Music plays a very significant role in the lives of Africans. Many do music for fun and the love of it. Many talents are not discovered in the continent of Africa because of poverty and a lack of infrastructure. In Africa, many artists can’t afford a livelihood because of the inability to have access to sponsors. It’s always a delight to discover a talented artist anywhere in Africa.
Moken Nunga is among the finest grain of singers you will find on planet earth. He’s gifted all round. Naturally he possesses an excellent voice that has attracted a lot of foreign music lovers in the United States who describe him as an “adorable singer.” In a chat, he relates to me how he started the journey of music at an early age learning to sing and dance while in church in his home country Cameroon.
Childhood Memory of Moken in “Victoria” Cameroon, known today as Limbe. Below is an excerpt of Moken in which he describes his childhood artistic performance and some special events.
“I vividly remembered as a seven year old, the white “four pocket” long sleeve jacket I wore with grey “khaki pants” and brown shoes to a birthday party at a house beside the motor park in Limbe. On that day I won my first dance competition. My life as a teenage boy was always highlighted by the special outfits and shoes made possible by my mother. She purchased for assorted special occasions, notably New Year’s Eve, Christmas celebrations, birthdays and some special Sunday services. So I always have in mind that I was showing off something special, because my mother and father adored me alongside my sister’s friends; all this making me special.”
“I have always paid attention to the clothes I wore since childhood. An example is my Catholic mission school “khaki pants” and my blue shirts; I fell in love with “khakis. Even popular elementary school songs and village folklore songs stuck in my memory in special ways, like a recorder this songs were kept somewhere special within me, and growing up in my teenage years, I knew they will one day pay off something special for the entire world.”
“Then comes my early teens, I became this vibrant little Tom Sawyer in town, I sang and danced to all the hit “makossa” rhythms, and truly I was addicted to the songs of Manu Dibango, a seasoned Cameroonian musician, the sound and the driving soul makossa dance beats of “makossa” in the late 70s and 80s sounded so different under the Cameroonian afternoon tropical sun, which prompted me to dance and invent new styles.”
The passing away of Moken’s father when he was just nine still has an effect on him today. Moken believes his father influenced his dressing code, sense of style and ability to compose his own songs. He taps from his father and remembers the evening gatherings in which the father retold folklore tales and songs at night with the moonlight shinning. Moken therefore believes the father plays a role in his musical career.
Today Moken plays the organ, especially the guitar, and composes and sings his own music thanks to his father’s influence. He also pays tribute to his late mother whose spiritual influence help bring him to the reality of the spirit. He stated that his mother’s influence is a force to reckon with. To him, his mother encouraged him to sing and dance at the Apostolic Church Limbe which has a lot of positive bearings in his musical career today. Moken’s maiden audio album “Chapters of my life” is a testimony of how his journey has been fruitful. He started as an amateur singer in Cameroon and now plays professional music in the United States inspired by Cameroon’s artists like Manu Dibango, Misse Ngoh, Nkotti Francois, and Ben Decca.
Moken’s Other Works of Art
Moken didn’t pursue university education in his home country even though today he’s a college graduate with an American degree. In Cameroon, Moken ventured into drawings and paintings, carvings and engravings in which the father loves to an extent that he introduced him to a Ghanaian artist by the name of Max Muller Opuku who became his art mentor. After a short apprenticeship with Mr Opuku, he left the shop to him and travelled. Moken became the only artist in Limbe with an art shop, making T shirts, sign posts, etc.
Moken’s workshop was like a vocational school where all the young boys visited and requested to learn and he would entertain them with his favourite songs. He is an excited man and a hospitable individual who provided accommodation to some African foreign musicians who visited Limbe at the time, such as Merlend ”Zaire” solo guitarist and Papa Peter, a well know Nigerian saxophonist.
Moken is on the edge of joining forces with other Cameroonian artists to revamp the “makossa” music which has been relegated to the background with the infiltration of music from Nigeria and Congo into the Cameroonian market. The audio CD entitled “Chapters of my Life” is out and ready for consumption. In a radio interview with Kilimandjaro radio Toronto, Moken called for Cameroonians and Africans alike to support and sponsor his music.