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Richard Bona

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Richard BONA 

He is a gem. That´s what journalists write about him. He used to be a difficult child though, crying a lot for no reason, from the moment he was born in 1967 in the little village of Minta, East Cameroon, until he was three years old. Maybe he was crying because he didn´t know yet how much he was gifted and hadn´t discovered what would allow his sensibility to express itself. Because from the day he saw somebody playing balafon, he stopped crying. He was just fascinated. He could sit there, staring at the musician and listen to the music for hours.

Richard Bona´s talent could come out. He grew up in a home filled with music: his grandfather and mother were singers. According to his mother, this little fellow had something special to to do with music. Soon he would build his own balafon and started to practice it eight to twelve hours a day.
At 5 years old, he began to perform in public, singing in the village church with his mother and sisters. He started to use his unbelievable, amazing and natural ability to learn any instrument only by watching it being played.

The main problem was the difficulty to provide himself instruments in his village. So Richard not only got to know how to practice them, he also learned how to make his own! From wooden flutes to percussion instruments, he easily built everything he needed. Well, not that easily though. When it came to build a guitar he had some trouble to find guitar strings. Then the bicycle shop saved him. What can have a bicycle shop and a fabulous young talent who lives in a small Cameroonian village in common ? That actually led to the wonderful bass player who performs with illustrious musicians today… Because Richard was not only gifted, but also clever. He had no guitar strings, so he stole a couple of bicycle brake cables to make some! It´s a funny and cute story, if we compare to what Richard has become.

So, was it thanks to the guitar with very special strings or not, Richard was highly in demand to sing and play at baptisms, weddings, and church fonctions! The word of this prodigious young musician had spread throughout the village. He then moved to Douala and lived with his father. He began working as a musician, thinking that ´the guitar was the hip instrument that you had to play´. He began playing gigs at 11 years old, replacing his homemade model by a professional-style guitar. He got a job playing guitar in bars at night time, making people dance.

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