Roger Essama Bekono was born June 15, 1954 in Atéga, Cameroon. In 1968, Bekono left his native village to settle in Yaoundé, the capital city, with the ultimate goal of completing his secondary studies. Sometime in the mid-1970s Bekono made an abrupt stop to his studies because he dreamed of going into music full time. He initially composed songs with foreign colors like “Bòngo Ya Cameron,” which has a French flavor and of Rumba but sung in his own Ewondo language.
In the 1980s the big names in bikutsi emerged. The style began to have international visibility. At the end of 1984, Bekono released his first project Oget Mongi on LP and as soon as it was released, the lead single “Ngon Nnam” hit the capital’s radio stations. He quickly became one of the rising stars of bikutsi and was invited to radio shows all over Cameroon and perform in the popular clubs and cabarets around Yaoundé.
In 1987, Bekono released Assiko 100,000 Watts on LP and cassette. Very quickly the album became a hit with “Biza” and “Assiko 100,000 Watts” receiving radio play. He sold plenty of records and cassettes and toured the nation.
In the middle of 1989, Jolie Poupée was released by the label Inter Diffusion System and aggressively hit the radio, discos and national television. The music video for the title track was on loop on TV. It felt like everyone was talking about it, even artists in adjacent music scenes like makossa. The album came out on vinyl and cassette and remains Bekono’s best-selling recording to this day. With Jolie Poupée, Bekono finally made an impact outside Cameroon as the record captured listeners in some Central African countries like Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Republic of Congo and Sao Tome & Principe.