Awunganyi Etiendem Nkemasong aka “Awu” was born in the cultural and biodiversity-rich hills and valleys of the North West Region of Cameroon. As a child, Awu took interest in a variety of performing arts, such as drama and dancing, but his greatest passion has always been music.
As a teenager in secondary school, Awu decided to sell some of his belongings so he could buy his very first instrument, a two-stringed guitar. Awu walked a distance of 9 kilometers, over the course of 12 hours, in order to locate the owner of this two-stringed guitar. Feeling deeply joyful about his purchase, Awu happily walked back home. Unfortunately, he arrived home as a total disappointment to his family, as music was not something a responsible young boy from Cameroon was supposed to pursue. His dad, especially frustrated, confiscated the guitar for days. Unable to let go of his dream of becoming a musician, Awu went on a hunger strike, going a full day without food, in order to convince his dad to give him back his pride and joy – his guitar.
He became his own teacher and taught himself how to play the guitar and sing. He composed many songs with his two-stringed guitar and became the star of the neighborhood since he graced every birthday and celebration in the community with beautiful music.
In 2011 when Awu was in secondary school, he recorded and released his first single “Take My Hand.” Shortly after recording “Take My Hand,” Awu performed the song at the Brasseries du Cameroon Mutzig Music Competition. Later in 2011, Awu performed Nigerian artist Asa’s hit single “Jailer” in the Coca Cola Music Competition, finishing in 2nd place. In March 2012, Awu performed as a finalist in the Carton Rouge Inter-Schools music competition, singing Asa’s “Fire on the Mountain.”
In the summer of 2012, Awu met Colby during their service with the Cameroonian NGO “The Greens,” which focuses on empowering young changemakers to build a sustainable, peaceful environment. Colby and Awu both shared a passion for using music positively to inspire and uplift humanity. As a result, they decided to collaborate – and the rest is history!
Throughout his life, Awu has been influenced by many different musicians, but two that stick out in particular are the late South African Reggae star Lucky Dube, and the legendary Bob Marley. Quite simply, Awu states that he “strives to use his musical talents to help make the world a better place.”
Got any thoughts or questions you’d like to share with Awu? Leave a comment below!