“Elimb’a Dikalo” is the Duala (African language) expression for “Radio”, literally the drum of story-telling. It is also a track by Cameroonian singer-songwriter Eboa Lotin and a song that defines him: he honestly speaks (sings), like what he would expect of a self-respecting radio to broadcast, about life and its social events, good and bad without sweeping anything under the rug.
In spite of his relatively small amount of releases (about 70 songs and an unfinished album), he is one of the best known and treasured African singer-songwriters of his generation, as well as one of the few ambassador-storytellers deemed griots by talent (as opposed to by blood) in Africa, from Ivory Coast to Gabon via Benin, Central Africa, Cameroon, DR Congo and further.
He spoke many languages including his native Duala but also Lingala which gave him high popularity in the Democratic Republic of Congo and other African countries that shared the language. Thanks to his bringing his music and languages across countries, many tribes realised a fact that started to be buried with the oral knowledge of the ancestors and the times: that tribes define themselves beyond the artificial borders of profiting-man-made countries.
His music is simple and without frills, maybe because as he would say he knew nothing about music theory. However his talent is undeniable and his melodies still haunt today’s generations from Cameroon and the rest of Africa to far beyond, in Western countries as well as Latin America. He persisted pass discouragement, against all odds, until he eventually met to success. Self-taught, he was an artist first, excelling in music and sculpture.
His personality transpired in his songs, with fun and laughter in some songs, cries and pain in others exploring the wide range of social issues. His website reports that he remained the same humble man with the same prayer to God “Winning the law suit against the stomach and make a report to the sceptic tank” :).
Eboa Lotin in ten songs:
1. Matumba matumba (Munyèngè mwa ngando) – One of his main major trans-African hits and won a pan-African and international success. 2. Ngòn’a mulato – This is a Lotin classic ballad by excellence and one of his signature song. Like in Martine, another such song, Eboa Lotin had a tendency to speak of his misadventures with woman, specially, according to him, because he did not have money. 3. Elimb’a Dikalo (3’38; a song to Radio Cameroon (the main Cameroonian radio and the only one for a long time) about using its voice and its popularity to attend to and speak of the real news) 4. Myobe Masu This song goes beyond its biblical inspiration to encourage taking our destiny into our own hands and responsibilities for our own life 5. Besombè (The Youth) another winner of a pan-African and international success for Eboa Lotin 6. Ya won (Come back here) 7. Mbemb’a Mot’a Sawa this famous song (1967) earned Eboa Lotin the 1st prize of the Vick’s Series contest (with Duke Ellington, president of the jury and Miriam Makeba as board member, among others) and the discovery of Paris. He used this trip to press his greatest success (published by Philips). 8. Ja’Ale – Originally a duet with Cella Stella, a popular Benin singer (once married to another Cameroonian artist, Ekambi Brilliant), this song was re-recorded with fellow Cameroonian singer Grace Decca 9. Mulema Mam (My Heart) – The first song Eboa Lotin ever wrote (in 1962 at 20) was recorded in Radio Douala studios. The song tells the story of a young inexperienced couple in which the husband had to grant full and unconditional freedom to his wife (divorce) because his wallet was not large enough to satisfy her disproportionate ambitions. 10. Lettre à Francis Bebey – Instrumental hommage to his musical predecessor, the reverred musicologist, music artist Francis Bebey at the origin of modern fusion of Western classics, Jazz and African Ethno-folk.