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Francis Bebey

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Douala, Cameroon

Francis Bebey (1929–2001) was a Cameroonian artist, musician, and writer. Bebey was born in 1929 in Douala, Cameroon. He attended the Sorbonne and Paris, France, and received further education in the United States. In 1957, Bebey moved to Ghana at the invitation of Kwame Nkrumah to all Africans from non-independent territories. Bebey took a job as a broadcaster.

In the early 1960s, Bebey moved to France and started work in the arts, establishing himself as a musician, sculptor, and writer. His most popular novel was Agatha Moudio’s Son. His writing and music often cross-fertilised, and he performed a song by that name, as well (Agatha). He also worked as a consultant for UNESCO.

Bebey released his first album in 1969. His music was primarily guitar-based, although he integrated traditional African instruments as well. His style was groundbreaking, merging Cameroonian with , , and , in a mix that could be intellectual, humorous, or serious. He sang in Duala, English, and French. Bebey had a strong impact on later performers. For example, he gave Manu Dibango his big break when Dibango came to work for him in Paris. Bebey released more than 20 albums over his career. He died in 2001.

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