If you’re a Cameroonian artiste and you feel bad after reading this, then I probably wrote it for you. And this is just the beginning.
I will try NOT to make direct references to any artistes living or dead.
I will, however, make indirect references.
There’s a problem.
One that I think, consciously or not, we are failing to accept the damaging effects this problem has on who we are, now, and who we are going to be.
The blue lion in the room
By “we”, I mean as a society. “We the Cameroonian People”.
“If you want to understand a Nation’s soul, read its fiction”. How many times have we (mostly without data to back the argument) blatantly affirmed : ‘Cameroonians do not read’?
I have. Many times.
And I am not proud of it.
But I am not here to talk about the reading culture either. I am here to argue the case of a derelict legacy- the culture in our media- specifically music-content.
We are proud of our 230+ ethnic groups. Proud of our diverse languages and landscapes. Of our multiplicity and even the forced colonial heritage and the bondage of our two borrowed tongues.
Are we? Should we?
I don’t watch TV very much. And I don’t like Cameroonian entertainment. (This is very subjective on my auditory taste) Not that I am a music buff, but I have had my share of music #MadeInCameroon.
There is a rise in the number of artistes. I don’t want to point at the availability of cheaper equipment, YouTube tutorials on “how to direct a music video” or YouTube itself.
Something, or someone happened and now, if after this article, you decide to criticize me by saying :” Gerrarehere Kamga, it’s because you can’t sing“, then you will probably find my myopic self on Boom TV singing this text.
If Trump can still be on for the elections at this time, why can’t yours truly be a singer songwriter?
I am not discounting the fact that there are some really gifted and talented singers, songwriters, musicians and creative peeps who are essentially fulfilling their purpose on earth with lyrical genius and sublime voices.
If you’re an artiste, reading that last paragraph, and you think I mean you, I’m not.
Now that I have given room for enough doubt as to what I think of who, let me attempt to express the seeping immorality, blank creativity, waste of material, time and brain energy to produce 3 to 4 minutes of shitty ear torture. That, and why I think our culture is suffering for it.
I once eavesdropped- “Richard Bona doesn’t sell in Cameroon because his music is not for Cameroonians”.
Interesting, the speaker’s premise was. From that single statement, I could extrapolate this: the music that sells in Cameroon is for Cameroonians. That music that encourages activities that may or may not be entirely acceptable in a morally upright society IS what Cameroonians want.
Then again, it was just a single statement. I can’t draw conclusions from what one person said.
BUT! How many people think that way about Manu Dibango? Or Henry Dikongue? Or Blick Bassy?
And I guess it could be the same argument used by proponents of Nigerian music and the rise of the Jazzy bug, the Yemi Alade fever and, last but most prominent- the #Godwin malaria.
Culture and Family
When I was born, my father nicknamed me after a popular Brazilian footballer. If we grew-up together, you know that name. If you write that name in the comments, I will unfriend you and block you. This, is a promise.
Now, the reason why my father gave me that name was because he was(and still is) a huge football fan. In fact, he was so impressed by those 1990 world cup actors that he almost gave my brother a nickname too later on.
My wise mother did not let that happen.
Where is my stupid childhood nickname story heading to?
You have seen it around you. The influence of media content on our characters and our cultures. The influence of the media on the way we dress, the way we walk, our life choices.
In fact, I believe a media study can point the rise in entrepreneurship and business creation (essentially, the spread of capitalism) the the gross mediatisation of Western success ( dropout) stories.
Mark; Jobs; Gates; Musk; Thiel; Graham, no offence.
What happened to my meal?
Have you noticed the rise in the “takeaway” trend? Almost every restaurant worthy to be called that way, has provision for you to carry your meal away.
(Did someone whisper MacDonalds?)
Blame the “lack of time” and increased “work demand” all you want. Someone’s copying trends.
And dear restaurant owners, you better join the wagon.
For lack of a better reference…
Ok. Away from football, nicknames and food.
I will not talk about the song that suggests you get physically inappropriate with your sister or cousin BECAUSE it’s a party.
Neither will I talk about the song that asks you not to care because the person telling you to act properly is not your father.
Did someone say Cameroonian values include: Family? Respect?
May be I am not in the right nation.
Now, anyone can get a drone. Seriously. Even I can get a drone.
(If you buy it for me, that is).
I am lucky to have been taught by one of the pioneer video content creation experts in the country. Mr. Kome Mathias. He knows his stuff and I wish I could just download him in hard drive or something.
Th one thing that reverberates with his education and many like him, is the cost.
It costs the skin from your teeth( direct translation) to study in film school. Or any film course for that matter. Ask Francoise Elong if you doubt me.
Film school, which teaches what to do in order to tell your story better, is expensive for the same reason why even with Pa Kome as lecturer, I could not get all the knowledge (or none of the practice) I would have loved the have- video is an expensive medium.
It requires costly equipment. You are capturing life. Motion . Colors. Shades. And using them the twist reality, to entertain, to inform, to educate.To elicit emotion. The make memories.
That privilege should be expensive.
Video Guru for Sale
How many of our verily eminent stage directors/ directors/ creative directors/ video editors went to film school?
Yes. I know there are a few (actually just one that I know)quite talented and self-taught via intensive practice AND HAD ACCESS TO EQUIPMENT.
How many of the people making music videos in Cameroon actually know the theory behind video making?
How is that related to culture?
Stand up. Got to your mirror. Show me something you’re wearing that is made up of leaves, you know…like our forefathers did. Tell me your haircut isn’t influenced by Hollywood. That your accent doesn’t sometimes come out british. Or that you don’t dream of Wizkid or Yemi Alade.
(Twice in one post. That must mean something. Yemi, this must mean something).
Some people are gifted and don’t need school? Not everyone has money?
Would you take your sibling/child/partner to an unqualified doctor? Would you let your child be “healed” by someone who “claims” to be a doctor? How can you be treated by someone how can’t even buy a labcoat?
For our culture to be incorporated seamlessly in our content, the actors behind these creative ventures need to be masters of their craft.
You don’t have to be perfect
But you have to constantly strive for perfection. Push your limits. Test your boundaries.
But you have to tell the stories right.
What’s your story?
You story is not Timbaland’s story. Are you T-Pain? What’s wrong with your voice?
Why don’t you just tell all the vixens to get naked? Or do you find soft porn more appealing?
My father and I listen to Richard Bona. When alone , I listen to Skrillex. Or DJ Snake. Or M.I.
My father and I watch Richard Bona concerts. When alone, I watch The Daily Show.Or Suits. Or The X-Files
I love the moments with my father. The culture of my country is ingrained in those moments. I cherish them
Would you listen to [Insert any Cameroonian song made in the past 3 years or so] with your child and be comfortable about the message?
Would you be proud of what the song is saying about you? About “we the people of Cameroon”?
With our various ethnic groups, rich historic heritage, powerful intellect, is this really the apogee of our visual intellect?