NBA Star Luc Mbah a Moute's Cameroonian Homecoming

NBA star Luc Mbah a Moute discusses his recent trip home to Cameroon and his involvement in the Tackle Ebola campaign.

All photos courtesy of Luc Mbah a Moute Basketball Camp

Philadelphia 76ers power forward Luc Mbah a Moute spent some time in Cameroon last month, where the Yaounde-born NBA star was conducting pre-selection at the basketball camp he founded in his hometown. We spoke with Mbah a Moute over email about his work cultivating a fresh crop of Cameroonian basketball players and his involvement in the Tackle Ebola coalition, for which he recently appeared in the #ZeroCases PSA for alongside Congolese Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka.

Okayafrica: What's Cameroon's basketball scene like?

Luc Mbah a Moute: It's not as great as it used to be when I was growing up. Back then there were more places to play and the competition was very high. Unfortunately, the kids now have fewer playgrounds and infrastructure, and way more distractions. So something needs to be done to build more courts so that kids will have access to them, spend more time practicing, and thus raise the level of play.

Okayafrica: Why was starting a basketball camp in Cameroon important to you?

Luc Mbah a Moute: After I was drafted to the NBA, it was important for me to do something for basketball in Cameroon. The simplest and most impactful way I thought of back then was to start a real basketball camp — nothing like that had ever been done in Cameroon before. I wanted to identify and help the talented young players of Cameroon get an opportunity to use basketball to impact their lives like it did for mine.

Okayafrica: Have any professional or collegiate athletes come out of the camp?

Luc Mbah a Moute: So far we've had 6 college players and 1 NBA player come out of the camp.

Okayafrica: Why did you want to get involved in the fight to stop Ebola?

Luc Mbah a Moute: I got involved to stop Ebola because the horrible disease has devastated the lives of too many Africans. As an athletic ambassador to Africa, I want to do everything I can to keep other Africans safe and healthy. The world needs to remember that the fight against Ebola is still going on. We're yet to have reached zero cases of Ebola in Sierra Leone and Guinea. Ebola anywhere is Ebola everywhere. We all must remain vigilant, and everyone has a part to play. I’m just doing what I can.

Okayafrica: What is Tackle Ebola currently doing to stop the outbreak?

Luc Mbah a Moute: I partnered with Africa United to make sure that Africans know what to do to get to zero cases of Ebola and build a healthier Africa. In the United States, Tackle Ebola is mobilizing public, corporate, humanitarian and political support for getting to zero cases of Ebola in West Africa. I joined Tackle Ebola because I see that Americans also need to pay attention to what’s going on in the affected countries.


6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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