so much for this article. Can you please give me permission to add a link to it on my next newsletter? Click the link below to see my latest newsletter which is published weekly. Please reply by e-mail if possible. Thanks.


Hi a. hammagaadji,

Feel free to link to the article

Anita Etta

Great article Dibussi, very informative and thought provoking. As a recording artist, I think it is alright to borrow ideas from whatever source one gets the inspiration from at that time, but they key is that credit must be given where it is due. The source must be acknowledged and should benefit from the proceeds arising from this. My big question is do you know what the Cameroon music association is saying about this, or what role they may have played or not played in assisting with this and other cases in the past? This is just one more reason why we as Cameroonians or Africans need to get better organized in order to minimize the chances of being taken advantage of like this.

Rachel M

Great informative and exhaustive article!
Well done on the research and facts. People who say that these artists should simply be happy that their songs were used have never had anything of value stolen from them. This is really a naive view which allows Africa to continue to be looted by the West.

Dayo Ogunyemi

As an African who ran an entertainment law practice in NY, I'm very happy to see this detailed and well-reasoned account. I agree completely with you that we really do have to raise awareness within Africa about the value of IP, and remedies that are available to counter culture vultures.

In an article written 7 years ago, I argued that "Africans must lose any naïveté about how IP rights are managed and exploited in developed economies. Historically, African content creators have had a lack of awareness about the international market value of their IP creations as well as the complexities of copyright and contract law that govern their trade. This has meant that more sophisticated international operators have been able to cheaply or surreptitiously acquire and control critical rights in areas as diverse as medicinal formulas and music. Other African IP assets like folklore, traditional medical remedies and traditional symbols and designs are regularly “discovered” by western visitors who then assert that the communities that created these knowledge assets have no property claims to them, only to turn around and introduce them into western markets as proprietary IP assets."

The full article is available at http://musicwars.blogspot.com/2006/02/selling-african-knowledge-developing.html but I really hope that another 7 years from now, we're not preaching the same sermon.

Azofainfa A.

I think you want to steal a popular song which has been in the Cameroonian tradition for who know how long and which should stay in the public domain and seal it under your God "The Copyright".
If there has been so many versions of the song is because it was in the public domain and no one has the right to stop anyone from creating a new version.
That's the same reason why Shakira has no right over the song (Except the right over the exact version she made).
Like Wilfrido Vargas said about sueing Shakira: "Why would I sue her about a song which is not mine".

The song is a song of the people, it should stay in the public domain.

The second comment in this post points out that they used to sing the song back in the 60s. Should they sue Golden Sounds? If your argument about Shakira's version was valid, then the answer should be yes!

Besides, I don't think Shakira's song is a plagiarism of Zangalewa. If I didn't know about all this stuff and had listened both songs I wouldn't had been able to find a link between them, aside from the fact that both take the chorus of a popular song and add their own lyrics and music to it. They are two completely different versions.

About the other cases you could be right, to me it looks like that's the case. But if you were a bit honest you should change the title of the post. It sounds like you want to draw attention to yourself and not to the real problem.

Nina Mayers

Well said!!! Lets stop the mediocrity and settling for less.


Azofainfa writes:

"Besides, I don't think Shakira's song is a plagiarism of Zangalewa. If I didn't know about all this stuff and had listened both songs I wouldn't had been able to find a link between them, aside from the fact that both take the chorus of a popular song and add their own lyrics and music to it. They are two completely different versions."

Well, the first time I heard the very beginning of Shakira's Waka Waka, I knew instantly that it was a remix of the Zangalewa tune. And I was not the only one...

So while it can be argued that the chorus is in the public domain (who made that determination? Cameroonian law or the Western backers of Shakira?) the rest of the song is a Zangalewa creation. Shakira and Sony refused to acknowledge this when the first version of the song called Zaminamina was released. And it was only after the uproar that the Golden Sounds were credited. So however we dice it, Shakira used a Golden Sound beat - again forget about the chorus - and therefore should credit and compensate them.

The bullying of the West has gone on for far too long. It is time for the rest of the World, Africa in particular, to fight back.

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