Listen to the banned

Music has the ability to entertain you, inspire you, move you, touch you, pump you up and calm you down. It also has the ability to acheive goals beyond these; a cultural tool for social transformation. It is when rap is no longer a deviant genre but cry from the underbelly of impoverished youth, it is when voice of KS George and co in KPAC ganangal are not mere accompaniment to socio-political dramas but added force to the message it delivers, it is when Mississippi goddamn stop being a show tune and becomes the invisble force that gave the activist extra push to make that one step beyond the police line in Selma to Montgomery marches. That is also why, according to artist Deeyah is considered very dangerous by a lot people around the world which is why they try to find ways of silencing or limiting it.Music is a powerful form of expression and it is an emotional channel that transcends economic, social, ethnic, sexual and other barriers. Music has always been the stuff of rebellion, but under some of the world's harshest regimes singers are increasingly becoming the victims of censorship and threat as much as opposition politicians, journalists and writers. But their plight is often far less acknowledged.

When Lapiro de Mbanga wrote his most famous song it was in despair at the way he saw his country being ruined by a president making constitutional changes to stay in power indefinitely. When his fellow Cameroonians took to the streets of the major cities for four days of violent unrest in 2008, it was De Mbanga's song they adopted as their unofficial anthem. The lyrics of Constitution Constipée, criticising President Paul Biya as "caught in the trap of networks that oblige him to stay in power even though he is tired", earned its songwriter a prison sentence. De Mbanga was charged with inciting youth unrest and is still in prison in Cameroon.

Laprio de Mbanga and several other banned musicians from around the world fills in "Listen to the Banned" - a CD compilation of songs compiled by artist Deeyah and Freemuse. The compilation is available at :