As the artistic and cultural season got into full gear on Thursday 14th September, the public was treated to the finest Cameroonian rhythms like Meuhep, Kalangou, Ambasse Bay, Adjoyayi, Njang Bikutsi and other contemporary sounds.
The Artists from the four cultural zones mobilised to serve variety; classical and modern dances, contemporary and urban dances all highlighting the hidden values of music.
RECAN, Valorising Dance Heritage
Besides being an artistic display, the experts at RECAN say heritage dances are performed to portray ancestral values which are wrought in mystical, spiritual and cultural vestiges.
Innitially, these Cameroon heritage dances in most occasions, were staged during funeral rites, initiations, enthronement ceremonies, marriages, births, or during special evocations.
Presently, such displays are staged to project the country’s image internationally.
Ayissi Le Duc, 57 years who is Zomelo’o, meaning Patriarch of the Ekang, (the forest people of Central Africa) says dance is an intergral part of the people’s way of life.
He has been into heritage dance performance for 40 years and counting. He says his group Otitié, (meaning star), has won several medals internationally.
Ayissi Le Duc affirms that government needs to be applauded for her keen interest in the sector.
“The performance is first of all, to portray ancestral values of Cameroon. Fame and money come only later” he explained.
The National Artistic and Cultural Relaunch will culminate to the creation of federations to group various dance groups Cameroon.
Besides the well known national Ballet and others that performs heritage dances, there are also the federation of urban dances of Cameroon FENASUR, (grouping 500 dance associations) and classical and modern dance groups.
The 2017 Francophonie Hip Hop dance Gold Medallist, RASAAD BECHIR, one of the leaders of the FENASUR says they take part in Festivals, international performances, competitions, concerts and training sessions. It is through these activities that they are able to generate income for the professional dansers.
Heritage Dance and Ethnicity
Heritage dances are as many as the over 240 tribes found within three ethnic groups in Cameroon.
But experts have regrouped these under the four cultural Zones.
#The Sudano- Sahelian zone (North, Far North and Adamawa regions);- Gourna and Kalangou dances
#The Fang Beti cultural zone (Centre, South and East regions) bikutsi, bafia dance and adjoyayi
#The Sawa (Littoral and South West regions) asiko, ambasse bay, the oroko dance and makoune.
#The Grassfield ( West and North west regions) The njang, masquerade dance, sameli, benskin manjong and meuhep dances.
André Takou Sa’a choreographer says traditional dancing, formerly limited to cultural identity is presently an income generating art
“Formerly, dancers were seen as animators who just entertain with no full motivation.. But we have to start seeing them as professionals who should be paid for their art” he intimated.
The sector hence is undergoing restructuring. Dance schools have been created to train both professional and amateur dancers.
Eight schools have been identified in Yaounde with some prominent trainers dedicated to the task.
Festivals are being organised to put dancers on the spotlight. Some of these are Abokigoma, Mavungou, Modapef (movement dance performance) Corps e geste among others