I first came across Francis Bebey's music in a record shop in Ghent, Belgium in 2011, when I laid my eyes and ears on the compilation African Electronic Music 1975 - 1982 (Born Bad Records). I still remember reading the liner notes by Francis' daughter Kidi, mentioning the "whiff of avant-garde" of her father's electronic/makossa/jazz music. Obviously the whole thing just reeked of me, and I had to get it.
Super quick bio: Francis Bebey was born in Cameroon in 1929, studied at the Sorbonne and US, then went to Ghana as a broadcaster at the invitation of Kwame Nkrumah in 1957 (famous pan-africanist and first president of an African post-colonial country), before he went back to France again in the 60s.
Bebey had all kinds of creative projects going all his life (mostly spent in Paris), and as well as making his unique electronic music he was also a writer and sculptor. Bebey lived in the spirit of Changing the Menu long before we were born. He even wrote an African Music guide in the 70s, that we snapped up at the book shop of the magical African museum/club/café/dreamspace Comptoir Général in Paris a couple of years back.
That place is btw the perfect location for listening to Francis Bebey's music in my mind, and how I envision the Changing the Menu space if we would ever be able to set up something like that (!)
Anyway. Back to Bebey and his music. Here are some of my favourite songs of his:
There was even a pretty decent Bebey remix album released in 2013, that included this track with Pilooski.
Bebey passed away in 2001, but his ideas and spirit lives on in his writing, art, music and the Centre Culturel Francis Bebey in Yaoundé in Cameroon.
Thank you, Francis, for going your own way.
Truly no one else like you.