An excellent drummer and lyricist, singer Ze Bella died on January 15 following illness. He was 70 years old.
The news fell like a cleaver. Jean Paul Ze Bella is no more. The singer was struck down by an illness that had been eating away at him for some time. His body was placed in the Cefta morgue pending the date of his funeral. Within his nuclear and artistic family, there is great consternation. Ze Bella was a great figure in music who enjoyed great success in the 80s and 90s. “We lose, with his disappearance, an authentic musician, in this case someone who writes and plays music. And who is at ease with interpretations that are free from all written conventions,” explains Joseph Owona Ntsama, music critic and columnist.
The shock is harsh for his stage companions. In particular the former members of the "Golden Sounds" he founded in the 80s: Guy Dooh, Emile Kojidie or Annie Anzouer with whom he often formed a memorable duo. “I don't have a lot of strength tonight [le 15 Janvier NDLR], because I have been watching the film of my early career since I heard the news of his death. Joh as he was called, go in peace. I am morally exhausted. All I can say is that he was a great artist. He was an excellent drummer. I see us again in Strasbourg. I see us again on the tours. Here is ! God has decided so. Go in peace”, reacted Annie Anzouer who sings alongside Ze Bella in the unforgettable “A baby”, “Difficult to treat disease”. “It is with a heavy heart that we learned the news of the disappearance of our music icon Ze Bella especially coming after all the other deaths that we recorded Ekambi Brillant, Penda Dalle, Apache Ango… I met Ze Bella a month ago, he looked fine, you can imagine the sadness. It's a very dark series that continues. And at some point, you wonder who will be next. The Sonacam is truly proven, flabbergasted even by the death of our great icon Ze Bella. Since the whole field is affected, artists wonder what is going on? We will work with the family and the state to ensure he has a dignified funeral. We are really overwhelmed. It's one death too many and we pray that the actions taken to ensure good social security for artists and health insurance will be conclusive. We have started negotiations with the CNPS”, reacted Ateh Bazore, the PCA of Sonacam,
Singer with a sweet voice, Ze Bella knew how to awaken the sensitivity of the public with his bewitching melodies full of lyricism. He began music as a drummer in the 70s at the Republican Guard. He will be recruited some time later in the orchestra on the initiative of Colonel Kalkaba Malboum at the time, a young second lieutenant. With some of his classmates, he founded in the early 80s, the group "The Golden Sounds" with which he will write beautiful pages of Cameroonian music. “Ze Bella was the natural leader of the group. Leader artistically, gets along well, because he was a good singer-songwriter. Although a resident drummer, he was also an excellent singer and a formidable dancer, without neglecting his great talents as a lyricist. So many assets which naturally imposed him at the head of this very popular group between the 80s and 90s”, notes Lazare Etoundi, senior journalist at CRTV.
Going in the same direction, the writer Arol Ketchiemen author of the book "The icons of Cameroonian music", underlines that. “Zé Bella had the particularity of transmitting a lot of emotions by singing. This gave a certain nostalgic depth to the songs. To be convinced of this, just listen to the titles “Disease difficult to treat”, “A baby”. Zé Bella literally let himself be inhabited by the songs”, specifies the man of culture. He underlines the artistic complicity between Ze Bella and Annie Anzouer which also greatly contributed to the success of the "Golden Sounds".
“His complicity with Annie Anzouer is also linked to the fact that the songs on which they performed required embodying moments of emotion. Better moments of fusion”, specifies Arol Ketchiemen. With titles like “Piton Helmet”, “This grounds”, “I seek Makrita” and “Zangalewa” their greatest success.
Ze Bella sang for peace, love and brotherhood. Women's causes were also close to his heart. "Artistically, popular song was the genre favored by the Golden Sounds, with rhythmic rhythms, very danceable, well animated with spectacular stagings in colorful costumes. explains Lazare Etoundi. Excellent capsules, the clips of Golden Sounds complemented the messages of the songs. “The texts were simple, without being simplistic and the messages conveyed directly touched the masses, because they dealt with daily concerns with ordinary terms and expressions. It is a group which shone in the animation of almost all the public ceremonies where the solemnity was in order. At the same time as the sound system of the official event was well assured, the animation of the interludes was remarkably good. On National Television, first CTV at the time, then CRTV, their videograms looped with the same pleasure during the great variety show that was TELEPODIUM”.
In 2010, "Zangalewa" was taken over by Colombian singer Shakira, who made it the anthem of the World Cup in South Africa. Riding this wave, Ze Bella will try to come back to the fore with another beautiful melody in homage to women. But the enthusiasm was no longer the same for the artist. “In reality, the Golden Sounds had set the bar high and it was very difficult for him to have a Solo career on the scale of what he had known in the past. To lead a good Solo career at that time, he would have had to reinvent himself, ”explains the writer. Today Ze Bella's songs are classics. They continue to inspire artists around the world. Much loved by the public, the native of Sangmélima HAS received the title of "Zomlo'o" by the Mvele community in Méfou-et-Afamba.