CAMEROON ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY: CURRENT SITUATION, FUTURE DIRECTIONS
The entertainment industry in Cameroon still leaves much to be desired, even though a Cameroonian musical icon has topped the world-class charts for decades. We’re talking about the late saxophonist, Manu Dibango. The problem with Cameroon seems to be the lack of an institutional framework or enabling environment for the industry to blossom.
Talents have never come in short supply in the industry; they are all over and bubbling with raw energy. Cameroon has thousands of artists, ranging from musicians to actors, curators, and festival organizers. Favored by the rich cultural diversity, Cameroon artists could compete favorably with those from other parts of the world. Proof positive is the fact that those who manage to perch their tent in Europe or any other Western nation flourish beyond the wildest imagination.
Beyond the lack of adequate care from the government, another key factor mitigating the flourishing of the entertainment industry in Cameroon is the weak patronage from the private sector. Very few companies and individuals in Cameroon have an articulate policy toward promoting local talents.
Another thorny issue bogging down the industry is the lack of media exposure. Very few hours are dedicated to cultural promotion on radio and television. Entertainment-only channels are almost non-existent in Cameroon, as against what’s obtained in other climes.
The worst is the film industry, which requires heavy financing. Even when the films are produced and are of standard quality, there are no available cinemas, theater halls or distribution channels. Festivals, which are good avenues to showcase our craft, only crop up sparingly.
No thanks to the economic crunch, the festival and film-going audience have dwindled significantly over the years. Added to the arrival of social media and other forms of entertainment, the industry in Cameroon faces dire challenges.
Only last year, the government of Cameroon tried addressing the issue through new legislation that sought to professionalize the music and arts festival industry. Even before the legislation could leave parliament for promulgation into law, criticisms of its shortcomings never lacked for a tongue. Many alleged that the new arts and entertainment legislation sponsored by the Ministries of Territorial Administration and that of Culture, was a tacit attempt by the government to frustrate unfriendly musicians and artists who stage shows abroad. The legislation was clear to the fact that Cameroonian artists could not stage shows abroad without prior authorization from the government.
Despite the seemingly gloomy picture, the future is decidedly bright for the industry and the young talents therein. With the emergence of social media and the opportunity to reach out to audiences in various parts of the world, the industry only needs to innovate.
Creative talent is needed now more than ever. Because with ICT knowledge and access to the internet, artists could glean lots of much-needed dollars from across the world without having to go through the painful challenges of being denied a visa. Moreso, with YouTube and Facebook channels gradually replacing entertainment and cinema halls, and with distance no longer a barrier, the future of the entertainment industry in Cameroon can only be bright.
Nigerian Comedian Inspired me- Senior Pastor
In a chat with the Naija Diaspora Magazine, aced Cameroonian comedian, Senior Pastor revealed that he has been Inspired more by Nigerian Comedians in his career.
The respected stage laughing pill who has made a name for himself over the years by mixing religion and laughter, in the recent interview, paid tributes to Nigerian Comedians like » Aboki for Christ, Gordons for their positive impact on his ability to mount the stage and thrill the audience with comic reliefs.
» Back then I had listened alot to Aboki for Christ, Gordons all those CDs and I wanted to be like them, the genre in Cameroon was not the same, our home-based comedians had adopted the female characters as stage identity, wearing kabba, makeup, and I didn’t like that. When I watched the Nigerian Comedians they dress well, mount the stage and crack the jokes.that inspired me as a gospel comedian , says Senior Pastor.
Senior Pastor discovered his talent as a church boy back then in Limbe, Opeque city in the South West region of Cameroon. He was discovered by famous Cameroonian comedian, » Big Mami Agatha » who gave him a chance to participate in a radio show he hosted.
From there, Senior Pastor has travailed to get to the top of his career. However, he says, despite numerous challenges, several encounters with celebrated Nigerian Comedians, auditions such as That of « Ali Baba 490 audition in 2017». Senior Pastor had made to the final stage of the competition in January 2018.
The said competition, he says was the breakthrough point of his career.
» The help Nigerians, such as boss Ali Baba, Clint the drug, Abororo, have helped me alot, they don’t pretend, though it may be hard to get to them but, they have been of good help to me » he says.
The aced comedian, hopes to take his jokes to other parts of Africa, Europe and the USA.
» Being a bilingual comedian who can speak both French and English is a plus, i want to project Cameroon, shine the light for poeple to also see that Cameroon got talent in standup comedy. These people are my role models, Boss Ali Baba, Gordons, Big Mami Agatha, Aboki for Christ, if I have to become anything , it will be to be like them » he added
Senior Pastor hopes to use his experience and good practices learnt from the Nigerian counterpart to make more strides in comedy. Senior Pastor has invited his fellow Cameroonians to make use to the positive relationship with Nigerians to break new grounds, market themselves and shred pride and keep working.
Senior Pastor is known till date to have hosted one of the greatest standup comedy shows in Cameroon. These shows had been attended by great Nigerian Comedians such as AY
Kizz Daniel, Cameroonian Artists Thrills Fans at UCB Concert
Fans of Nigerian Afrobeats singer, Kizz Daniel in Cameroon, are yet to recover from spillover effects of the artist’s thrilling performance, at the concert organised by Cameroon’s giant brewery industry, Union Camerounaise de Brasseries (UCB).
Union Camerounaise de Brasseries (UCB) is one of the oldest and reliable company in Cameroon. Created in 1972 by its founder Fu’a Toula Kadji Defosso, UCB has been able to preserve its know-how and originality by preferring quality to quantity. A national socially responsible organization which, since its creation, has always known how to put ahead its patriotic side.
For its fiftieth anniversary, the 100% Cameroonian brewing company started its celebrations at the beginning of the year with the African Cup of Nations football (CAN 2021), as official sponsor for soft and hygienic drinks.
It went ahead with the « Raise your glass campaign », and award of medals to more than 150 meritorious workers for their loyalty and services, celebration of its partners and brand ambassadors during the Qatar 2022 world cup, then the grand concert, organized to draw the curtain to a year full of activities the company’s hierarchy had put together in celebration of UBC’s 50th anniversary.
Thursday, 22nd December, saw the Bepanda Reunification Stadium flooded with over 15,000 fans of renowned Cameroonian artists such as Petit Pays, Salatiel, Lady Ponce, Mimie, Mr. Leo, Rinyu, Moustik le Karismatik and Kizz Daniel from Nigeria.
Upon his arrival at the Douala International airport, the Buga king had said, he was happy to be in Cameroon for the first time. He however promised the public a good show and went all out to match his performance with their expectations.
“This is the best show I have had in the last 6 months” – Kizz Daniel said during his performance at the Concert by UCB. Also, VADO said he would love to come back to Cameroon again and thrilled fans with hit singles like Cough, Buga, No Wahala, No Do, just to name a few. The atmosphere was boitorous as fans sang along at top voices to Kizz Daniel’s hit song « Buga » and « Cough ».
The line-up of all these A category artists pulled a large crowd at the Bepanda Omnisports stadium. All attendees have shown their satisfaction to the organisation of the show and have thanked UCB for the initiative.
The Director General of UCB, Austin Ufomba, had earlier noted that, the concert by UCB will be « a great moment of symbiosis between the old and the new musical generation », and also a memorable moment of fun and party UCB wants to share with its consumers, partners, clients and staff.
DG Ufomba, paid tribute to the founder of the group, the visionary Joseph Kadji Defosso and wished to the audience in the stadium a lovely end of year celebration with family and loved ones.
For Cameroonian sensational artist, Mimie, it was an honor to have been selected by the UCB team to perform at the concert. “For me, it’s a great honor to do this live show, « Mimie said.
Salatiel, who is equally a brand ambassador of the company, enjoined the youths to emulate the good example of Kadji Defosso’s children. Salatiel equally took time to pay tributes to musical icon « Petit Pays » who for the past 50 years, has through his music valorised , impacted the Cameroonian musical scene at home and abroad. Petit Pays has raised a great generation of artists of his kind. To Salatiel, it was important to celebrate his legacy while he is still alive.
The artists did not only celebrate UCB through their performances but took time to send out words of gratitude to the founder, appreciating his legacy which his children have not failed to preserve.
The public was amazed at how Kizz Daniel respectfully bowed while he greeted Petit Pays shortly before his departure from Cameroon.
UCB remains proud of his nationality, values and consumers that have been and continue to be a great support for the development of the company. UCB’s marketed products include the Kadji Beer, K44, « Spécial » drinks and Madiba water brands. The great musical concert on December 22 marks the apotheosis of the celebration of half a century of challenges and achievements.
Cheers to more …
Nigerians are our brothers- Wax Dey
A famous Cameroonian musician, songwriter, entrepreneur and social activist, Ndifonka popularly known as Wax Dey, has cautioned Cameroonian artists and their Nigerian counterparts from fighting over amount of content from Nigeria being aired in Cameroon and vice versa, even though he is a staunch supporter of the promotion of local content (80/20).
Wax Dey, who always says Nigeria is a brother nation to Cameroon, made the statement while fielding questions by the Nigerian Diaspora Magazine on his opinion about the 80/20 campaign some Cameroonian entertainers have been heralding as best means to improve the industry.
“I started pushing for 80-20 back in 2016 after spending Easter with President Olusegun of Nigeria: he explained to us how a policy prioritizing local content helped to spur the music industry. That has been a key point of interaction in my meetings with Cameroonian leaders and lawmakers since. Other local platforms like Bimstr support this campaign actively on social media.”
He adds however that this does not need to be a cause for divisive outbursts or hatred.
According to the proposed regime, 80%of content played at clubs, receptions, Television station and radio and likes should be Cameroonian while 20 is foreign (including Nigeria).
Cameroon entertainers felt more value is given to Nigerians in their country while the same is not reciprocated by Nigerians in the clubs spaces. As a means to promote the Cameroon culture and revampe its values, the 80/20 campaign was adopted by humorist and socialist « Old Pancho ».
Measuring from that time of inception, Cameroonian musicians sort of won the 80/20 debate ; making a case why there is a need for the government to institute a quota of local music that must be played by local media houses and entertainment businesses.
The main argument put forward was that of other countries that had instituted similar laws to positive outcomes. This has been a heated debate on social media platforms.
Wax Dey, being the National Coordinator of the Cameroon Music Art pole, has worked over the years to not just put Cameroon but African music on the world map.
He was recently named the Central African Director for All Africa Music Awards ( AFRIMA). Wax Dey’s opinion to the fued which is seemingly fueling a sepration margin between Cameroon and Nigerian entertertainners, is that « Cameroon needs to collaborate more with Nigeria to grow ».
“What we are seeing is that people are increasingly calling for Nigerians to be boycotted” affirms Wax Dey. “This is a wrong interpretation of 80-20. By prioritizing local content, our artists will have more airtime, more shows, more income and will be able to both compete and collaborate better with Nigerians. At the end of the day, we have a lot to learn from Nigeria as an industry, and that will only happen through more collaboration. Cameroonian artists also perform a lot in smaller industries, so unity is a must.”
He sees « a possibility to market the uniqueness of Cameroonian arts on the global scene through fruitful collaboration with Nigeria », noting that many countries have done that and it has worked out well for them.
However, though Cameroon ‘s Afro Pop music is not where it used to be, Nde believes and it’s putting the work to make his country a name on the global stage. But for that to happen, he believes 80-20, applied the right way, is a must.
Wax Dey is known in Cameroon to have fought a lot of silent battles for the industry.His role in the Ministry of Art and culture has much to do with this; he has been instrumental in making some great Central African and Cameroonian artists infiltrate AFRIMA , MTV Awards etc.
Wax Dey has learnt from the greatest culture promoters, and he says he owes his country the due to to ensure the growth of the Industry.
Going by Nde, the ancient Makossa , Bikutsi, Asiko, Njang genre, have remained the country’s cultural heritage; he enjoined millennials and up coming artists to revive it by creating a fusion of afro pop with these genres to create a unique blend because in any case, « we are proud of who we are ».
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