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, / Cultural


i n the


Republic of
J. C. Bahoken and
Engelbert Atangana


The Unesco Press

Paris 1976

Studies and documents on cultural policies

In this series: Cultural policy: a preliminary study Cultural policy in the United States, by Charles C. Mark Cultural rights a human rights Cultural policy in Japan, by Nobuya Shikaumi Some aspects o f French cultural policy, by the Studies and Research Department of

the French Ministry of Culture

Cultural policy in Tunisia,by Ra6k Said Cultural policy in Great Britain, by Michael Green and Michael W i l d i n g ,i n comulta-

tion with Richard Hoggart

A. A. Zvorykin with the . Rabinovitch assistance of N. I. Golubtsova and E.I Cultural policy in Czechoslovakia, by Miroslav Marek, Milan Hromdka and Josef Chroust Cultural policy in Italy, a survey prepared under the auspices of the Italian National Commission for Unesco Cultural policy in Yugoslavia, by Stevan MajstoroviC Cultural policy in Bulgaria, by Kostadine Popov Some aspects o f cultural policies in India, by Kapila Malik Vatsyayan Cultural policy in Cuba, by Lisandro Otero with the assistance of Francisco Martnez Hinojosa Cultural policy in Egypt, by Magdi Wahba Cultural policy in Filpland, a study prepared under the auspices of the Finnish National Commission for Unesco Cultural policy in Sri Lanka, by H.H.Bandara Cultural policy in Nigeria, b y T. A. Fasuyi Cultural policy in Iran, by Djamchid Behnam Cultural policy in Poland, by Stanislaw Witold Balicki, Jerzy Kossak and Miroslaw Zulawski The role of culture in leisure time in Nau Zealand, by Bernard W.Smyth Cultural policy in Israel, by Jozeph Michman Cultural policy in Senegal, by Mamadou Seyni MBengue Cultural policy in the Federal Republic o f G e m n y , a study prepared under the auapices of the German Commission for Unesco Cultural policy in Indonesia, a study prepared by the staffof the Directorate-General of Culture, Ministry of Education and Culture of the Republic of Indonesia Cultural policy in the Philippines,a study prepared under the auapices of the Unesco National Commission of the Philippines Cultural policy in Liberia, by Kenneth Y.Best Cultural policy in Hungary, a survey prepared under the auspices of the Hungarian National Commission for Unesco The culturalpolicy o f the United Republic o f Tanzania,by L.A. Mbughuni Cultural policy in Kenya, by Kivuto Ndeti Cultural policy in Romania, by Ion Dodu Balan w i t h the co-operationof the Directorate of the Council of Socialist Culture and Education Cultural policy in the German Democratic Republic, by Hans Koch Cultural policy in Afghanistan, by Shafie Rahe1 Cultural policy in the United Republic of Cameroon, by J. C. Bahoken and Engelbert Atangana
Cultural policy in the Union o f Soviet Socialist Republics,by

n this series, the presentation of which has been The serial numbering of titles i modified, was discontinued with the volume Cultural policy in Italy

Published by The Unesco Press, 7 Place de Fontenoy, 75700 Paris Printed by Oberthur, Rennes

ISBN 92-3-101316-5
L a Politique Culturelle en Rpublique Unie du Cameroun




Printed in France


T h e purpose of this series is to s h o w h o w various M e m b e r States plan and apply their cultural policy. Cultural policies are as diverse as cultures themselves; it behoves each M e m b e r State to determine and apply its own, taking into account its conception of culture, its socio-economic system, its political ideology and its technological development. Nevertheless, methods of cultural policy (like those of general development policy) pose universal problems-chiefly of a n institutional, administrative and financial natureand the need for exchanges of experience a n d data concerning t h e m is increasingly recognized. T h e publications i n the present series-whose n presentation i t has been attempted to m a k e as uniform as possible i order to facilitate comparisons-bear mainly on these technical aspects of cultural policy. As a general rule, the studies deal with the following questions: principles a n d methods of cultural policy, evaluation of cultural requirements, administrative structures a n d management, planning and financing, organization of resources, legislation, budget, public and private institutions, the cultural content of education, cultural autonomy a n d decentralization, training of personnel, institutional infrastructure corresponding to special cultural requirements, preserving the cultural heritage, institutions for cultural dissemination, international cultural co-operation a n d related questions. T h e studies bear on countries representing dissimilar social and economic systems, geographic areas a n d levels of development. T h e y accordingly reflect a wide variety of conceptions and methods of cultural policy. In the aggregate, they m a y provide models useful to countries which have not yet elaborated a cultural policy. T h e y enable any country, and particularly those seeking n e w formulas for their cultural policy, to take advantage of the experience acquired elsewhere. T h e present study was prepared for Unesco by Professor J. C.Bahoken,

Doctor of African Studies, research worker at the Faculty of Arts and H u m a n Sciences, University of Yaound, and at the National Office for Scientific and Technical Research (ONAREST), and by Mr Engelbert Atangana, Secretary-General of the National Commission for Unesco, Professor of Philosophy. T h e opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Unesco.


9 The ethno-cultural framework 19 The institutionalframework of cultural development

25 The cultural policy of Cameroon today 58 Cameroonian artists and writers

78 Public and private cultural activity

The ethno-cultural framework

A n y effective cultural activity is fundamentally if not a political, at least a civic, undertakin.g.E l H a d j A h m a d o u Ahidjo, opening address to the National Council of the C a m e r o o n National Union, N o v e m b e r 1973

The population of


A multitude of factors, s o m e natural and s o m e due to the migrations of h u m a n communities, account for the population of the United Republic of Cameroon.

T h e configuration of the land i n Cameroon gives the country great variety. As regards relief w e find, from the south-west to the north, a chain of mountains varying i n height, mountain groups and volcanic tablelands, the A d a m a w a plateau, and the plains surrounding L a k e C h a d and along the Atlantic coast. T h e diversity of Cameroon also derives from its network of rivers and streams, distributed as follows: L a k e C h a d basin (principal river, the Shari) ; Niger basin (principal river, the Benue) ; the Ogoue-Congo basin (principal rivers, the Sanaga, the Nyong, the W u r i (or Cameroon River) and the Mungo). T h e s a m e variety exists as regards flora: to the north, the Sahara n the centre, the savannah with Desert followed by a zone of steppes; i tall grasses; to the south, the luxuriant forest w i t h m a n y species. T h e i v i n g of the populations is determined by their ecological m o d e of l environment. In Cameroon there are different h u m a n types corresponding to the relief, certain elements of which have contributed to the settling of peoples i n their natural site. T h e y have moulded the spirit of these peoples and endowed t h e m with particular character traits. In the mountainous area, for instance, w e f i n d communities which have chosen to settle on the lower slopes, where their dwellings are

The ethno-cultural framework

perched like eagles nests. These peoples have a n independent spirit and a dour, tenacious nature, owing to their enforced struggles against the i l d beasts and sickness. elements, w

T h e inhabitants of present-day Cameroon spring from the migrations which have taken place i n Africa throughout the centuries. According to historical and anthropological tradition, a proportion of the so-called Bantu peoples c a m e from beyond the hollow which produced L a k e Chad, and the remainder from the forest stretching along the near side of the great Zaire River, better k n o w n as the Congo River. Certain scholars think that different peoples migrated from the distant valley of the Nile, where living conditions were favourable. S o m e of t h e m travelled from east to west across the S u d a n to reach the Sahel region.

Principal centres of population T h e principal centres of population are the following: 1. T h e C h a d centre, encompassing the lake of the s a m e n a m e and its surroundings. W e shall call i t the L a k e C h a d basin. It is the country of the Sao. 2. T h e Bawutshi plateau centre, on the crescent formed by the Niger and Benue Rivers. It is the country of the Noko. 3. T h e A d a m a w a plateau centre, or country of the Niger and Sanaga Rivers. It is inhabited by the Bantu peoples. 4 . T h e Ubangi-Shari plateau centre, also inhabited by the Bantu. 5. T h e woodland centre, country of the forest Bantu. It is customary to divide the population of Cameroon into Sudanese and Bantu. It should be pointed out here that the word Sudanese, i n Arabic, m e a n s simply Negro, or country of the Negroes. As for the word Bantu, i t appears to mean, i n the languages of that ethnic group, the h u m a n phenomenon, i . e . m e n as opposed to animals or plants. Hence the t w o terms cannot be considered as correct, anthropologically speaking, to describe the peoples of the United Republic of Cameroon. A thorough study of these peoples shows that they are the s a m e everywhere, despite minor differences stemming from ecological conditions.

The Chad centre. Here w e find Saharans, the last survivors of a group n that region, which of peoples w h o once lived a life of great plenty i later became a sand desert. T h e y were driven from it by the seventy of the climate and sought refuge i n the areas to the south, m o r e propitious for their activities, on the edge of the developing desert. T h e y

The ethno-cultural framework

cultivate sorghum and millet and go i n for fishing; on the plateau they raise cattle. T h i s region is a point of confluence of a n extraordinary s there that mixture of peoples, and is a big centre of civilization. It i the great Sao and Sari families meet.

The Bawutshi plateau centre. T o the west of L a k e Chad live the H a u s a and, to the east, the Fulani or Peul. T h e Bawutshi plateau, between Nigeria and northern Cameroon, is the centre of Nok0 civilization, with extensions towards the Benue. T h i s area situated between the C h a d basin and the Benue-Niger is a centre of intense demographic pressure which must have been at the origin of a so-called Bantu nucleus, a set of social or ethnic groups having c o m m o n traits, a c o m m o n linguistic background, w h o k n e w h o w to w o r k iron, w o o d and earth, practised hunting a n d fishing, a n d cultivated the soil w h e n they became sedentary. F r o m the C h a d basin, the starting-point of m a n y mutations a n d migrations, the Benue opens a westward passage that has contributed to the spread of N o k 0 civilization towards the east.

The A d a m a w a plateau centre. F r o m the north-east slope of the A d a m a w a plateau flow the Logone a n d the Shari and, from its western slope, the Benue, which waters the high plateau, whilst several streams flow from its southern slope, the most important being the Sanaga, enlarged d o w n stream by the L o m , the Djerem and the M b a m . T h e A d a m a w a , a real water tower whence the large rivers of C a m e roon branch out, serves as a watershed and, consequently, as a divider n a n oblique line from south-west to east, of populations. Running i the enormous plateau divides the United Republic of Cameroon into t w o distinct regions. T o the north lies the country of the L a k e C h a d basin, a grassy inland plain, its undulations bristling here and there with outcroppings of rock. It is streaked with rivers whose rgime follows the seasons-the mayos. T h e Shari and Logone Rivers have opened natural migration routes through this plain, leading from the L a k e C h a d basin towards the Ubangi and Shari plateaux. And so, on the one hand, the Benue-Chad-Shari triangle is a zone enabling m a n to penetrate into Central Africa, and on the other, the plains of the Sanaga and the Sanga prolong the northsouth axes of circulation. T h e A d a m a w a forms a h u m a n region f u l l of people with chocolatecoloured skins, tall and thin, or of m e d i u m height. T h e families k n o w n through genealogical history are the Babute, the Tikar, the K a k a , the B a m u m (Bamun), the Bamileke and the Fulani (or Peul), making up such large social groups that each forms a nation. Living i n the midst of these peoples, w h o constitute political societies with a n organized economy, a political and administrative structure, are the Bororo, per11

The ethno-cultural framework

petually on the m o v e between the lowlands and the mountain pastures, i n the w a k e of their herds of cattle. A l l these social groups or h u m a n communities intermarry, live i n the s a m e tropical climate, trade with each other thanks to the markets, and freely exchange ideas and cultural patterns. T h e Mandara mountains are inhabited by families of true mountain people with fine ebony complexions, of m e d i u m height and well built. T h e Fali are remarkable for their architectural style, their conception of the universe, their religion and their anthropological and cosmological philosophy. Alongside the Fali are the Massa and M a t a k a m families, m a n y of w h o m are very tall, rivalling their cousins, the Sari. T h e y love beauty, and they tattoo their faces, particularly their cheeks, to s h o w that they are brave. Throughout this region of Cameroon, history books mention the Sao (Saho /Sawa) w h o once formed empires which migrated i n the direction of the Bawutshi plateau, enabling t h e m to ally themselves to the N o k 0 families, w h o also formed empires which have n o w vanin the shed, leaving only a few thousand people and a flourishing art i north of Nigeria. T h e C h a d basin has been, and still is, a sort of centre from which several currents of migrations flow, as well as successive waves of varied cultural iduences which, i n merging, have provided firm bases for a c o m m u n a l m o d e of life, a code of ethics, and a developed social organization. T h e mountain range extends towards the west and south-west with the chains of Bambuto, M b o (Mounts M a n e g u b a and Nlonako), Bakosi (Mounts K u p e a n d Fako, c o m m o n l y k n o w n as M o u n t Cameroon). T h e peoples of the region are mountain folk and, as such, have c o m m o n cultural traits, despite variations due to the local ecology. In the foothills of the B a m b u t o chain, where the towns of Dschang, M b u d a and Bafussam are situated, the climate is mild, the population dense, and life is pleasant. T h e Bamileke live i n this area. B e y o n d the N o u n and towards the north-west lies B a m u m country, inhabited by a large homogeneous family whose language, social ethics and political structure have been gradually elaborated under the authoh i s family rity of successive and outstanding chiefs-the M f o n B a m u m . T is related to the Tikar. In this region a civilization developed whose artistic, economic and political aspects still arouse admiration. A t the foot of the M b o (Mounts n the rich valleys Manenguba, Nlonako and Kupe) and F a k o chains, and i sloping d o w n towards the coast, live the M b o , Bakaka, M w a m e n a m , Bakwiri, Mungo, Nidian, M a n y and Bakosi families. Large towns are n this area, which is a zone of cultural symbiosis. developing today i Marriages with families i n the Bamileke group, trade, and the spread of Christianity have created here an agricultural society which chooses forest materials (wood, leaves), a n d particularly ebony and raffia, for


The ethno-cultural framework

i t s works of art. T h e people commonly speak Duala, Bali and even English i n their daily relations, i n addition to their o w n languages.

The Ubangi-Shariplateau centre. This is the region of the so-called Bantu families, which include the Baya, w h o married Bene women, the Kare s among the Baya that w e f i n d or Kali, the Mbum and the Kaka. It i the Wantho literary cycle. The cultural relations are intense between the peoples of this plateau and the Mundang, the Tupuri-Kera of Lake Fianga,the Massa of YaguaBongor and the Musgum-Guelegdeng.
The woodland centre. This part i s the Bantu domain of the equatorial forest. T h e population consists mainly of Fang/Bete and Ngala. In the
basin of the huge Congo (Zaire) River, into which the Sanga flows, live the Essel and Bakwele families of the Djem. Here, very small people, k n o w n as Pygmies, are to be found. The Sanga Valley forms a frontier between the Peoples Republic of the Congo and Cameroon. This is the h o m e of the Bakota families. Living i- the forests which cover northern Gabon and southern Cameroon are the Fang/Bilii, the Pongoue, the Mabea, the K o m b e , the Bayasa and certain Bete families. T h e Batanga, Duala and Malimba peoples live on the coastal plain of the Atlantic Ocean and along the shores of the major rivers such as the Wuri, the Dibamba, the Sanaga, the Lower Nyong, and especially i n the delta formed by the Sanaga and the Wuri. Mangrove trees, raffia palms and aquatic plants are characteristic features of the landscape. Living along the Sanaga are the Bokoko, the Mbene or Bassa, side by side with the Banen (or Bane) families, the Yangben, Bunyunguluk, Pakwak, Kiki and Lemande; these peoples are spread over the great valley bounded on the one side by the N k a m and on the other by the Sanaga. T h e Fang/Bete peoples, of which the chief families are the Ewondo, the Eton and the N g u m b a , live on the plateaux of the interior, from the edge of the great equatorial forest to the inland savannah. The forest region was progressively populated through migrations of the Bantu and Saharan peoples. Owing to exogamic marriages, hardly any of the inhabitants of t h i s region are ethnically pure. However, through genealogies, family descents are easily traceable. Community l i f ei s one of the basic characteristics of the civilization of the peoples of this region. Artistic and a l l other activities i n the community are undertaken by the group as a whole. For instance, one refers to Loloko, Musgum, Fulani, Fali, Tikar or B a m u m art, as one refers to Kaya, Duala, Bassa or E w o n d o thought, or again to the Banen system of the d r u m m e d coded message, or the Bamileke, Eton or Bete style of architecture.


The ethno-cultural framework

General features of Cameroon civilizations

It is difficult to speak of a Cameroon culture and therefore of a Cameroon civilization. In the preceding section, the great ethnic variety of the country has t were desired to establish been pointed out. Y e t i t is obvious that if i a n authentic identity card of the Cameroonian, i t would be a mistake to dwell on this apparent diversity. T h e t w o main h u m a n groups of the n Cameroon population are defined by the geographical environment i which they have lived since time immemorial, namely the Sahara Desert and the neighbouring steppes on the one hand, and the equatorial forest and nearby ocean on the other. T h e question then is to discover through w h a t obscure processes these t w o h u m a n groups joined together, intermingling biologically and spiritually, and produced the cultural mosaic that w e observe today. It seems to us that the best w a y to conduct such a n investigation successfully is to study the lann and guages of Cameroon, for not only is language the instrument i s forged, but i t is also one through which the spirit of the community i of its specific manifestations. Through it, the group organizes its means of exchanging ideas. Every community can be defined as a set of strucn which language enables rational use to be m a d e of the cultural tures i heritage of h u m a n society as a whole. M e m b e r s of the s a m e linguistic family share the s a m e culture. T h e y adhere to the s a m e system of values. Language i s the paramount instrum e n t of education, since i t is the vehicle of culture. T h e study of Cameroon i l l therefore reveal the cultural unity of the peoples of C a m e languages w roon, for i t w i l l s h o w the c o m m o n origins and motivations of the linguistic and social structures. T h e cultures of Cameroon are primarily oral ones. T h e y therefore n the main of narrations, stories, proverbs, songs and their consist i m a n y different variations and combinations. T h e various Cameroonian peoples have a n oral literature interpreting daily life and its vicissitudes, the history of the nation and the valiant deeds of its men, the dreams and concerns of all and sundry, the teachings of the wise, and the joys and sorrows of individuals or of the community. T h e h u m a n voice and gestures constantly interpret the culture of the people as a whole. T o express themselves, Cameroonians have invented simple instruments such as the t a m t a m and the parchment drum, but also simple and evocative dances. T h e most significant aspects of the art of speech are the muet of the Bete/Fang, the ngosso of the Ngala and the declaimings of the griot (wandering minstrel and sorcerer) of the Saharan peoples. T h e artist declaims his text to a n appropriate rhythm, accompanying himself on a n instrument whose music adds beauty to the narrative and supports the action. And w h e n words no long express

The ethno-cultural framework

the perfect c o m m u n i o n between b o d y and creative spirit, between the visible and the intangible worlds, the artist dances. Although i t has, of course, its o w n specific meaning, the dance can nevertheless only give artistic support to a n event whose significance and magnitude are deeply and intensely felt by the individual or the group. It is a secret language requiring initiation. T h e very objects which i t uses assume m a n y different meanings that reveal the metaphysics of the Cameroonian societies. In addition to languages, therefore, the metaphysics of the C a m e roonian peoples is a second constant of Cameroonian culture. T h e religious ideas of the peoples on the southern slopes of the A d a m a w a centre around the concept of a supreme being called N y a m b e or Z a m b a , w h o created all things and engendered M a n , and is both male a n d female. Around this basic conception of the power of Nature, religions peculiar to each people have evolved. E a c h of t h e m describes m a n as a n ambivalent being, at once material and immaterial, a n d assigns to bis various mental and physical components destinations which determine h o w he w i l l fare during his lifetime and after his death, as well as the attitude of his survivors towards him. B u t above all, these religions all agree that the sovereign Creator acts u p o n his creatures by m e a n s of a fluid, a n aggregate of psychic material forces whose m o v e m e n t i n creation gives rise to important events. T h i s fluid is i n N y a m b e . By means of a n u m b e r of rites and cultural practices, m e n can acquire i t either directly, ox through the m e d i u m of s o m e object. That is the justification for initiation rites, incantations and the faith i n w h a t are k n o w n as the strong elements. In this philosophical and religious context, the organization of society, and more specifically the fundamental docial cell constituted by the family, assume particular importance. As for political organization, all the social communities i n Cameroon have points i n c o m m o n . T h e family i n the broad sense of the termis the basic political structure. It stands for a community freely accepted n Tunen) is a c o m p o a m o n g different individuals. T h e nikul (family i nent of the forces making u p the community. T h e nikul is composed of several households, moo1 m a nikul, which are collective forces c o m municating harmoniously w i t h each other. T h e conjugal household, or n the narrow sense, is the starting-point of the political order. family i In the former typology, the dzal (village) of the Bete is the geopolitical unit, comprising several lineages, within which a multitude of relationships exist between villagers. Within each dzal is the basic cell, nda (house), a family w i t h a head w h o exercises his authority over the entire household (ndabot). A m o n g the Duala, the dzal i s k n o w n as the ndab, or better ukon or mundi. T h e B a n e n form a group i n a concession consisting of

s t a ,


The ethno-cultural framework

several houses; i t is k n o w n as a n ombel and is headed by a chief, the mwitombel. H e is the sango a mboa a m o n g the Duala, or the nti of the Bete, the nobleman, the lord, the one w h o c o m m a n d s . Several concessions m a k e up a large village, the bonon of the Banen, m a l l rural c o m m u n e s with a where one finds tutik (village centres), s higher-ranking chiefdom. In Bamileke countries, the communities m a d e o ,a m a n vested with u p of several villages are headed by a chief, the F powers which he exercises with the assistance of the nkam, dignitaries o owes his exceptional status to the and notables of the country. T h e F fact that he represents the founder of the chiefdom, whose person h e perpetuates. T h e old Bamileke power system, owing to its hereditary character, is a n African autocratic political organization with m a n y advantages, such as the following: Stability of the system. T h e future Fo is gradually initiated and prepared over a long period for the responsibilities of government that w i l l be entrusted to h i m by the people w h e n he has demonstrated his ability to c o m m a n d . T h e facility of succession. Future governors are trained for power and rule by their education. Nkam-veuh. This political institution, which assists the F o in his duties, a council of nine notables to which the Meuh-Feuh, the queen mother, is added. T h e n e w Fo is appointed by the council. T h e role of the Nkanveuh is that of a mediator between the people and the chief. T h e Pah-ngop.This is a council composed of dignitaries w h o wear fashioned panther skins over their ritual costume. It is responsible for organizing the dances and various ceremonies accompanying the funerals of chiefs. Its m e m b e r s dance to the sound of musical instruments, n the batik, the Bamileke loin-cloth. T h e y see to i t that dressed i the ethics of the community are respected. In B a m u m country, i t is the Mfon, or king, w h o administers justice. H i s powers are hereditary. A m o n g the B a m u m , there are seven advisers j i or Nzu, influential notables and faithful c o m p a to the throne, the N nions of the Mfon.T h e B a m u m political model is similar to that of the Bamileke, except that the Mfon, on his conversion to Islam, adopted n politics as well as i n religious matters. For the a syncretic attitude i Mfon is both king and sdtan of the B a m u m . Among the Bamileke, the o persists, but more and more often the chiefs become deputies title of F and ministers. In Duala country, there are certain authorities, the Manea, highranking chiefs who bore the n a m e of King Bell, King A k w a , etc. In the woodland centre, political life is more democratic than on the plateau. T h e forest peoples have councils, village assemblies: the mboko i n Duala, mbog in Bassa, nekot i n Tunen. O n the A d a m a w a plateau, the chiefs


The ethno-cultural framework

are both lamido and sultans; the old rgime w a s autocratic, as a m o n g the B a m u m and the Bamileke.

M o d e m ethno-cultural elements T h e contacts maintained willy-nilly with the European peoples installed i n Cameroon since the eighteenth century have led the Cameroonians to introduce n e w standards into their social, political and psychic universe. Thus foreign contributions have resulted i n the introduction of n e w food plants (plantain, banana, macabo, y a m , manioc), n e w m o d e s of dress, n e w cosmogonies and n e w social organizations. Relations within the various peoples have been affected by these m a n y different innovations. Christianity, for example, introduced a certain concept of the individual which h a d repercussions on institutions such as marriage, the i l l be stressed that chiefdom, and parental lineage. Of course, the fact w the abolition of slavery is a n undeniable advance, but i t m u s t be r e m e m bered that a m o n g most Cameroonian peoples, the notion of imprisonm e n t for a n offence did not exist; punishment consisted either of mutilation or of slavery-temporary or for life. It m a y legitimately be wondered whether imprisonment is not a reduction of the individual to slavery, and under conditions m o r e i n h u m a n than those to which slaves were formerly subjected a m o n g our peoples. Therefore, today w e can speak of a n e w ethno-cultural framework i n Cameroon, constituted by the languages of the former colonizing countries and by the cultural apparatus they imply. Our peoples and their components did not remain untouched by the cultural symbiosis that is typical of contemporary societies. It should be noted, however, that the desire to recover a certain cultural authenticity has today led individuals or groups to remodel foreign cultural elements into original patterns. Christianity has been stormed by the creative forces of the peoples of Cameroon. T h o u g h the basic theology s developing towards something closer to has not changed, the liturgy i the religious sentiment peculiar to each people. T h e ministers and priests of Cameroons churches are transforming Christian manifestations a n d ceremonies by making t h e m conform, if not entirely (for that would be impossible), at least ever more closely to ancestral forms of worship. For example, w e n o w hear of the Bantu mass, the Massa mass, and so forth. A l l forms of art undergo the s a m e process, whether literary or pictorial, theatrical or choreographic. T h e creative drive of poets, actors, painters, sculptors and musicians is developing a n e w cultural universe thanks to modern means, both intellectual and material. This m o v e m e n t is too well known throughout the contemporary world for us to waste time on describing i t here. Let us mention, incidentally, that Cameroon


The ethno-cultural framework

has given the world a musical and dance rhythm k n o w n as makossa, a word derived from the verb kosa, which means to remove suddenly and roughly (the verb is c o m m o n l y used i n speaking of tearing off someones clothes-or ones own-roughly and suddenly). In the dance called makossa, a shortened form of the expression kosa l a ngando (literally, undressing of the dance), the gestures and movements actually give the impression of a gradual strip-tease, not of the dancers, but of the action of the dance itself. T h e Cameroonian peoples, open to the manifold influences of the cultures of other peoples and having accumulated, i n the course of their age-long migrations, disparate elements whose exact origins or precise meaning can no longer be ascertained, have forged cultural microuniverses whose spheres are overlapping m o r e and m o r e closely. T h i s phenomenon is noticeable i n the spoken languages, i n attire and i n eating habits. W o r d s derived from French, Spanish or English terms have crept into several Cameroonian languages. T h e people are learning to eat the foods of other peoples and to dress as they do. T h e phenomenon of social mimesis, or a deeper desire to dissolve distinctions i n a national mould, is a very important factor i n the elaboration of the future culture of Cameroon. In conclusion, the Cameroonian ethno-cultural framework is very complex and its conceptual structure is still loosely defined. Bio-psychic elements continue to be of very great importance. Thus it is that feeling n cultural expression, i n the broadest sense. plays a preponderant part i i l l It is our impression that the victory of the mind over the heart w follow here the s a m e discursive paths as elsewhere.


The institutional framework

of cultural development

T h e institutional framework of Cameroon cultural policy w a s defined for the first time by the Congress of the Cameroonian National Union n March 1969. It w a s on that occasion that the President held at Garua i of the Party of the Cameroon National Union stated i n his report on general policy that the culture of the Cameroonian people is visualized i n the dual perspective of preserving its roots i n the past and adopting a progressive attitude towards the future. Following these lines, the i l l give Cameroon its identity card a m o n g the other national culture w peoples of the world. Cultural development, encompassing the whole range of traditional values (political, social, religious, artistic, literary a n d economic), must give t h e m a new look, so as not to petrify our m o d e of living i n the past, however rich i t m a y be, but to create a C a m e h i l s t at the roonian cultural personality capable of making history, w s a m e time remaining true to the authenticity of the solutions that its o w n genius w i l l find to the manifold problems of its future development. Thus defined, this philosophy faces us with specific objectives, the first of which is to arouse a national awareness aimed at fulfilling the destiny of the nation. n the depths National awareness is forged with the elemeEts found i of the psychism of a l l m e m b e r s of the population. Thanks to the diverse operations aimed at giving each citizen a clear picture of the necessary cultural tasks involved i n constructing a m o d e r n nation, the gradual forming of this awareness simultaneously follows the successive national n the cultural environment created by the institutional education stages i framework. In a country as ecologically varied as Cameroon, the first duty is to inject into the regional cultural entities the vigour which they, as the living cells of a body with manifold functions, m u s t have. And so, without at all overlooking the psychological importance of ethno-cultural realities, bilingualism offers the people a n initial means of unification, faci-


The institutional framework of cultural development

litating relations a m o n g subgroups and relations with the outside world. T h i s choice of language reflects the governments realistic political attitude. But, although national public relations are, for the moment, being n French and English, the spirit of the people is jealously conducted i n its original matrices, the mother tongues of the national preserved i territory, intensely used i n expressing Cameroons cultural personality. O n e of the goals of our cultural policy is to safeguard the individuals creative powers, i . e . to restore to each citizen his o w n personality. This recovery of dignity is what w i l l bring about the national integration from which a Cameroonian cultural personality w i l l emerge, capable of contributing to universal civilization vigorous and authentic elements derived from its original vision of the world, free from all foreign influence. This w a s the principle behind the establishment of the institutions responsible for cultural promotion.

T h e cultural centres T h e cultural centres are the oldest Cameroonian institutions of the colon i a l administration. Their mission is to preserve and develop certain aspects of our culture. Organized as centres of post-school and out-of-schoolactivities, these institutions were at once museums, libraries, theatres and cinemas, n the s a m e style as that lecture-rooms, etc. Their architecture w a s i of local dwellings. Technical improvements enabled t h e m meanwhile to n the chief towns of administrative units. T h e y were serve as models i usually located near the district school and were directed by m e m b e r s of the teaching profession. W i t h the creation of specialized adult-education services differing increasingly from those of the national education system, the cultural i l l c o m e under the Ministry of Y o u t h and Sports. centres w

T h e Federal Linguistic and Cultural Centre dated 31 March 1962, this insEstablished by Decree No. 62 /DF/108 titution serves as a centre for research on Cameroonian national cultures and for their inventorying, conservation and dissemination. Before the n the Ministry of foundation of the Department of Cultural Affairs i Education, Y o u t h and Culture, the centre w a s the chief State institution for cultural promotion. As such, i t w a s assigned responsibility i n 1966 for arranging the first Festival of Negro Arts i n Dakar. W i t h the assistance of its research staff, the Federal Linguistic a n d Cultural Centre has carried out several field missions, to collect oral traditions and to m a k e a n inventory of cultural assets.


The institutional framework

of cultural development

In view of the extension of bilingualism i n Cameroon, the linguistic section of the centre, i n whose educational activities there is constantly growing participation, has been strengthened. T h e centre is installed at s less i n the provinces where English is Yaound. Hence its impact i more c o m m o n l y used. These provinces have requested the setting-up of similar centres at B u e a or Victoria.

T h e Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture

In August 1965, a decree established a Service of Cultural Development (Decree No. 65 /DF/350 of 5 August 1965). Decree No. 68 /DF1268 of 12 July 1968, on the reorganization of the Ministry of Education, Y o u t h and Culture, transformed the said service
into a Department of Cultural Affairs consisting of t w o services: the Cultural Research, Education and Protection Service and the Cultural Promotion Service. T h e Department of Cultural Affairs, since that date, has become the governments instrument for cultural promotion. A t its prompting, the E l H a d j A h m a d o u Ahidjo Prize w a s instituted, and Cameroon cultural n foreign countries were organized. weeks and tours i It w a s also by the Department of Cultural Affairs that the Biennial Festival of African Books w a s organized as a n international manifestation of the culture of the negro world (1968). T h e festival w a s the starting-point for the publication of the Bibliography of the Negro World.

T h e Ministry of Information and Culture


Decree N o 721425, dated 28 August, the Ministry of Information and Culture w a s provided w i t h a Department of Cultural Affairs, which is therefore today the States chief instrument for cultural promotion. W e shall therefore quote in extenso Section V of the above-mentioned decree.

Article 31. Under the authority of a Director, assisted by a Deputy-Director, the Department of Cultural Affairs shall be responsible for implementing and promoting the national cultural policy. In this capacity, its duties shall be: to prepare an inventory of our cultural, artistic and literary heritage, and to ensure its protection, conservation, enrichment, promotion and dissemination ; to promote research in a l l the fields in which the national culture finds expression, either by setting up audio-visual archives, or by organizing surveys and studies likely to facilitate the understanding, dissemination and integration into modern l i f e of the elements of our cultural heritage;

The institutional framework of cultural development

n the artistic, literary and technical fields; to encourage the urge to create i to provide for the illustration, by appropriate means, of the national cultural l l levels; values, and for cultural promotion among the peoples at a to promote the artistic and literary influence of Cameroon i n foreign countries (exhibitions, lectures, tours, theatrical and folklore companies, festivals and cultural weeks, etc.) ; to maintain liaison with other cultural organizations-foreign or international; to supervise, throughout the national territory, a l l cultural centres and any organizations of a cultural nature-public or private, national or nonnational.

A r t i c l e 32. The Department

of Cultural Affairs shall comprise five services: the Cultural Promotion and Dissemination Service ;the Research Service; the Conservation Service; the Technical Service; and the Training Bureau.

A r t i c l e 33. The Deputy-Director s h d as~istthe Director of Cultural Affairs by discharging the various duties entrusted to him. A r t i c l e 34. The Cultural Promotion and Dissemination Service, placed under the authority of a Chief of Service, possibly with the assistance of a Deputy Chief, s h d be responsible for: cultural promotion throughout the national territory, by organizing or encoul l sorts and by disseminating artistic and literary works, raging shows of a particularly through the cultural centres ; encouraging creative work i n the fields of art, literature and audio-visual media; disseminating our cultural heritage abroad and implementing the national policy of cultural exchanges at all levels; n S C ~ O O ~ Sparticularly , through the production art education for adults and i i t h the Minister of National Education, and dissemination, in conjunction w of artistic and cultural documents, and programmes for the popularization of culture. The Cultural Promotion and Dissemination Service s h d comprise three bureaux: the Bureau of Arts, Literature and Music; the Bureau of Theatrical and Choreographic Activities ; the Bureau for the Organization of Leisure and Cultural Tourism. A r t i c l e 35.The Research Service, placed under the authority of a Chief of Service, n order to further possibly assisted by a Deputy Chief, shall be responsible, i knowledge of the national culture and to foster its development: for preparing an inventory of our cultural heritage by means of surveys and of collections of oral traditions, and for setting up cultural archives, in sound or written; for directing and supervising the research activities of the cultural centres; for promoting the studies deemed necessary i n every field and for supervising the execution of the various research projects undertaken; for co-ordinatingwithin Cameroon the research of foreign experts or organizations under the national policy of cultural exchanges. The Research Service comprises two bureaux: the Bureau of Written and Audiovisual Documentation and the Research Bureau.

The institutional framework of cultural development

Article 36. The Conservation Service, placed under the authority of a Chief of Service, possibly assisted by a Deputy Chief, is responsible: for the organization and administration of public museums ; for the supervision of museums and of public and private collections and galleries ; for the protection and conservation of sites, vestiges, monuments, objects and works of artistic or historical interest; for organizing, co-ordinating and supervising archaeological and prehistoric excavations and work-sites; for classifying the cultural assets belonging to the national heritage, and providing for their protection by appropriate legislation. The Conservation Service comprises two bureaux: the Technical Equipment Management and Control Bureau and the Technical Equipment Maintenance Bureau.

The National Council for Cultural Affairs

This body w a s set up i n 1973 by the H e a d of State. Placed under his direct authority, its purpose i s to inspire and stimulate national cultural life by fostering all aspects of artistic creation.

The Ministry of Youth and Sports

and the National Committee on Youth and Adult Education

In the address h e delivered to the first Congress of the Cameroon National Union held at Garoua i n March 1969, the President of the Republic
pointed out the emotional importance, the affective and spiritual reality of the tribal communities, psychic movements which are nourished by traditional cultural values. H e concluded that the Cameroonian nation could not be a sociologically more complete reality, at once objective t were and subjective, rational and affective, formal and concrete if i not endowed with a richer cultural content, but one fertilized by those traditional values i n which the most authentic life of the Cameroonian people is rooted. Such were the motives for the establishment, under the direct authority of the President of the Republic, of the National Committee on Y o u t h and Adult Education, whose Chairman i s the Minister of Youth, Sports and Adult Education. Its purpose i s to co-ordinate all the activities affecting youth. It is accordingly responsible for cultural promotion w o r k a m o n g the young, but also and above all, for adult education activities. T h e structures for cultural promotion a m o n g the young include the cultural centres and youth centres which were founded at a later date. n certain localities, meeting T h e cultural centres were, a n d still are, i


The institutional framework 06 cultural development

places where the people gather to read and learn, thanks to the matei l m s are shown, where facilities permit, recorded rials accumulated. F n s o m e cases, a l l sorts of artistic activities are music i s listened to and, i carried on. Here, too, traditional art has its place-handicrafts, vocal and instrumental music, dancing, theatre, etc. Subsequently, Decree No. 67 /DF/SO3 of 21 N o v e m b e r 1967, reorganizing activities involving youth and adult education at the national level, led the public authorities to establish national federations of youth movements. O n e of these, the Federation of Arts and Letters, set up to co-ordinate the activities of theatre companies and dance groups, w a s placed under the dual supervision of the Ministry of Y o u t h and Sports (Department of Youth) and the Ministry of Information and Culture (Department of Cultural Affairs).


Wooden mask representing a f l u t i s t at the Royal Court of Mfon Bamun.

Painting (on canvas) by the artist Tchangam.

Carved wood statuette

of a seated m a n eating a succulent fruit.

The throne of Fo Bamileke. It is entirely covered with pearls. A panther, symbol of power, supports the seat.

Carved wood statuette representing a woman with several children.

Statuette representing a father holding his twins.

Pottery: calabash resting on a cushion and a terra cotta urn.

Redele bafia dance. In each hand the dancers hold a fly-whisk, emblem of power.
Photas : National Commission of the United Republic of C a m e r o o n for Unesco.

The cultural policy

of Cameroon today

Address by the President of the Republic T w o events of paramount importance took place recently: the concurrent sessions of the Council for Higher Education and Scientific a n d Technical Research, and of the National Council for Cultural Affairs (18-22 December 1974), and the Second Ordinary Congress of the Cameroon National Union (10-15 February 1975). T h e opening address of the President of the Republic at the first meeting of the Council for Higher Education and Scientific and Technical Research forms a n important document, because it defines the m a i n principles of cultural policy. T h e text of the speech is as follows:

I have pleasure in presiding today over the first session of the Council for Higher
Education and Scientific and Technical Research and of the National Council for Cultural Affairs, two new institutions designed, as you know, to render the national policy fully effective in the fields of culture in general, and of education and scientific research in particular. In so doing, I wish not only to stress the importance I attach to the role of these councils in the process of the countrys development and of the nations construction, but also and above a l l to emphasize the fundamentally innovative nature of this dual event, m a d e more remarkable by the fact that the sessions of these two councils are being held concurrently, as if to signify their profound unity, in the sense of the wise m a n of antiquity who affirmed that all creative activities designed to give expression to h u m a n feelings have, as it were, a comm o n bond and are united as though by ties of blood. Adopting this point of view, our chief concern is therefore to delimit the sphere of this c o m m o n bond, within the framework of our national cultural unity, of the requirements of national construction and particularly of the peaceful revolution of 20 M a y which I described at the Youth Festival as a three-dimensional revohtion. I said at the time that our country is engaged in a threefold revolution: a political revolution through which it is building an independent State, strong


The cultural policy of Cameroon today

and efficient ; an economic revolution, through the Green Revolution, whose n a balanced and just manner; purpose is to promote the progress of every one i a cultural renewal which aims at restoring to the Cameroonian people their . e . to make them, and them alone, the sense of dignity and creative power, i subject of their o w n history. I further stated that these three basic revolutions, which w e are bringing i t h method, realism and efficiency, have but a single about peacefully, but w purpose, namely to promote Cameroon to the rank of an authentic nation in the concert of nations of the world. Awareness of the triple dimension of the peaceful revolution of 20 M a y preserves us from a restricted view of culture, from regarding it as an element i f e . isolated from all the other components of national l It forces us to take a birds-eye view of culture, seeing it i n relation to national life as a whole, and thus keeping closely to the original significance of culture which, it must be recalled i n a developing country such as ours, first of all means s , the transformation of the natural environthe art of cultivating the soil, that i ment which is essential to mans subsistence and to his mastery over Nature. It obliges us also to devise suitable measures for the complete integration of men, as w e l l as of principles and cultural activities, into the threefold movement of the national revolution with a view to the countrys progress and development. Awareness of the goals of the national peaceful revolution should therefore lead your two councils to highlight, from an over-all and not a restricted point of view, the particularly important role that culture should play as an essential means of cementing and consolidating national unity as an instrument of development and progress. It should also lead you to stress, in the final analysis, its decisive impact i n affirming the national personality, for culture i s , so to speak, the identity card of a nation. Awareness of our national identity, which informs our entire policy of national construction, shows that w e refuse any cultural alienation, that w e n all fields, have enough creative power to give that identity a concrete content i and that we are forever determined to forge our o w n destiny ourselves. What we must do, therefore, is to organize the kinetic energies available, especially among the young, w h o are destined to assume the tasks of cultural promotion, teaching and research. For its part, the government has neither shrunk from any sacrifice nor spared any effort to enable m e n of culture capable of awareness of the goals of the peaceful revolution to play their part fully in developing the country, whether the sacrifice was the constantly increasing financial one entailed by the University of Yaound, currently at its most flourishing stage, or that entailed by certain special measures or institutions established. There is no further need to dwell on the more and more complete Cameroonization of the University, which, without terminating co-operation with friendly countries, is regarded, as I have already said, as a factor essential to the affirmation of national sovereignty, through which w e intend, remaining true to ourselves, to create our national culture and to invent the means of erging our o w n destiny. This also presupposes, however, the Cameroonization of responsible posts, the discontinuance of foundations foreign to the university, and the handing


The cultural policy of Cameroon today

over to Cameroon of a l l foreign research institutes which were operating on the national territory, because scientific and technical research are in future to be carried out exclusively by our national institutions. The principles governing co-operative relations in this field are thus based increasingly on the cultural values and personality of each State, and, by the same token, on respect for the particular character of the Cameroonian people who, always anxious for dialogue and freedom, really intend to make co-operation a dynamic force in endeavours to achieve international understanding and solidarity, with a view to promoting the civilization of the universal. In this context, we established the National O f f i c e of ScientSc and Technical Research, responsible for carrying out, co-ordinating and supervising research activities throughout the national territory. As you know, this office consists of nine institutes specializing in the priority fields of national activity and called upon to maintain, with the university establishments, special relations which should enable scientific research to contribute, in all spheres and directly, to the nations progress in terms of the requirements of our countrys economic, social and cultural development plan. With the establishment of the National Council for Cultural Affairs, primarily designed as a body for over-all reflection on the definition and orientation of our national cultural policy, we can say that Cameroon now possesses efficient instruments capable of giving concrete content to the cultural renewal implied by the peaceful revolution of 20 May. As I have already said, that renewal,which is to coincide with the approaching i l l reach full maturity, makes it imperative for m e n period when the State w of culture, and particularly those destined to take part in the work of the two councils here assembled, to become thoroughly aware of their responsibilities and to give thought to the fundamental role which culture is to fulfil, at every level, i n strengthening national unity and in developing the country. I wish today, at this decisive turning-point in government policy, to draw attention to two matters in particular, on which I should like you to focus your work-namely participation and creative thinking. W h a t I mean is practical participation in the process of genuine integration into the threefold movement of the national revolution, and putting forward ideas on appropriate means of achieving such integration. This dual requirement of practical participation and creative thinking l l our activities in the should lead you to determine the principles and goals of a cultural sphere, the specific, priority tasks on which we should concentrate our efforts, and the regponsibilities which, at different levels, are incumbent upon m e n of culture, teachers, research workers and students. For no cultural activity, no training or research project or institution can, or should, be alien to the history o our nation and the requirements of national development ; every cultural activity should make a dynamic, practical contribution to the progressive movement of the nation. Participation must be understood, not as mere sentimental, passive attachment to national realities, but as a direct and active contribution to national construction, as actual integration in the national revolution, that authentic revolution which, as I have said, concerned with transforming the environment, has no utopian dreams, but knows only the hard everyday labour and effort to find out what changes are required for the countrys development.


T h e cultural policy of Cameroon today

Every genuine cultural activity implies that the entire nation must be involved i ni t , and not merely certain individuals or special groups; if i t takes the form of practical, dynamic participation and is truly integrated i n national realities, cultural activity can restore to creative initiative the drive needed to speed up national progress. O n the other hand, the urge to create something new is the essential thing, without which participation would m e a n inertia, degrading routine, tiresome repetitions, often disguising mere assimilation of foreign ideas-in short, cultural alienation. Artists, for example, should no longer simply learn to reproduce village scenes or imported songs; they should learn to use their imagination,re-creating n a n original fashion, drawing on their talent and producing the village scenes i by creative work something new, significant of the strength of the spirit of the Cameroonian people. Hence cultural activity must rely, first and foremost, on the training of men; n which training is necesthis involves not only identifying the priority sectors i sary, but also and especially imagining and creating original systems of training, i l l prepare those concerned for practical participation,for actual integrawhich w tion i n national activities and the national culture ; on a l l occasions, such training w i l l foster the creative faculties whereby the nation can forge ahead in its indomitable march towards progress. But i t is evident that this training of m e n is not possible unless the instructors themselves are fully aware of the magnitude of the task and of the imperative duties that devolve upon them. For i ti s precisely those responsible for bringing about, through their daily activities, this continuous mental revolution w h o n the must be the first to set a n example by their o w n practical participation i n the threefold movement countrys development and their real integration i of the national revolution,for, as I have already stated at the last Youth Festival, every revolution becomes imaginary and deteriorates into senseless dreams, if not into cultural alienation, when, instead of recognizing the particular sphere to which i t belongs, namely the actual conditions of the countrys soil which must be transformed, i t settles for empty, selfish demands and claims rights that do not correspond to real, practical duties. Teachers must become fully conscious of the fundamentally revolutionary goals of their teaching duties which have a basic civic dimension. Only such awareness can enable them to avoid the greatest pitfall ahead of them-that of being thinking individuals divorced from the realities of national life, and ready to place themselves at the service of special interests. The University, for which the government is making enormous moral and financial sacrifices, cannot and must not be an ivory tower of cultural alienation, i l l to achieve which would be only a source of disorder and contrary to our w independence and to affirm our national personality. The University, as I said at the Ebolowa Congress, must be a centre for the mobilization of minds, a national rallying point and source of pride, a means of cultural development contributing to the creation and consolidation of our young State. I declare here and n o w that the State cannot allow the normal functioning of this most propitious instrument for the nations development to be jeopardized by the selfish activities of citizens oblivious of their responsibilities at this vital turning-point i n our history.


T h e cultural policy of Cameroon today

For education, as I said to the Higher Council of Education i n 1965, is the hub of national life. And because its effects spread into every sphere, from

economic expansion to civic spirit, it involves our national future individually n and collectively. I further said that the goal to attain through education i our country is to make every Cameroonian a well-trained citizen, able to particin the management of the State, a producer w h o can pate more effectively i contribute to national prosperity by an increased output. It follows that every teacher worthy of the name, by educating, and not merely instructing, i s fundamentally a teacher of good citizenship. H e must be so, not only i n respect of the subject he teaches or the material advantages he thereby gains, but also and above a l l by his living example, which is often better followed by the pupil or student than the lessons on the subject he teaches. I therefore stated in the past that w e must have teachers who are not only grammarians or mathematicians but w h o are also trainers of men, w h o must be first and foremost models of living for their students. Those who, by virtue n objectivity, of their experience and knowledge, are called upon to give lessons i cannot and should not be prompted by negative, selfish or particularist motives, n their relations with their colleagues or i n the daily exercise of their whether i training duties: teaching must, in particular, be free of any spirit of tribalism, which can but warp i t and betray its mission. Teachers, research workers and m e n of culture consequently have no real n the vanguard of the struggle to consolidate national unity place other than i with a view to the development and well-being of a l l Cameroonians. O n this i l l the University, as I have said, be a true school of moral condition alone w rectitude, justice, adult responsibility, and not a means of evading the demands o duty and the requirements of society and of the State. n the current Hence there are fundamental changes to be made, not only i curricula, which are too classical and need to be better adapted to the actual conditions i n a developing country, but i n the systems of training and of integran national life, which must a l l aim at inducing students, teachers and tion i n the research workers to commit themselves energetically to participation i movement of general mobilization for the nations progress and development, and particularly for the Green Revolution. The relations between the University and the National Office for Scientific and Technical Research should probably be envisaged i n this context, the former finding directly i n the latters institutes of applied research a direct means of n the continuing promotion avoiding intellectual isolation and of participating i of development, as w e had already foreseen at the meeting of the Higher Education Council i n 1967. The unity of action of the two organizations w i l l inevitably exert an influence on the courses of instruction themselves which, instead of seeking thereby to inculcate knowledge of a culture foreign to our situation, w i l l gradually take i n n e w subjects directly related to national realities: our soil and subsoil, our crops and our fauna, our marine and river reserves, our thought and our history. Knowledge for us, I have also said, is not the pointless, bookish pedantry of nebulous or memorized theories. Knowledge, i n our country, must be rooted i n daily l i f e . That is why scientific and technical research must be above all the methodical application of creative initiative to the real, practical potentialities of the national soil, with a view to consolidating our economy, reinforcing


The cultural policy of Cameroon today

our independence and improving the living conditions of our citizens. Scientific and technical research must, in short, be an essential factor making for direct integration i n every field of the national construction movement. At this point, I should like to reiterate that culture must be viewed from the angle of total participation i n the life of the people, whose creative initiative must be aroused, and not merely from that of certain particular sectors. The National Council for Cultural Affairs should study the different ways of life of our people, and consider h o w to restore-starting at once with our childrens education-their rightful value to our tales, legends, games and languages, but without prejudice to the governments principle of preserving our age-old pluriculturalism, founded on the wealth of our cultural diversity. M a y w e always find everywhere this energetic participation and urge to create which are essential to cultural promotion, understood, according to m y definition of i t , as any activity which inspires men to do creative work, restores their sense of initiative and increases their capacity to participate in community life not as sleeping, but as full partners. Thus every effective cultural activity is basically if not a political, at least a civic, undertaking. The purpose of cultural activity, I have also said, must be to provide m e n with the m a x i m u m means of inventing their ends; i n the final analysis, it must be to trigger off i n the heart of our cities the civilizing process, whereby the simplest inhabitant of our villages m a y become a full-fledged citizen, capable of contributing, through his personal capacity for initiative, to the life of the nation and to the creation of its values. i l l follow i n your proceedings, These, then, are the guidelines that I hope you w which should make an important contribution to the task of national construction unremittingly pursued by our great National Party and the government. The principles governing our action are based on our refusal to believe that l l w e need to do n o w is to adopt there is no more knowledge to acquire and that a passively the solutions which other nations have invented, through their innate abilities, in order to solve the problems facing them in their o w n particular situation at a given point in history. Such a refusal does not mean that w e do not wish to benefit by the experience of others or by successful achievements throughout the world; on the contrary, it implies the need for energetic participation which is impossible without the urge and power to create. That is w h y the party and the government consider that planned liberalism, which, w h i l e recognizing the value of private initiative, directs it to serve the general interest, is based on a concept of energetic participan development and on the necessity to devise a method suited to our tion i o w n particular character and adapted to our historical situations. To declare that Cameroon must not be a mere consumer of other peoples ideas is to appeal to the spirit of the people of Cameroon; basically, it is to believe that the power of that spirit is capable of enabling our people to be masters of their fate in every sphere; it is to advocate research as the principal method whereby all our actions can be directed more effectively towards national development. Cameroon maintains that it has, undeniably, like all the peoples of Africa, which was the cradle of civilizations, its share to contribute to the general store of h u m a n knowledge, to the quest for the well-being of mankind within


The cultural policy of Cameroon today

the framework of the international solidarity which is essential if we are to found the civilization of the universal. This is the context in which the government is prepared to recognize the part which scientific research workers, teachers and artists, w h o are a l l seeking n the task of national constructo develop their creative powers, deserve to play i tion. The State w i l l not shrink from any sacrifice to support those who, despising vain and selfish ends, make it their constant endeavour to find means of defining more satisfactorily the principles and objectives of our activities and the ways and means of making them contribute more directly to the countrys progress, of making research one of the expressions of the revolution, peaceful and without upheavals, but sure and efficient, which the government and the party intend to bring about in every sector of national life. The mission of the artist, the teacher, and every research worker conscious of his responsibilities forms part of the destiny of a l l the people of Cameroon w h o are called upon to enlist in the cause of development on the work-site of national construction. T h i s task requires sustained national solidarity w i t h a view to greater efficiency at every level; it calls for unity of action to which every citizen should contribute in the daily battle for the nations progress. Conscious of the basic requirements for the cultural renewal that should l l called upon, enable us to build a civilization worthy of modern Africa, we are a through energetic participation and creative endeavours, to follow up the peaceful revolution of 20 M a y w i t h increasingly fruitful and practical achievements. Henceforth, therefore,we must feel more committed than ever to this struggle, i t h OUT fellow Cameroonians, to make our nation, constantly shoulder to shoulder w growing in strength, unity and prosperity, a beacon for Africas new civilization.

Education and training

(report of the Minister of Education)


T h e last meeting of what was, until the Decree of 17 April last, the Higher Education Council took place back i n M a y 1967. That decree replaced the council by a n institution with broader responsibilities, namely the Council for Higher Education and Scientific Research. Since M a y 1967, our higher education system has expanded i n a remarkable fashion, i n terms of both quantity and quality; so m u c h so that this expansion is itself becoming a source of problems, which m a k e it imperative for the nation as a whole to be as much concerned with higher education as w i t h primary education and general or technical secondary education, with which higher education is inseparably linked. In other words, higher education must henceforth be considered as


The cultural policy of Cameroon today

closely geared to the other sectors of the national education system and, generally speaking, to the other poles of interest connected with the over-all policy of organizing and using the h u m a n resources of the nation. F r o m this point of view, the nature of the other types of education and the foreseeable characteristics or constants of the national labour market called for a critical re-examination and readjustment of our n the light of its evolution since 1967. T o lay d o w n higher education i the guidelines for such a readjustment is the duty of the Council for Higher Education and Scientific and Technical Research. T h e development of higher education since 1967 has been marked n the n u m b e r of establishments at first of all by a constant increase i that level regrouped within the University of Yaound. That increase was, of course, accompanied by a gradual diversification of the types of higher education, themselves corresponding to the basic needs i n respect of key personnel of a nation called u p o n to be responsible for its o w n survival and development. T h e year 1969 witnessed the beginning of medical training, at higher and middle levels, with the establishment of the University Centre of s destined to Health Sciences (CUSS). That institution is training-or i train-not only doctors, but also health service technicians and auxiliary personnel. T h e s a m e year also s a w the establishment of the Industrial Managem e n t Training Centre, which has since become the Industrial Administration Institute (IAE). In 1970,the Y a o u n d International College of Journalism (ESIJY) was founded. It w a s the outcome of inter-African co-operation i n the field of higher education and today admits, i n addition to Cameroonian nationals, young people from other Central African States and Togo. In 1971,the Cameroon Institute of International Relations (IRIC) w a s set up. Finally, also i n 1971,the National Polytechnic College (ENSP)w a s inaugurated; this establishment has introduced into Cameroon advanced n development technological instruction destined to play a vital part i strategy. t m a y be said F r o m the point of view of educational structures, i that the main feature of the period concerned w a s the embryonic development of a higher vocational and technical education system whose n high-level posts i n graduates could immediately obtain employment i the civil service or i n the public or semi-public sector (doctors, diplomats, engineers, journalists, e t c . ) , whereas efforts during the preceding period (1962-67)had been focused more on the organization of education of a general nature provided by the faculties, all of which were founded during that period. Therefore w e can n o w say that, since 1974,Cameroon has, at the


The cultural policy of Cameroon today

structural level, the two types of higher education commonest throughout the world, i . e . education of a utilitarian nature (technical and vocational), and general education of a pre-utilitarian type. And it i s n the relationship between these two types of instruction that probably i w e must look for the terms i n which the problems of higher education are henceforth posed i n our country. For it i s impossible not to see that these two types of education, as they have thus far been developed i n Cameroon, are quite different and even somewhat opposed: on the one hand, w e have training that is utilitarian and selective ( i . e . reserved for a very small number) and, on the other, general education for large numbers of students who, on graduation, cannot be integrated at once i n the production process. This i s what emerges from a study of changes i n the number of students during the period under review. The total number of students enrolled i n the establishments of the University of Yaound has steadily increased, whereas the number of students enrolled i n the colleges or institutes (including the CUSS) has, on the contrary, constantly decreased (cf. Tables 1 and 2 ) . The trend i sa l l the more remarkable i n that the opening of the National Polytechnic College not only did not help to reverse it, but even coincided with the beginning (1971/72)of the quantitative decline i n higher technical and vocational training (cf. Table 2 ) . And so, paradoxically, the efforts m a d e during the period concerned to promote this type of education have so far yielded only poor results i n practice; as for the development of higher technical and scientific education,apparently satisfactory despite a slight decline i n 1970/71(Table 3 ) , this i s solely due to the constant increase i n the number of students enrolled at the Faculty of Science, which i n fact provides only nonvocational education. Hence it would appear that, i n order both to cope with the constant increase i n the number of candidates for higher education and to m a k e the latter more functional, the introduction of radical changes i n the relationship between technical training and general pre-vocational education must be contemplated. Such changes should be aimed at developing,very quickly, a type of higher and semi-highertechnical education which, i n the near future, could accommodate at least as m a n y students as higher education i n the social sciences and humanities can do. In other words, technical and vocational education, described above as utilitarian, must, like general education, be able to cater for large numbers of students. At the same time, general education curricula i n k between should also be radically revised so as to establish a close l theory and the concepts of general subjects, on the one hand, and the objectives to be pursued i n transforming our national society, on the other. T h i s policy depends on the progress of the other levels of education


cultural policy of Cameroon today

. Q

c, O



" m


S k

' o ,


The cultural policy of Cameroon today

T y p e of education

The two major types of education (expressed in percentages)

1967168 1968169 1969170 1970171 1971/72 1972173 1973174

Higher general instruction (faculties) Higher technical and vocational education (grandes &o.les, institutes,including the CUSS)








12.35 100

22.50 100

22.06 100

23.3 100

22.89 100

21.72 100




Higher scientific and technical education as compared with the rest of higher education (percentages) 1967168 1968169 1969/70 1970171 1971172 1972173 1973174


Higher scientific and technical education (Faculty of Science, ENSA,Polytechnie College) The rest of higher education

------100 100 100 100


10.2 89.8

14.46 85.54

17.68 82.32

14.46 85.54

19.70 80.30

23.92 76.08

25.49 74.51




whose growth sooner or later has repercussions on higher education. For instance, the n u m b e r of pupils at those levels for the school year 1973/ 74 is as follows (provisional figures, April 1974, compiled by the statistical and planning services of the Ministry of Education, Planning Division, School Statistics Service, appearing i n .the brochure Aperu sur l a Scolarisation en Rpublique Unie du Cameroun): Pre-school and primary education levels, 1,012,778 pupils; domestic science and rural handicrafts sections, 3,009 ;technical education, 23,737 ; teacher training, 1,452 ; general secondary education, 83,236. Nearly 25,000 pupils thus attend technical schools and approximately 90,000 attend general secondary schools. Unfortunately, w e do not yet have any mobility studies relating to school drop-outs and the rates of promotion from one class to the other, which would enable us to foresee approximately the potential d e m a n d for higher n the years ahead. However, studies currently under w a y at education i the Ministry of Education and bearing on the comparative growth of the


The cultural policy of Cameroon today


I n d e x e d g r o w t h of t h e n u m b e r of pupils and students i n terminal classes or i n their first year of higher studies

Terminal classes School year

N u m b e r of pupils

First year of higher studies N u m b e r of studentsz



1969/702 1970/71 1971/72 1972/73 1973174

1,290 1,602 2,149 2,588 3,137

100 124 167 201 243

947 1,209 1,418 1,960 2,468

100 128 150 207 261

1. N o t including capacitaires,i.e candidates for the capacit8 en D r o i t (see note 2 to table 1 ) . 2 . Base = 100.

n u m b e r of students i n the terminal classes or i n their first year of studies i n the establishments of the University of Y a o u n d (since 1969) g' ive us ) . s o m e idea (Table 4

T h e work of Committee No. 1, on the general orientations and developm e n t of higher education and of scientific research, took place under the chairmanship of Mr F. T o n y e Mbog, Minister of Y o u t h and Sports, with the active participation of: the President Moussa Yaya, deputy; Messrs Keutcha, Minister of Agriculture; K w a y e b , Minister of Labour and Welfare; R. Mbella Mbappe, Chancellor of the University; G.Bwelle, Technical Adviser on Cultural Affairs to the Presidency of the Republic; G.Ngango, D e a n of the Faculty of L a w and Economics; R.Wandji, ViceD e a n of the Faculty of Science; Soppo Ndongo, Director of the Teacher Training College ; N y a Ngatchou, Deputy Director-Generalof ONAREST; Niat Njifenji, Director-General of the National Electricity C o m p a n y of Cameroon (SONEL);J. A. Ndongo, Chief of the School Planning and Guidance Division of the Ministry of Education; N d o u m b e Manga, Chief of the Mines and Energy Documentation Division; A d a m o u N d a m Njoya, Director of the Cameroon Institute of International Relations. As part of the task assigned to it, the committee deemed i t desirable to discuss the problems involved i n defining the general orientation of higher education and scientific research, and the practical aspects which they necessarily implied, with a view to the participation by teachers, n development. research workers and students i T h e committee endorsed the main guidelines traced by the President of the Republic i n his opening address, i . e . that the requirements of the



cultural policy of Cameroon today

National Commission and particularly of the peaceful revolution of 20 M a y involved the country i n a threefold revolution: a political revolution, a n economic revolution, and cultural renewal. n the life of the nation, T o define the place of university education i the committee singled out four aspects: the University as a political instrument ; the University as a n instrument for development; the University as a n instrument for the promotion of scientific research; and the University as a n instrument for the training of key personnel.

The University as a political instrument

T h e basic conclusion reached by the committee w a s that the University,

i n so far as i t w a s destined to form part of national political life, which was governed by principles defined by the party, must be politically
committed by fitting into the partys structures. n the past, be a n ivory tower or, For the University must not, as i as the H e a d of State h a d said, a centre for thinking individuals divorced from the realities of national life; i t must emerge from its ivory tower and serve as a n instrument for the construction and strengthening of national awareness and unity. As those responsible for arousing national awareness, which w a s the first duty of the University at the political level, professors and research workers must develop their civic sense and transmit i t to their students; i n other words, the university professor should be a teacher of good citizenship, to repeat what the H e a d of State had said. It w a s the duty of research workers and professors, as it w a s that of students, to militate i n the Cameroon National Union and to contribute i n a practical w a y to the creation of national awareness. While recognizing that the search for w a y s and m e a n s of making the University a true political instrument w a s a matter for specialists, the committee considered that the commitment of the University should be assured from the threefold angle of its structures, curricula, and n order that i t might produce citizens speaking professors and students, i the language of the country and reasoning like Cameroonians concerned with the development and prestige of their country.


University as an instrument for development

T h e committee noted i n this respect that the University h a d so far merely fulilled its traditional role of training key personnel, a role all n terms of our development requirements i n that the more inadequate i university education h a d to a large extent failed to adjust to national realities and to the imperatives of national development. T h e committee considered that a change of policy w a s necessary to give the University m o r e drive as a n instrument for development.


The cultural policy of Cameroon today

Curricula and syllabuses should henceforth be adapted to national needs and objectives. T o play its rightful part as a magnet and a beacon, the University must be more practical; i t must draw its inspiration from contact with real national conditions by joining i n basic training and development campaigns, by combining the education it provided with practical instruction, with training courses in the field. It w a s precisely by adapting itself to these real national conditions, by aiming at the attainment of national objectives, that university education would contribute to national development. n order to conduct this analysis of the dynamic T h e committee, i n future to be established between the Unirelationship which ought i versity and national development, gave thought to possible n e w trainn the Green ing systems and to actual participation by the University i Revolution, held to be the most decisive factor i n our economic revolution.

New training systems. It seemed to the committee that to introduce n e w and original training systems would perforce entail reorganizing and adapting the university curricula, which were ineffective partly because they bore no relation to actual national conditions. University education must consequently be reformed and adjusted as far as possible to those conditions. W h e n the system that teachers were obliged to follow, for want of any better one, did not entirely conform to the national ideal, they should d o their utmost to adapt i t . n order to fulfil its role as a n instrument for develT h e University, i opment, should not only provide extramural practical training, but should also recruit professionals from outside. T h e examples might here be cited of the IRIC, E S I J Y , CUSS and the Pan-African Development Institute (IPD).

The University and the Green Revolution. As regards participation by the University i n the Green Revolution (meaning the land reform decided u p o n by the President of the Republic), three possible lines of action were explored. First of all, the committee considered that the University should n research designed contribute to the Green Revolution by taking part i to free agriculture from its manifold technical, sociological and psychological constraints. Such research should be directed towards the priority sectors, be multidisciplinary as far as possible, and lead to the popularization of its findings through cultural promotion programmes and the sending of cultural organizers to work a m o n g the peoples i n rural areas. Second, the University could contribute to the Green Revolution by training key personnel i n agriculture at specialized schools which should henceforth be more widely accessible to candidates. n the Green Revolution by Third, the University could participate i

The cultural policy of Cameroon today

n the productive activities of enabling students to help their families i agricultural life. T o that end, schools a n d the University should follow the rhythm of agricultural production, the vacation periods coinciding with sowing and harvesting times. A n effort should be m a d e to readjust the vacation periods accordingly. Fourth, the University could contribute to development by taking an active part i n the experimental w o r k projects of the National Office for Development Participation.

The University as an instrument for the promotion of scientijc research

T h e committee preferred to speak of oriented research, not finding i t necessary to distinguish between basic and applied research. T h e orientation must depend on the ability of such research, considered as a whole, to promote development. Consequently, priority, but not exclusive preference, must be given to research oriented towards development. T h e committee noted that, at the present stage of our Universitys development, no structure existed for the training of research workers and that a n e w policy should be proposed, i . e . to introduce a third cycle specifically designed to train students i n theoretical and practical research. Such research training, however, would not be profitable for development unless there w a s a connexion between i t and the ONAREST research institutes. B u t that connexion being on the agenda of C o m mittee No. 3, Committee No. 1 did not go into the matter.

The University as an instrument for training key personnel

T h e role of the University i n training key personnel supplemented its political role, for such training should contribute to the affirmation of the national personality, since a country could not be really independent n the hands of its nationals. unless the m a n a g e m e n t of its affairs w a s i Hence the importance of the Cameroonization of the University. T h e committee recognized, however, that i t w a s not possible, with the system or the present structure of our University to turn out key personnel w h o could be used at once. T h e causes of this state of affairs were as follows: the very great population growth m a d e any attempt to predict enrolments difficult; the rate of failures (50-60 per cent) w a s too high during the first t w o years of study i n law a n d economics, certain types of instruction being unsuitable. All these observations led to consideration of the relationship between the training profile and possibilities of employment; beside the key personnel training system, i t appeared necessary to establish a plan for


The cultural policy of Cameroon today

n the various sectors, both i n those correspondplacing such personnel i ing to other sectors, such as agriculture, handicrafts, small- and m e d i u m n those i n the public or private domain, so that sized industries, and i
the actual training could be geared to the requirements of the jobs for which the graduates concerned might wish to apply. Hence the need for the following: to supervise vocational guidance and to select students for University entrance, since the secondary-school leaving certificate (baccalaurat)no longer qualified t h e m automatically for admission; to cease regarding the University as the sole m e a n s of getting into the training circuit, and to think i n terms of guidance towards other types of training institutions, particularly those providing technical and vocational training; to explore the possibility of establishing the plan for n employment on the basis of the countrys actual placing personnel i needs and available resources (so as to k n o w i n what direction to guide students); to set up machinery for permanent co-operation between user sectors and training institutions; to think of this training as part of the educational system i n general and to devote special attention tothe penultimate secondary-school class, i n which the various sections to be taken for the baccalaurat were introduced, and this inevitably meant reconsidering the educational network as a whole. T h e committee recommended improvement of the selection and guidance of candidates for university entrance, a long-term process which i n practice would entail reorganization of the educational system on the basis of the countrys fundamental objective of development focused on transforming the rural environment i n the near future, systematic vocational guidance at the upper secondary-school level towards technical institutions, and increased facilities for entrance to specialized establishments.


The Council for Higher Education and Scientific and Technical Research, meeting at Yaound from 18 to 20 December 1974, Considering that the foreign inspiration which has hitherto prevailed at the University has not been conducive to making it a powerful instrument in the service of national awareness and political action; Considering that the University has so far had a tendency to be a sort of ivory tower and consequently was failing to contribute as it should to the creation of national unity and awareness; Persuaded that our University must fit into the national revolution of 20 May, particularly in respect of the political realities the principles of which are laid down by the Cameroon National Union Party; Conscious of the political and civic dimensions which a l l teaching and research in Cameroon must include, as a means of building up national awareness;


The cultural policy of Cameroon today

Recognizing that all attempts to make the University a truly political instrument must perforce be made through the structures of the party; Recommends That the university be politically committed to the political principles laid d o w n by the Cameroon Party of National Union, so as to serve ever more effectively as an instrument for forming and strengthening national awareness and unity ; That professors and research workers should be true teachers of good citizenship and take their place in the vanguard of national construction, both through their teaching or research and through their energetic participation in party activities; That this commitment of the University should be manifest at the threefold level of its structures, its curricula and its professors and students, so as to turn out citizens speaking the language of the country and reasoning like Cameroonians concerned with the development and prestige of their country.

R E C O M M E N D A T I O N NO. 2 C O N C E R N I N G T H E U N I V E R S I T Y AS A N I N S T R U M E N T F O R D E V E L O P M E N T

The Council for Higher Education and Scientific and Technical Research, meeting at Yaound from 18 to 20 December 1974, Considering that the particular mission of the University, broadly speaking, i s to reflect the nations objectives by adapting its teaching to them and n the struggle for development; thereby becoming practical and involved i Considering that our University, for historical reasons and due to the influences to which i t has been subjected, has not so far been able to fulfd its role completely; Considering that one ofthe causes ofthis comparative ineffectiveness is the unsuitability of the training system, particularly as regards curricula and syllabuses; Considering that reorganization of the University on lines more propitious for development must perforce be done through internal and extramural practical training, and consequently through close collaboration between the teachers of theoretical knowledge and professionals working outside the University ; Considering that, at the present stage of our national development, this role as an instrument for development must at all costs m a k e allowance or the imperatives of the Green Revolution; Recommends 1. The planning and implementation of original training systems, drawing on the national territory for their inspiration and for most of the content of their curricula. 2. A reorganization of the University on lines more propitious for development, i . e . providing a training that i s at once both theoreticaland practical,i n collaboration with professionals working outside the University. 3. A more radical policy of consulting members of the University and including n the machinery whereby national decisions are prepared or finalized. them i 4 . In particular, increased participation by the University in agricultural or agronomic research intended to free agriculture from the manifold technical,


T h e cultural policy of Cameroon today

sociological and psychological constraints impeding the Green Revolution, which i s the determining factor in our development. 4(a). Systematic popularization of the findings of such research, through programmes for the promotion of rural areas. 5. Stepping up of the training of key personnel i n agriculture at the Universitys specialized schools, which must henceforth be more widely accessible to those w h o have passed the baccalaurat. 6. Increased participation by students and professors in the Green Revolution, n the productive activities either by enabling them to help their families i of agricultural l i f e , or by their active participation in the experimental work n Development. projects of the National Civic Service for Participation i

The Council for Higher Education and Scientific and Technical Research, meeting at Yaound from 18 to 20 December 1974, t is one of the Universitys main duties to conduct research, Considering that i i n order not only to improve theoretical and practical knowledge, but also to ensure that national policy rests on scientific, and therefore reliable foundations; Considering that such research,i n an underdeveloped country like ours,should be constantly geared to the requirements of national development and therefore strike a balance between fundamental and applied research; considering that, to this end, the University must have an appropriate structure for research training which cannot be profitable to development unless there n i s a connexion between i t and the various national institutes specializing i applied research; Recommends 1. Introducing at the University a third cycle for the training of research workers at the higher education level. 2. Taking account, i n launching this third cycle, of the need to give priority, but not exclusive preference to research oriented towards increased ability n our to cope with our specific national conditions and greater effectiveness i development. 3. Establishing close collaboration between the Universitys research departments and the new research institutes organized within ONAREST. 4 . Providing the University with substantial resources in the matter of documentation and laboratories,so as to give substance and effectiveness to the third cycle and, more generally speaking, to national research at the university level.

The Council for Higher Education and Scientific and Technical Research, meeting at Yaound from 18 to 20 December 1974,


The cultural policy of Cameroon today

Considering that, for the party and the government,the training of key personnel and particularly a qualified staff for senior executive posts is a prerequisite for any national development; Considering, however, that unless the training of a countrys key personnel is properly directed and takes account of the countrys potentialities and the need to place such personnel in suitable jobs, development w i l l inevitably be hindered ; Considering that training which is not properly directed, particularly at university level, has serious disadvantages ; Considering that, a developing country like ours, which, though devoted to humanistic ideals, should place the accent more particularly on the training of technical and scientific key personnel at all levels; Recommends 1. Improved selection and guidance of students for university entrance, which, i n practice, would entail in the long run the remodelling of our countrys educational system with a view to our fundamental objective, i.e. development designed to transform the rural environment; in the near future, it would involve methodical vocational guidance, at the upper secondaryschool level, towards technical training institutions, and increased opportunities to enter specialized educational establishments. 2. Establishing machinery for co-operation between the University and the sectors of activity, and updating the employment survey conducted by the government.

Committee No. 2, or the Committee on Pedagogy, w a s called u p o n to examine t w o problems: the problem of the present unsuitability of higher education curricula (reform of curricula and of current training, and development of technological education) ; the problem o f the status of teachers. The committees Chairman w a s Mr Bernard Bidias Ngon, Minister of Education. In addition, the following people took part i n the w o r k of the c o m mittee: Messrs Vroumsia Tchinaye, Minister of Public Administration ; P. F o k a m K a m g a , Minister of Health and Public Welfare; Sadjo A n g o kay, Minister of Stock Farming and Animal Industries; C. D o u m b a , Minister of Information and Culture; J.-M. B i p o u n - W o u m , Director of Higher Education; J. Minlend Nyobe, Director of Scientific a n d Technical Affairs i n the Ministry of Planning and Territorial Development; Ngu A n o m a h , Vice-chancellor of the University of Y a o u n d ; E. Njoh Mouelle, Secretary General of the University of Y a o u n d ; F. Mbassi Manga, D e a n of the Faculty of Arts and H u m a n Sciences; G. L. Monekosso, Director of CUSS; H.Bourges, Director of ESIJY;E. Soundjock, Director of the National Institute of Education; R. O w o n a , Chief of the Central Division of Rural Development i n the Ministry of Agriculture;


The cultural policy of Cameroon today

S. Nelle, Chief of the Scientific Division of ONAREST; G. Biwole, Director of Studies of ESIJY;J. K a m m K o m , Professor. T h e discussions of the committee were frank and showed that all m e m b e r s were very clearly aware of the difficulties and distortions n our higher education. currently obtaining i For instance, most of the speakers on the first item on the agenda, having praised the clarity and relevance of the working papers submitted by the Minister of Education, resolutely embarked on objective and dispassionate criticism of the present system of higher education, and more particularly of the system of faculty studies. For, as everyone admitted, what w a s involved w a s the faculties, with their impressive n keeping with array of degrees (licences) which were not altogether i the nations real needs, the conception and organization of studies at the other institutions of higher learning (grandes coles) having been n that respect. deemed satisfactory i Several committee m e m b e r s pointed to the imperative necessity of reorganizing the training provided by the faculties and giving it a professional slant, so that students could be fitted smoothly and effectively into the production circuit. It w a s likewise emphasized that one of the causes of failure of the present system w a s that the teachers themselves, or at least most of them, had been trained abroad, and consequently could not contribute n a manner properly to the inculcation of the knowledge they imparted i useful to students. Hence, the Committee m e m b e r s unanimously recomn Cameroon, m e n d e d the speedy establishment of a doctorate course i so as to interest research workers i n national problems and to provide n higher education. a better training for professors i T h e committee m e m b e r s stressed, too, the need to devise a w a y of enabling the university to help towards the relaunching of cultural actin Cameroon, not only by training cultural organizers, but also by vity i participating i n the development of cultural information. That would be but one of the aspects of the universitys contribution to the task of national construction, requiring even greater participation by professors and research workers i na l l sorts of projects usually entrusted to foreign experts, and to the civic training which w a s essential if students were to understand the ultimate reasons for all the efforts they were called u p o n to m a k e while up at the university. M e m b e r s of the committee also deplored the lack of middle-grade and senior technical stafffrom which several sectors of national activity were suffering, and expressed the wish that a technological university should be founded. In dealing with the second item on their agenda, m e m b e r s of the committee became aware of the difficulties created by the diversity of foreign university traditions w h e n i t c a m e to recruiting and training teachers. T h e y unanimously recommended the introduction of a uniform

The cultural poiicy of Cameroon today

method of recruiting teachers, and particularly stressed the advisability of distinguishing between diplomas on the one hand and teaching experience and scientific publications on the other. A l l members of the committee thought it necessary to explore the possibilities of stimulating the desire to create so that university profesi t back sors, who benefited by good material conditions, should not s and do nothing, thus slowing up research activities at the university. Discussions of this problem accordingly wound up with the suggestion that teaching assistants should be given a status which would oblige them to work towards their integration,i.e. to take an interest i n scient i f i c research. AU these discussions resulted i n the following recommendations: The Council for Higher Education and Scientific and Technical Research, 8 to 20 December 1974, meeting at Yaound from 1 Considering that higher education and scientific research must play their part f u l l y as instruments of development and progress geared to the goals of the peaceful revolution; Considering that i n order to f u l f i l that role effectively, professors, research n an ivory tower, but workers and students must not shut themselves up i become part of the web of our multiform national l i f e as full-fledgedcitizens instead of remaining a group apart; Aware of the present disconnexion between the organization and conception of studies at the University of Yaound (at least as far as the faculties are na l l concerned) on the one hand, and the real requirements of development i i t s aspects, on the other; Considering that any training, i n order to be practical and effective,must be based on knowledge of the environment i n which graduates w i l l be called upon to work; Aware of the fact that continued reference to foreign structures i n the training n trying to understand the problems of key personnel is a heavy handicap i involved i n the strategy of the nations economic,social and cultural development ; Considering, on the one hand, the great shortage of middle-grade and senior technical personnel needed by the national economy and, on the other, the almost permanent contempt for manual and technical occupations which has existed since the colonial period; Considering that the diversity of the university backgrounds of candidates for teaching and research and the tenacious influence of certain traditions inherited from the past are not conducive to facilitating the discovery of n the matter of recruiting and original and genuinely Cameroonian solutions i classifying university professors and research workers; Considering that the conditions required of candidates for teaching posts i n higher education would be inadequate i f they did not call for experience and the publication of scientific works as well as a diploma;


The cultural policy of Cameroon today

RESOLUTION I Recommends that faculty studies be reorganized as soon as possible along lines permitting m a x i m u m and judicious utilization of the disciplines, both sociohumanist as well as scientific and technical,with a view to adapting them to the real needs of the nation and making i t possible for the knowledge acquired to be used immediately. T h i s reorganization must perforce be based on a precise description of the n order profile of the various key posts which must sooner or later be Ued i to meet national development requirements. R E S O L U T I O N II Recommends that every possible means be employed, both at the higher education level and throughout the various production circuits, to ensure the participan the activities of national tion of professors, research workers and students i development. R E S O L U T I O N III Recommends the establishment at the University of Yaound, within the shortest time possible, of a selective course of studies leading to the doctorate and capable n national of developing the interest of students and other research workers i problems and of providing more firmly rooted, and therefore more adequate, training for professors and research workers. R E S O L U T I O N IV Recommends that, with a view to giving students a more thorough knowledge of the facts of national l i f e , and to promoting more active teaching methods, every training circuit at the higher education level should consist of alternate periods of theoretical instruction and practical training, and that, at a l l events, the n order to give them a more practical bias, should be reform of teaching methods, i studied. In this connexion, the council, anxious for students to be integrated harmon the States areas of concern, recommends the introduction of citizenniously i ship training at the university. RESOLUTION V Recommends that, as part of its general mission to teach and stimulate culture, the university should help to train key personnel for cultural promotion programmes i n Cameroon and that, at the same time, i t should be ready, i n this n with all the cultural activities of the nation. field, to f i ti R E S O L U T I O N VI Requests the government to study the possibility of founding, within the near future, a technological university capable of providing the nation with the medium-grade and senior technical personnel required for the countrys economic progress. R E S O L U T I O N VI1 Recommends, as a parallel measure, the dropping of any method of recruiting or promoting university professors that is subject to foreign influence, and the


The cultural policy of Cameroon today

unification at the national level of methods of recruiting and promotion by the institution of national competitive examinations or lists of qualified candidates.
R E S O L U T I O N YI11

Recommends that the conditions for recruiting the teaching staff of the university be so redefined that no diploma shall automatically entitle the holder to a given academic post.

Recommends that the status of teaching staff be revised so as to consist of three grades: lecturer (charg de cours); senior lecturer (maitre de confrence); professor (professeur) ; and that teaching assistants henceforth form a body of personnel under contract for fixed periods and required to prove themselves competent before being incorporated as lecturers.

Committee No. 3 on Scientific and Technical Promotion w a s called u p o n to examine the role of technology in the nation. Under the chairmanship of Mr Youssoufa Daouda, Minister of Industrial and Commercial Development, its w o r k w a s conducted with the active participation of Messrs L u m a , Vice-Minister of Education; O n a n a A w a n a , Minister of Finance; S. Elangwe, Minister of Mines and Power; P. Tessa, Minister of Equipment, Housing and Estates; F. A. Gandji, Director-General of ONAREST; Menyonga, Director of the National Centre for Agronomic Research; J. Hentchoya H e m o , Deputy Director of Higher Education; S. M. Eno Belinga, Technical Adviser to the University of Yaound; Mathiew, Director of the National College of Agronomics; J. T c h u n d jang, Director of the Industrial Administration Institute; Bonthoux, Director of the National Polytechnic College; Bol A b m a , Deputy Director of the National College of Agronomics; T a y o u Simo, Deputy Director of the National Polytechnic College; J. P. Njoya, Attach, Office of the President of the Republic; J. Mboui, professor. The w o r k assigned to this committee w a s to lay down the m a i n guidelines for the promotion of science and technology. After a brief s u m m a r y of the report from the Minister of Planning a n d Territorial Development, followed by a rewarding discussion, the committee unanimously decided to deal w i t h the various aspects of scientific and technical promotion through the following points: 1. Basic research. T a k e stock of the current situation as regards basic n Cameroon. W h a t action should be taken to improve the research i conditions and orientation of basic research? 2 . Choice of technology. W h i c h technology to choose and why? W h a t action should be taken to develop what i s feasible locally? W h a t m e a n s should be employed to encourage a wise and effective choice of technologies suited to our needs?


The cultural policy of Cameroon today

3. Problem of research personnel and their status. H o w to offer attractive

n the nation career prospects to the research workers? W h a t place i should be reserved for research workers? W h a t can b e done to encourage the research worker? W h a t can be done for the continual renewal of the b o d y of research personnel? 4. Selection of research programmes. Base the selection on our real conditions and priorities. 5. M e a n s of implementing the programmes selected.

The Council for Higher Education and Scientific and Technical Research, meeting at Yaound from 18 to 20 December 1974, Considering that basic research, viewed from the twofold angle of advancing science and h u m a n knowledge and of afErming and promoting our national identity, is an essential task which our country must accomplish; Noting that, to a large extent, research work has been of an academic and universal nature, and has not been followed by the applications which are nevertheless indispensable; Noting that the choice of research themes or subjects has always been m a d e by isolated research workers, generally without any c o m m o n programmes and without any contacts among the research workers themselves or between them and the producers, w h o m a y use the findings of their research; Noting that, hitherto, research workers have not had the benefit of any scientific documentation worthy of the name; Noting finally that the result has been a certain scIerosis, after the academic work done by research workers w h o nevertheless showed definite promise; Recommends That our country make optimum use of its scientific personnel i n order to realize fully its objectives of economic, social and cultural development; That Cameroon participate on the same footing as other countries in the general explosive growth of science and technology; n the domain of basic research; That the University make appropriate efforts i That the selection of research themes or subjects be the subject of permanent consultation between the University and ONAREST; That the formation of research teams be encouraged; That ONAREST undertake as soon as possible the compilation of a national scientific card-index.

Considering that our country i ss t i l l one a predominantly rural character; Considering that the basic aim of technology in Cameroon must therefore be to promote rural development, particularly through the policy of the Green Revolution ;


The cultural policy of Cameroon today

Noting That the inventory of our resources and needs i ss t i l l incomplete except, fortunately, i n regard to agriculture; That our technological development has hitherto taken the form of a mere technological transfer, while traditional technology remained static; Recommends That work on the inventory of our national scientific potential, started a few years ago, be energetically pursued and that the inventory be kept constantly up to date; That our national resources be given priority i n supplying the raw materials for scientific and technical research; That prospective studies be undertaken to determine our needs. in preparation n development strategy; for the choices to be m a d e i n the That the scientific results secured be used for technological innovations i countrys economic system ; That the improvement of traditionaltechnology be given greater encouragement ; That our technological choices be compatible with our actual conditions and potentialities; That technological training at a l l levels of education be reinforced; That everything be done to make Cameroonians increasingly qualified to use modern technology at the production stage; That our intellectual leaders, and particularly our civil servants, university staff and research workers, resolutely commit themselves to serving the rural production sector.


Considering that the shortage of competent scientific personnel is one of the major handicaps for the effective application of science and technology to development ; Considering that the lack of a research workers status has m a d e this situation more serious; Consideringthat the exodus of high-level scientific personnel to foreign countries or to other Cameroon administrations nullifies the anticipated results of the governments research training policy; Considering that the task of the research worker is of a specific nature; Recommends The preparation, as soon as possible, of a research workers status, offering improvements from the psychological, moral and material standpoints, and taking into account, not only diplomas, but also the following criteria for selection: experience, publications, technical skill, endurance and perseverance at work; The taking into account of the organizational and supervisory duties carried out by the research worker i n research or instruction; The working out of career prospects likely to attract the best key personnel; The establishment of permanent co-operation between ONAREST and the


The cultural policy of Cameroon today

University i n the selection of research workers, exchanges of scientific personnel, and the execution of programmes.


Considering that most of the work done by Cameroonians has consisted of isolated research on subjects more or less freely chosen; Considering that scientific research has been especially developed i n agronomics ; Considering that scientific and technological research, owing to its present and possible future impact on the countrys economic, social and cultural development, concerns a l l sectors of national life; Considering that development of the nations scientific potential calls for the moral and physical efforts of all persons of goodwill; Recommends That, while safeguarding the research workers freedom to choose his subject, i l l , as far as possible, f i t our procedure be such that the research theme w n accordance with the research into an individual or collective programme i priorities established by ONAREST; That ONAREST promote programmed co-operative research, particularly i n respect of applied research; That our countrys scientific and technological production be developed and encouraged i n every sphere; That the private sector participate more actively i n the nations scientific development movement, particularly as regards: promoting scientific research within each f i r m ;commissioning research from national laboratories; contributing to the financing of scientific and technicalresearch;applying the results of research conducted at the national level.

Considering the necessity of providing the methodological, technical and financial means and the manpower for scientific and technical promotion; Recommends That, as regards methodological means, associations and clubs for the advancement of science and technology be organized; That national prizes for meritorious work and a National Academy of Science be founded ; That, as regards technical means and within the framework of duly approved programmes, laboratories and a l l other items of equipment and data be placed at the disposal of O N A R E S T , the University, and those engaged i n individual or collective research; That, as regards financial means, adequate amounts, flexibly administered, be devoted to research for the accomplishment of its lofty mission; n science and technology among That everything be done to arouse interest i young people ;


The cultural policy of Cameroon today

That the general training of these young people be supplemented by activities i t h the realities of everyday life; henceforth in permanent contact w That teachers and research workers (outside their professional duties) be included as often as possible in circles of professional activity, which w i l l provide them with a source of technical and h u m a n enrichment and an additional means of participating in the development of the nation.

The National Council or Cultural Affairs, at

22 December 1974,

its first session

held from 18 to

be formulated only in terms of the real political, economic and social conditions of each country ; Considering that culture in a country under construction must have a civic and didactic content; Considering that, since independence, the awakening and resurrection of our culture, traumatized and long dominated, are factors making for individual and national liberation and promotion; Considering that the principle of pluriculturalism and bilingualism, inscribed in our Constitution, should constitute the foundation of our countrys cultural policy, based essentially on unity in diversity; Aware of the necessity for a cultural renewal, keynoted by the peaceful Revolution of 20 M a y 1972 and forming an integral part of our planned liberalism whose objectives are the liberation of the Cameroonian people and the recovery of their dignity and personality; Considering that this cultural renewal, in order to become a true political instrument in the service of the nation, must be consonant w i t h the ideals of the Cameroon National Union Party; Considering that culture and economic and social development are interdependent and complementary and must be directed against anything that slows up the development of knowledge; Considering that religions, whether based on sacred writings or on Nature have an undeniable influence on the everyday life and behaviour of the people at large ; Considering that Cameroonian artists and m e n of culture have hitherto worked without conviction as regards their contribution to the economic development of the nation; Considering that traditional and modern communication media play a paramount n the dissemination of culture, and that our national languages are the role i hallmark of our identity;

As regards cultural policy Considering that a cultural policy can


1. That the Cameroonian cultural and artistic movement be politically committed to the ideals defined by the Cameroon NationaI Union Party, so as to serve as
an instrument for forming and consolidating national consciousness and unity, and as a factor making for individual and national liberation and promotion. 2. That plurculturalism and bilinguism be respected as factors both enriching and determinant OC national unity.


T h e cultural policy of Cameroon today

3. That cultural policy and economic and social policy be brought into line i n
the five-yearplans, with a view to a radical mobilization of the people at large for more efficient economic development. 4. That leaders of religions, whether based on sacred writings or on Nature, l l fetichistic, superstitious or retrograde help believers to free themselves of a attitudes or ideas about natural forces,so that beliefs are not used as a pretext or an excuse for evading the responsibilities imposed by our countrys social and economic development. 5. That a systematic inventory be compiled of our cultural and artistic heritage both within Cameroon and abroad, and that adequate means be provided for this purpose. 6. That the term national languages be adopted to designate our so-called vernacular languages as opposed to the two official languages, and that these national languages be studied at our educational institutions, as well as the written literature i n those languages. 7. That an institutional framework for artists and writers be established. Requests the Government to 1. B e doubly vigilant i n regard to a l l modes of l i f e or aspects of culture resulting i n alienation. 2. Introduce traditional culture into school and university circles. 3. Organize cultural and artistic events as often as possible. 4 . Train special key personnel for cultural promotion. Appeals urgently to everyone, particularly individuals, groups, associations and l l sorts, to assist i n promoting mass culture. bodies of a

(b) As regards cultural activities

Considering the fresh impetus given to cultural activities

by the government, n building the Cameroon and the privileged position of culture and the arts i nation; Considering that m e n are both the agents and the beneficiaries of cultural activities, whatever their ecological, social or technological environment, at the national as well as the provincial level; Considering that the national movement for cultural and artistic promotion and development cannot be conducted efficiently unless i t i s supported by an appropriate infrastructure and unless the works and rights of artists are protected by the State; Taking into account the advantages accruing to Cameroon as a result of its favourable geographical position and the wealth and diversity of its traditions, which justify the growing interest taken by the Cameroonian public i n the various forms of culture and art; Considering that the countrys cultural and artistic development cannot be efficiently led and can have no justification unless artists are integrated i n the production circuit and their works considered as part and parcel of our national development ; Considering the leading role by culture i n international understanding and friendly relations between m e n and States; Encourages the government to persevere i n its efforts to renew and develop a genuine Can-eroonian culture so as to increase the latters contribution to national con4tructions and to the enrichment of the universal cultural heritage;


The cultural policy of Cameroon today

Recommends 1. The foundation of a National Institute of Culture and Art for training artists n a l l branches, and the necessary cultural key personnel, at a l l levels and i and for research on artistic matters. 2. T h e stepping up and systematization of adult education, in order to raise the cultural level of the people at large, so that they m a y be able to contribute to the diffusion of our cultural and artistic values-such education to be inculcated both at school and through national and provincial cultural and artistic as well as the mass communication media, particularly the radio, press and cinema. 3. The decentralization of cultural activities, so that all the provinces of the n the countrys cultural renewal. Republic m a y participate i 4 . The development of inter-provincial cultural exchanges. Recommends the promotion and recognition of the value of the various forms of art and culture (painting, sculpture, architecture, theatre, music, choreography, cinema, e t c . ) , particularly by: establishing art galleries ; introducing a form of architecture which is in harmony with the environment and reflects the esthetic taste and the aspirations of the Cameroonian community; creating a national theatre company and a national orchestra ; launching and developing the National Dance Company which has already been fori l l endeavm e d ; evolving a Cameroonian cinematographic industry that w our primarily to reflect our real national conditions and aspirations. Recommends that the Government take a l l necessary steps to encourage artists, particularly by: establishing a national directory in which every cultural i l l be entered; encouraging the creative spirit i n art and literature; work w n the general production circuit by promoting artists and placing them i according priority, other things being equal, to their works i n the construction and decoration of public and private buildings; the protection of artists rights by the State; creating special prizes ; awarding honorary distinctions. Recommends the increasing of contacts between Cameroonian and foreign artists, as well as cultural exchanges, not only with other continents but also, and especially, with African States.

General policy report of the President of the Republic to the second ordinary congress of the Cameroon National Union (UNC)
A t the second congress of the Cameroon National Union, the President of the Republic outlined the over-all policy of Cameroon. In regard to education and culture, the President m a d e the following statement: T h e work of reinforcing our transmitters and equipping the other provinces with broadcasting stations i s under way. Studies are also being conducted to magnetic-tape determine the conditions under which images, by television, am, recordings and artificial satellites, can be disseminated at minimum cost and n particular of technical respecting national independence, taking account i advances in telecommunications.


The cultural policy of Cameroon today

In the process of our countrys development, w e have always considered that the educational system i s one of the principal instruments for preparing n active life. Hence, efforts have always been made the individual to participate i t more effective. to adapt that system to our real national conditions and to make i F r o m 1969 to 1974, education i n our country m a d e great strides. Total n this sector, amounted to nearly 7,000 million francs during that investments, i h i s has enabled us, at the primary educational level, to attain a rate period. T of school attendance of over 70 per cent, one of the highest i n Africa. A t present, more than a million children are attending our primary schools. A special effort to encourage school attendance has been made in the less-favoured regions. Furthermore, to improve the quality of instruction, a twofold effort has been made to train new teachers and retrain the older ones, and to adapt curricula to our development needs, thanks to the use of appropriate equipment and prot to the grammes. And so our policy is to foster technical education and adjust i conditions of our development, thus providing the latter with more skilful and better trained manpower. T h e number of pupils rose from 17,400 i n 1970/71to 23,737 i n 1973/74, or an n two years. In 1972/73, over 1,000 teachers were instrucincrease of 36 per cent i ting i n approximately one hundred schools, as compared with 770 i n 1970/71. T h e policy of developing technical education, included in the third Fivei l l be strictly and realistically pursued; i n the coming years, technical Year Plan, w secondary schools w i l l be established at Bafussam, Buea, G a m a and Bertua, and those at Yaound and Duala will be greatly expanded. In addition,the training i l l be actively pursued at the Teacher Training College of technical instructors w n Yaound. annex in Duala and the Polytechnic College i A n important task has been entrusted to higher education i n our country: that of training highly qualified professors, research workers and key personnel. Thus, in the past four years, the number of students engaged in higher studies has risen from 2,480 in 1969/70 to 4,632 i n 1972/73 and to 5,533 i n 1973/74, which represents more than a twofold increase. The Cameroonization of the University teaching staff has been satisfactorily accomplished (257 professors, of w h o m 170 are Cameroonians). Since 1969, in addition to the traditional faculties, the following higher education establishments have been opened: the University Centre of Health Sciences (CUSS), the International College of Journalism (ESIJY), the Institute of Demographic Training (IFORD), the Polytechnic School, the Industrial Administration Institute and the Statistical Training Institute. Before the end of the Third Plan, the proposed College of Industrial and Business Management w i l l come into being at Duala. The University i s also the centre where the new culture of Cameroon is being n cementing national evolved. I have already spoken of the importance of culture i unity and in transforming mentalities;i n short, i n affirming thc national personality, one of whose characteristics i s pluricdturalism and bilingualism. As regards youth, the privileged position which w e recognize as its right n a l l explains the great attention w e devote to i t and the efforts being made i sectors to secure for young people the full development of their personality, a training which i s adapted to the needs of our economy, and a better future. n 1970/71, two civic and vocational training centres were constructed, Thus i two young pioneers villages completed, eleven rural centres built by young


The cultural policy of Cameroon today

people themselves, and seventeen cultural and community promotion zones established. At present,there are over a hundred youthcentres existing throughout the country, and the various youth movements comprise nearly 200,000 members. Aware of the need for its participation in national construction, our youth, since its seventh festival, has instituted a youth week, during which young people of a l l ages take part in various development projects. M a n y holiday camps have given hundreds of young people an opportunity to take part in practice in national construction. In this way, watering points, health centres, classrooms, culverts, secondary roads, etc., have been produced at a low cost. In v i e w of this w i l l to participate on the part of our youth, the government, after due study, devised an institutional framework for speeding up the training of young people and facilitating their inclusion in active life; I refer to the National Civic Service for Participation in Development which, as I have already said, has entered its experimentalphase, and in which w e have placed great hopes. To make medical services available to all Cameroonians, the government is sparing no effort, either setting up and equipping hospital units or training the necessary key personnel. In 1959, just before independence, the country had barely twelve hospitals, twenty-sevendispensaries and forty-onemedical centres. Since then, over 6,000million francs in investments have been devoted to public health, which is one of the governments major concerns, and that figure does not take into account the efforts devoted throughout the country to health education, or the work done by religious missions, or even the efforts of certain private individuals. But, over and above these problems of equipment, we must have enough control over the structure of our population to enable us to direct our development along the right lines. It is consequently becoming increasingly necessary to conduct a general population census. Therefore, before the end of 1975, our country, for the first time in its history, is going to undertake an exhaustive census of the Cameroonian population. It w i l l involve drawing up a complete inventory of our manpower resources ;determining the number of inhabitants per territorial subdivision; setting out the structure of our population by sex, age, profession and educational level ; and understanding migratory movements. To guarantee the total success of this nation-wide operation, every Cameroonian and every foreign resident must adopt an honest approach. The information to be furnished to the census takers must be strictly accurate. I appeal to everyones civic spirit and sense of responsibility. It is a national duty to answer without distorting the truth. The consequences of false information would be incalculable, and nothing could justify such an attitude on the part of a people whose maturity and civic spirit are unanimously recognized. Apart from the population census, I wish to emphasize the importance of the studies and surveys that w e are conducting with a view to mastering the instruments of our development. For we are at a decisive turning-point in our history; it is imperative that our initiatives be based less on probability than on mastery of the instruments of action. It is therefore essential to possess fundamental data on structures. T o this end, w e conducted last year our first agricultural census, covering a l l the primary production units throughout the country. Henceforth, it w i l l be possible to ascertain our resources in various agricultural e l l as the structure of our rural economy, whose impact on our products, as w l l . development is apparent to a


The cultural policy of Cameroon today

With the same end in view, we shall proceed, immediately after the population census, with an exhaustive inventory of our production and distribution system. i l l then be meticulously studied i n order to The industrial production sector w discover its actual and potential capacity for contributing to national production. T h i sw i l l also afford an opportunity to test the effectiveness of the instrument w e have forged for compiling fundamental statistics on the physical and financial structure of our industrial and commercial firms-the general industrial accountance plan. These fundamental statistics on the population, agriculture, industry, i l l enable us, I feel sure, to have handicrafts and trade, regularly updated, w a better knowledge of our economic and social development and, first and foremost, to work out our various five-year development plans on realistic bases. For in matters of development, the government has chosen planning as the means of promoting our economic, social and cultural progress. B y this choice, it intends to provide itself w i t h an appropriate instrument enabling the State to foresee, organize, co-ordinateand control a l l the activities contributing to the countrys development. If we succeed i n organizing ourselves in this manner and in taking over our o w n development, that is, in directing a l l the kinetic energy of the nation towards development, w e shall undoubtedly suceed, too, in attaining the immediate goal of our national revolution, namely the take-offo$ the nations economy. In m y address to young people on 10 February 1974,I said that our country, through its national revolution, is engaged in a threefold revolution: a political one, through which it is building an independent State, strong and efficient; an economic one, through the Green Revolution,whose purpose is to promote the n a balanced and just manner; and a cultural progress of every individual i renewal whose aim is to restore to the Cameroonian people the sense of their dignity and creative initiative, i.e. to make them fully the subject of their o w n history. In the final analysis, the point is, i n the present context, to pursue that necessary threefold revolution by applying the principles underlying it more and i t hav i e w to raising Cameroon to the rank of an authentic more rationally, w nation. Internally centred development meets this requirement. It calls for a constant output of energy and increasingly efficient organization of our activity. W h a t we must do is to become more and more completely masters of our destiny by systematic and conscious action aimed at changing Cameroonian society and to improve it day by day, and not to upset everything overnight, as w e are bid to do by certain Cameroonians or foreigners w h o cannot see, or do not wish to see, our realities, and w h o call our realism conservatism. t is not possible to do T o be realistic is not to be conservative.We believe that i everything immediately; that true progress does not necessarily imply a denial of the past and the disruption of traditions which, on the contrary, guarantee the strength of a nation; that action, to be effective, must take account of realities, i . e . what is possible and what is not, within a given historical context. W h a t s not slogans, the easier to swallow i n that they are devoid of counts for us i meaning, but results measured in terms of economic progress and social justice. Our policy is constantly to compare our goals with our daily actions, so that the latter can be improved continually. Reformism, w e shall hear! Yes, but revolutionary reformism, i n that, any revolution being the desire to change the

The cultural policy of Cameroon today

existing order of things, we intend to change it through successive reforms, in order to remain faithful to the profound ethic of our society, which is the ethic of solidarity and balance. It is in this spirit of continuity, which is at once revolution and the respect of values which have stood the test of time, that I bid you to address yourselves to the great tasks awaiting us in the coming years. I feel sure that the Cameroonian people, led by our great National Party, w i l l be able to s u m m o n up enough energy, determination and faith to accomplish those tasks with the same success that has crowned our efforts since the Garua Congress. If such be the case, the future is full of promise and our generations-particularly those w h o are the Founding Fathers of the Republic-will have the signal honour of being recorded in history as having been responsible for laying the unshakable foundations of an authentic Cameroonian nation, a nation w i t h a great destiny before it in Africa; in short, a nation worthy of our affection, i l l find devotion and sacrifices, deserving the fidelity of future generations w h o w i n our patriotism a source of communion and reasons for believing always in the noble calling of our beloved country.


Cameroonian artists and writers


M a n y foreign authors, and even m a n y authors of Cameroonian nationality, claim that before the 1950s there w a s no Cameroonian literature. For the belief is held that the great writers of Cameroon became k n o w n i n 1950, and t w o n a m e s are often mentioned, those of the novelists Ferdinand Oyona, author of U n e vie de boy, and Alexandre Beyidi, k n o w n as M o n g o Beti, w h o wrote Ezu boto (Cruel City). This late appearance of Cameroon i n African literature, writes Jacques R i a l , m a y be due to the fact that the country, from 1885 to the First World W a r , w a s a G e r m a n protectorate and w a s introduced to French culture long after Senegal and the other countries of the Gulf of Guinea.l B u t w a s Cameroonian literature not represented by authors writing i n languages other than French? W e venture to think that J. Rial has not examined the whole matter seriously, for there were authors writing n French. For example, Y o s h u a in Duala long before those w h o wrote i Dibundu wrote i n 1896, i n Duala, a poetical w o r k entitled Besesedi bu n Duala, Yehowa (The Praises of Jehovah) ; Martin Itondo published i in 1933, N k e t i nu M o n g o (Arrows and Spears) and, i n 1954, Myenge na Yesuya (Psalms and Esafe); and Munz Dibundu, Martin Itondo a n d Paul Helmlinger published a work i n Duala entitled Nimele bolo (Push the Pirogue). As early as 1848, a history book w a s published in Duala: Kulats

1. J. Rial, Littrature Camerounaise de Langue Franaise, p. 12, Lausanne, Payot, 1972.


Cameroonian artists and writers

Mateo (The Gospel according to St Matthew); then, i n 1862, the whole of the N e w Testament i n Duala, or twenty-seven different books; and, i n 1872, Betiledi Kalati ya Loba M b u a koan (The O l d Testament), or thirty-nine books. In short, Cameroon had a literature i n Duala as n Bassaa, Bulu, Bali and E w o n d o , languages early as 1848, and later i n all) w a s into which the whole or part of the Bible (sixty-six books i translated and read by nationals of the country. In the field of history, the w o r k by P. Scheibiler entitled Myango m a Islam na ma Reformation o Mbenge (History of Islam and of the n Europe (1926)) and that by Itondo, N k e t i na Mongo Reformation i (Arrows and Spears) (1933) are known. As early as 1903, the periodical Elolombe ya Kamerun (Sun of C a m e roon) w a s issued and, i n 1928, the monthly, Dikalo (The Message), began n Duala. In 1930, M u m e Etia published Ikoli a to c o m e out regularly i b u h iwo na bulu bo (The Arabian Nights). In 1938, M. Itondo published Kyango m a Mandesi B e l l ,a biography. These few examples s h o w that the literature of Cameroon w a s first n Duala. There were texts i n Duala and G e r m a n for learning written i the language, and about customs, morals and aspects of cultural life. In 1892, T. Christaller published i n Basle a Handbuch der Duala-Sprache (Duala Textbook). In 1904, H. Seidel published i n Heidelberg DualaSprache in Kamerun. Systematisches Worterverzeichnisund Einfhrung in die Grammatik (The Duala Language i n Cameroon. Systematic Vocabulary and Introduction to the Grammar). In 1860, A. Saker h a d published a work entitled Elements of Grammar and Vocabulary, Cameroon River. In 1934, M. Itondo and P. Helmlinger published i n Duala the w o r k entitled Minia na bedmo basu (Our Proverbs and Customs-a Reader). A newspaper containing political articles and published in Duala began appearing i n Paris i n 1932. A weekly entitled Jumwl la Bana ba K a m e n the city of Duala i n 1934; a n illustrated almarun began publication i n Buea i n 1936. nach, entitled Elang M b u (Annals), w a s published i Cameroonian literature w a s therefore first written i n Duala, then i n Duala /German, Duala /English, and later i n Bulu, Bali, Bassaa, B a m u n , Fulfulde and Tunen. In Fulfulde, w e have several texts, such as those relating the history of the peoples of the A d a m a w a plateau: Habarou lamorde Tchamba (History of the Lamidat of T c h a m b a ) ; Habarou lamorde Tibati (History of the Lamidat of Tibati); N o Yola en windiri habarou Tibati (History of Tibati seen by Yola).l In Tunen, w e have t w o initial books, one of which w a s due to the

1. M.Eldridge, Lhistoire des Lamidats Foulb de Tchamba e t Tibati, Abbia (Yaound), NO. 6, 1965, p. 15-158.


Cameroonian artists and writers

work of the Reverend Wilhelm Koelle Sigidmung, published i n 1852 i n Freetown (Sierra Leone). It i s a T u n e n vocabulary communicated by a group of seven B a n e n residing i n the s m a l l t o w n of Regent (Sierra Leone). T h e other work i s by Hoesemann, a n a r m y doctor, w h o took part i n the January 1901 expedition to the B a n e n country. T h e author compiled a T u n e n vocabulary dealing with techniques and the necessities of everyday life. a Langue Tunen (Paris, 1967) M r s I. Dugast published a Lexique de l and a Grammaire de Tunen (Paris, 1971).


Before mentioning a few authors of Cameroonian nationality w h o write i n foreign languages such as French and English, w e should perhaps n foreign languages can properly be regarded consider whether literature i as Cameroonian or African literature. n K a m p a l a (Uganda) i n June 1962, A t a n important meeting held i the question of determining what constitutes African literature w a s raised. The majority opinion a m o n g the m e m b e r s of the conference, says Professor B.Fonlon, was that a writer has a n absolute right to approach his work without having to submit to any sort of conditions, concerning either ideas or form. T h e only requirement m a d e of h i m is that bis w o r k be honest and frank. However, once this principle of freedom has been established, w e are still justified i n asking what i t is that t the personality of the makes a work African (or Cameroonian). Is i author, or the t h e m e dealt with, since language, as the original criterion, has already been mentioned? n his opinion, Christopher Okigbo, the Nigerian poet, has stated that i i n order to be African, a work must be deeply rooted i n African soil, be born of a truly African experience, and follow the r h y t h m of African emotivity. Professor Fonlon continues: Then,in order to convince m y audience even more, I recalled an experience of mine one evening in Paris. I was attending an artistic evening organized by Unesco, i t h calypso when there appeared on the stage a group of dancers and musicians w tomtoms and dressed in W e s t Indian costumes. A m o n g the musicians was a guitarist whose playing struck me right away. It was not that the tune he was playing was in the least familiar to me, but as I went on listening to him, I became increasingly sure of one thing: the musician was a Cameroonian. Once the performance was over, I learned that m y guitarist was indeed no W e s t Indian, being a native of Duala. All this is to point out that Negro writers have adopted the English or French language as our musician had the guitar, and that if they have truly sprung from


Cameroonian artists and writers

the soil of Africa, their mode of expression can but reflect the African spirit, no matter what the t h e m e chosen. 1

T h u s the fact must be recognized that the authors of Cameroon w h o n French or English are indeed Cameroonian writers. For, have written i i n the very words of Fonlon: These young m e n and w o m e n w h o are endeavouring to e n d o w Africa with a n e w literature, fashioned out of its o w n substance, modelled in accordance with its o w n image, deserve n a remarkable w a y to our praise, T h e y are destined to contribute i restoring the intrinsic personality of the Negro.2

Cameroonian authors writing in French

Cameroonian literature of the beginning of the 1950s first consisted of scientific studies and research done by students a n d trainees of our country i n France w h o wrote i n their bulletin entitled Lxtudiant du Kamerun, the information and cultural organ of the Cameroon National Union of Students. It covered all the countrys problems and published m a n y essays i n prose, and poems. Besides Lxtudiant du Kamerun, the newspaper Kas0 w a s published i n Paris, and students and intellectuals studying i n France contributed articles to i t . These t w o press publications spoke the language of truth a n d of the heart, of reason and of science, while the authors of articles dealt w i t h matters of politics and economics, of literature and the phin France are accustomed losophy of action. T h e Cameroonians residing i to forming a group so as to assert themselves as a national community. T h e y form reading clubs, associations of sportsmen, actors, essayists, n Llhdiant du K a m e poets and prose writers. T h e articles published i n Kas0 were m u c h read, both i n France and Cameroon, from run and i 1947 onwards. T h e y were of various types. For example, political articles appeared both i n the bulletin Ltudiant du Kamerun and i n Kaso, of which the editors were Michel D o o Kingu, Franois Sengat-Kuo and Timothe P e n d a Mpanjo. Articles on law and history were written by Benjamin Matip ; short stories or serials were supplied by fiction-writers such as Ferdinand O y o n o and Alexandre Beyidi. Michel D o o Kingu is a great artist, a very good guitarist, a n d director of the first national c o m p a n y of Cameroon, which m e t with great n France. H e has succeeded with remarkable s k i l li n drawing success i on the wealth of our folklore. Sengat-Kuo, former chief executive of the National Union of C a m e roon Students i n France, was one of the pillars of the journal Prsence

1. B. Fonlon, AfricanWriters Meet i n Uganda, Abbia (Yaound), No. 1, 1963, p. 39-70. 2. B. Fonlon, Les crivains N o i r s Kampala, Abbia (Yaound), No. 6, 1965, p. 70.


Cameroonian artists and writers

Africaine, of which he w a s a m e m b e r of the editorial staff. M a n y of the leading articles i n that journal, as well as i n Lgtudiant du Kamerun and i n Kaso, were written by him. Under the pseudonym of Francesco Ndintsouna, he published Les Fleurs de Laterite. Benjamin Matip published Afrique, Nous TIgnorons, his &st story, and then LAfrique aux Africains or L e Manifeste Ngro-africain, a thought-provoking study of the current problems of the African-Negro world. In 1958, he took part i n the first congress of Negro writers and n the Tashkent Conference, where he secured artists at the Sorbonne and i the adoption of the famous Appel aux ecrivains du Monde Entier launched by Afro-Asian intellectuals. H e published a booklet on the history of Africa entitled Heurs and Malheurs des Rapports Europe-Afrique n Lhistoire Moderne du 15 au 18 Sicle. T h e originality of the Noire i n the fact that it is the first African version of that history, study lies i on which, u p till then, Europe alone had expressed its views; it is a book of great interest to politicians and to all those wishing to k n o w the history of Africa. In Afrique, Nous TIgnorons, Matip stigmatizes the exploitation of the peasants by European traders, whereas i n his short n A Lo B e l l e &toile, he confines himself to the Africa stories, published i of m y t h s and legends. H i s Afrique M a Patrie w a s published by the n Y a o u n d during the years 1960-62 and, editions du Peuple Africain i finally, he wrote a play, Le Jugement Suprme, a criticism of contempon Cameroon, with particular reference to the mastery by rary life i Cameroonians of the contributions of foreign cultures, the attitudes born of contacts between civilizations, the lack of understanding and the n the difficulties encountered by a n intellectual wishing to intervene i daily struggle against sickness, ignorance, beliefs and the lack of education. M o r e than any other writer of his generation, Matip managed to set forth i n his play the problem of the cultural personality of Africa i n general and of Cameroon i n particular. W h o l e passages of his work n his mother tongue, Basaa, whenever he is trying to bring are written i out a n essential aspect of the spirit of his people. Cameroonians contribute to several periodicals: Lztudiant Noir, information bulletin of the Federation of African Negro Students i n France, a n association consisting of all Negro students following courses in France. A strong intellectual movement, whose n every sphere-political, chief d e m a n d is the independance of Africa i o i r group. economic and cultural-has been started by the &tudiant N Lgtudant Africain Protestant, a journal providing economic, political and religious information and instruction and issued by the Christian W h e n the journal Association of Protestant African Students (ACEAP). w a s founded, Marie-ClairN g o Matip, w h o h a d just been awarded aliterary prize for her booklet, Ngonda, m u c h appreciated by young people, ww


Cameroonian artists and writers

appointed to edit it. She i s a former president of the National Union of Cameroon Students (UNEK). T h e journal m a d e it possible for a great many Protestant intellectuals to write articles on a variety of subjects. In addition to theses for the degree in theology, or for doctorates i n science, arts and philosophy, ACEAP published essays on philosophy and theological ethics. O n e of the works on Nyambeist ideas, Clairires Mtaphysiques Africaines, by J. C. Bahoken (Paris, editions Prsence Africaine, 1961) laid the foundations of a n e w philosophical approach to Africas problems and created the m o v e m e n t of Nyambeist thinking. In 1968, J. C. Bahoken wrote a philosophical work entitled L a Notion de lOrdre dans le Systme de Pende Africain. T h e aim behind the notion of order is to found a theory of knowledge i n the philosophical sense, but also a theory of knowledge of real facts explainable by actual experience. Bahoken has thus indirectly paved the w a y for African epistemology. H e has been President of A C E A P , Editor of the journal Parole (which replaced Llhdiant Protestant Africain) and Editor of the journal AfriqueUnivers, of the International Centre for African Research. E. Njoh-MoueUe w a s a m e m b e r of the editorial staff of the former Llftudiant Protestant Africain and contributed several articles to i t; he wrote a philosophy thesis entitled LIde de Profondeur chez Bergson and has written a booklet on African philosophy entitled Jalons.

T a m - T a m ,the information and cultural bulletin of the Association of n France, edited by a go-ahead, discerning Catholic African Students i team. L e T a m - T a m has published m a n y articles on education, economics, philosophy and religious creeds. Several writers emerged from the T a m - T a m group, including T.Melone, w h o has published, inter alia,De la Ngritude dans la Littrature Ngro-Africaine (aditions Prsence Africaine, 1962), and Mongo B e t i un Homme un Destin (Paris, 1972). H e is also the author of many articles published i n Prsence Africaine and i n Abbia. H e is a full professor, and w a s head of the Department of Comparative African Literature at the Faculty of Arts and Humanistic Studies of the University of Yaound. In collaboration with a t e a m of Cameroonian teachers and writers, Melone has just published a w o r k entitled Melange, with a preface by Roger Caillois, a m e m b e r of the French Academy. G. N g a n g o has published a n u m b e r of articles on economics i n Prsence Africaine and participated i n editing the collective w o r k entitled Personnalit Africaine et Catholicisme (Paris, Gditions Prsence Africaine, 1968). A doctor of economics, N g a n g o also has a n agrgation i n economics and is D e a n of the Faculty of L a w and Economics of the University of Yaound. F. Oyone, a novelist, is the author of Une Vie de Boy (1956) a n d of L e Vieux N g r e et la Mdaille (1956), t w o works which immediately

L e


Cameroonian artista and writers

i m and earned him a world-wide reputation. H e has also launched h written Chemin dEurope. Alexandre Beyidi, k n o w n as M o n g o Beti, has published several novels of outstanding quality: V i l l e Cruelle (Prsence Africaine, 1956), Mission Termine, Pauvre Christ de B o m b a and L e Roi Miracul.


(bilingual), a national periodical which leads a literary crusade

i n Cameroon. T h e Editor-in-Chiefof Abbia is Dr Bernard Fonlon, and

its editorial staff consists of Messrs Bryant Ako, J. C. Bahoken, B. Bilongo, P. Biya, M. Diwouta-Loth, R. Diziain, M. Doo-Kingu, G.Ebanga, E.E p a n y a Yondo, and P.F o k a m . Contributors to this journal include, a m o n g others, S. Mairie, Moutongo Black, J. C. Ngally, J. N g o Mai, I. Njikam, L. Z. Nkwetta, T. N y e m p , A. Tefak, M. T o w a , N.Atangana, J. A. Kisob, B.Matip, Mbassi-Manga, F.L o u n g and Eldridge M o h a m a d o u . In the first issue, Dr Fonlon reviewed the Negro authors of K a m p a l a w h o write i n English. In the second issue, N. Atangana presented a study on African cultures and development, explaining that to speak of culture to the people presupposes the existence of culture i n a practical and living form. In the s a m e issue, C. N g a n d e wrote about Cameroonian poetry, and B. Matip presented his play entitled L e Jugement Suprme. Abbia is a serious publication, which deals w i t h cultural policy courageously a n d forcefully and has influenced the writers of the first decade of Cameroons independence.

Cameroun Littraire, the mouthpiece of the National Association of Cameroonian Poets and Writers (APEC), edited by Philombe R. E p a g n a n Cameroon Yondo. It published a novel depicting the colonial situation i entitled Kamerun! Kamerun! (ditions Prsence Africaine, Paris, 1960). Its poetry i s militant and nationalistic. J. P. Nyunai wrote for i t Salut l a Nation Camerounaise, L a Nuit de M a Vie, Chansons pour Ngo-Lima, Pigments Sang. Other contributors to this periodical are C. Ngande, J. L. Dongmo, A. Okala, E. Alima and P. Kayo, whose works are well k n o w n to the national public. Independently of any journal, mention should also be m a d e of a distinguished writer, F.Bebey, composer, guitarist and writer, author of L e F i l s ddgatha Moudio (ditions Cl, 1967), Embarras et Compagnie (ditions Cl, 1968), L a Poupe Ashanti (1972) and Trois P e t i t s Cireurs (1972). G.O y o n o M b i a became famous with his play, Trois Prtendants ...u n s Jusqu mari (ditions Cl, 1964). Another play by the s a m e author i Nouvel Avis. R. G.M e d o u M v o m o wrote Afrika baa,a n autobiographical story. P. O m b e d e (known as Philombe) is the author of Lettres de m u Cambuse, Le Bouc Sanguinaire de Papa Mboya, Sola m a Chrie, Un Sorcier Blanc Zangali. Ikelle-Matiba w o n f a m e with his work, Cette Afrique-lh (ditions Prsence Africaine, 1963).


Cameroonian artists and writers

M. Sop N k a m g a n g is the author of L e s Contes et Lgendes de Bamilk (3 volumes, 1970), Trois Symboles et Chants dUnit (Imprimerie St Paul), and L a Femme Prodigue, a play (ditions Cl, 1968).
Cameroonian authors writing in English

It w i l l be recalled that English w a s taught i n all the schools of the former State of Western Cameroon, at the s a m e time as Duala and B a l i . The entire population of that region speaks English, or rather pidgin, the popular English of Cameroon. Cultural journals help to acquaint us with a few n a m e s of authors writing i n English: the journal Ozila, a bilingual publication, is the tribune of the young intellectuals of the University of Y a o u n d and the journal Abbia, already mentioned, is also bilingual and has a wide circle of readers. In the first issue of Abbia, J. A. Kisob wrote a n article on pidgin English and mentioned works entitled Kurzes Handbuch fr NegerEnglisch an der W e s t Kste Afrikas unter besonderer Bercksichtigung von Kamerun, by G. V. H a g e n (Berlin, Dungeldey & Werres, 1913), Anonymous, a small g r a m m a r of pidgin, followed by a French-pidgin dictionary (Mission Catholique, 1945), and Catchisme en FranaisPidgin (1939). In its second issue, Abbia published Cameroon Poetry, by C. Ngande, I A m Vindicated, by S. Maimo, and i n its fifth issue, Cameroon: a Marriage of Three Cultures, by F. Mbassi Manga.

perusal of texts and books by Cameroonian authors reveals several essential facts. n culture between First of all, there i s a constant relationship i literary expression and political action. Through oral or written literature, use is m a d e of a certain language that k n o w s h o w to handle words, to m a k e t h e m magic and persuasive. In their writings, the authors partin exchanges of ideas and i n great debates. A book carries greater cipate i or lesser weight, according to the authors mastery of the subject and the energy with which he defends the essential aspects of the truth. It is militant literature. n Second, i t is apparent that the emergence of a young literature i Cameroon w a s due solely to the trials imposed by the political circumstances of the time. In the nineteenth century, European colonial policy imposed a culture whose literature served its interests and aimed at the cultural assimilation and alienation of the African personality. T h e Cameroonian authors writing before the 1960s waged a ruthless battle against cultural and political colonialism and for the affirmation of


Cameroonian artists and writers

their identity, both cultural a n d political. Their works were combative i n every field-ethical and religious, cultural and economic, linguistic and historical or poetical. n Duala Mention has already been m a d e of the weekly published i i n 1934 under the title Jumele l a bana bu Kamerun (The Awakening of the Children of Cameroon), and of Kaso, the bulletin of the Cameroonian n France, edited by Sengat-Kuo, a great poet and a n experistudents i enced politician. H e wrote Fleurs de Latrite (1959), depicting the colonial period, and of Heures Rouges, whose title alone is as good as a whole programme of cultural policy. His cousin, Elolongue E p a n y a - Y o n d o published, on the eve of independence, Kamerun! Kamerun!, a real battle plan for cultural liberation, written i n the form of p o e m s i n which his ardent nationalism a n d anxiety to affirm the national cultural personality break through here and there. T h e n c o m e scientific works and studies which are the backbone of n Cameroonian literature of world-wide significance. T h o m a s Melone, i 1962, published his booklet, De la Ngritude dans la Littrature NgroAfricaine, and devoted a large part of his research to the novel prior to 1960; he wrote t w o State doctorate theses on t w o novelists, Mongo Beti and C. Achebe. T h o m a s Melone w a s the h s t defender of national cultural policy both within and without Cameroon. H e writes i n French n English with equal mastery, which gives h i s w o r k a n international and i dimension, and his eloquence has earned him a world-wide reputation. E. Njoh-MoueUe, of w h o m w e have spoken above, advocates a life of action. In his work, De l a Mdiocrit h lExcellence (1971), he tackles the problem of development. H e has also written Jalons (1971), a work i n which he seeks to define the African mentality, t w o essays entitled L a Russite et Zechec and Rjexion sur l a Sagesse, and articles, particularly L a Tentation de l a Facilit (Abbia,No. 25), Littrature et Dveloppement and L Universit et l a Personnalit Africaine. Let us again mention the n a m e of J. C. Bahoken and his philosophy thesis on L a Notion de lOrdre dans le Systme de Pense Africain. A t the d a w n of independence, our national authors, freed from foreign occupation, devoted themselves to the quest for national identity and to n matters of culture through clubs and associations educating the public i which they founded. Thus c a m e into being the Association of Cameroonian Poets and Writers, whose leader is Philippe-Louis O m b e d e ( k n o w n as Philombe), and the Cameroon Federation of Y o u t h Associations of Arts and Letters, headed by Charles-Henry Bebbe, former Secretary-General of the National Commission for Unesco. This organization comprises n urban cultural groups and m o v e m e n t s working a m o n g the people i and rural districts alike and thus forming a nucleus of leaders for the n the African sense of the term. execution of a democratic cultural policy i Before 1960, the failure of the cultural assimilation policy applied by the colonial administration had resulted i n a spate of novels, denounc-


Cameroonian artists and writers

ing the misdeeds of colonization, which frustrated the colonized,

exploited t h e m and alienated t h e m spiritually, economically and morally. W i t h the advent of independence, zero year, the form of the struggle changed, though the policy of cultural assimilation by the W e s t did not let up. For this is a n age of cultural conventions and agreements which, in a subtle way, place even stronger fetters u p o n the soul of Africa. A l l institutions-constitutions, organizations and forms of cultural manifestation-are copied from the West. Cultural policy requires willy-nilly the technical advice of the West. And so French and English are used as official languages and therefore as the languages of culture and of the definition of cultural policy. Cultural neo-colonialism, armed with n e w weapons, has replaced the colonial administration. Writers continue to denounce and fight against this policy of cultural assimilation.

Whereas i n America or Europe jazz a n d pop music are the fashion, following on from the Negro spirituals which are cultural productions of n Africa, a n d particularly the African emigrants, there w a s a return i i n Cameroon, to genuine musical sources. T h e resolve of the Cameroon Government and of the entire population is clear: to give strong impdsion to national musical works. First, with the independence of the Christian churches of Cameroon, music took on a n e w lease of life. Before 1960, the Protestant parishes n their mother tongues to European music, of the missions sang h y m n s i save i n the case of the Cameroon Church of the Reverend Lotin Same, a great composer, a poet and a m a n of extraordinary religious eloquence. T h e Mwemba ma Bana bEkombo a Kamerun (the Native Baptist Church) was, indeed, the first institution to rehabilitate the religious and cultural personality of Cameroon. Its hymnological policy n o w prevails both n Duala, Bamileke, Bulu and Basaa a n d at a m o n g the choirs singing i the masses conducted by Father N g o u m o u or by Father Endne Mbedi. Second, there has been a flourishing of folk music, which enables n their mother tongues. T h e radio, records a n d social groups to sing i magnetic tapes contribute effectively to the realization of this aspect of cultural policy. T h e list of composers and singers would be too long to include here, but the following, w h o are both singers and composers, deserve special mention: Francis Bebey, M a n u Dibango, Lotin Eboa, Bikoko, Tala, Marie Nzie. W i t h national independence c a m e a n outburst of Cameroonian popular songs, seeking to a 5 r m the nations identity and working for a national cultural unity which preserves the diversity of the sources. O u r national anthem today is the former Cameroonian rallying song of the young choir of the Fulassi Teacher-Training School, the words


Cameroonian artists and writers

n Duala and Bulu, but there is another patriotic song composed being i by N d u m a a B e b e (who died i n 1950) i n m e m o r y of the martyrdom of Duala Manga. H e called i t T e t Ekombo (Father of the Country). T h e following are its first verses:

Father of our country Oh! Lord of our country For Thee our tears Our mourning! our lamentations! You, friends, know m y thoughts O n all Cameroonians Stand fast, do not weaken.. . Implore Gods help Whoever acts as Judas, his end shall be that of Judas Refrain Father of our country Oh! Lord of our country For Thee our tears Our mourning! our lamentations! Father of our country of our country For Thee our tears Our mourning! our lamentations! Long journey alone! O brave Ngoso, be thy own company! Let u s bear the tidings to our ancestors Of h o w it came to pass! Let us cite Mbongo before the judgement seat of the Most High n the division There is transgression i of property The living and the dead are persecuted Their goods are seized with violence As I testified, thou art m y witness, Oh Lord, it all truly happened From time immemorial, the evidence of two persons has been trustworthy

Tet E k o m b o Y B ! Sango E k o m b o D i meya W a O! Jalb W a Binyo m a k o m lo bi mongl m a m M a n na bana ba Kamerun nys Emb t, nde le si bobis.. . Akwan p Loba Jongwan Tonja nu timbis momn K a Yuda; su lao ja b p ka la Y u d a Timbisl Tet E k o m b o Y b ! Sango Ekombo! D i meya W a O! Jalb W a

Tet E k o m b o Y B ! Sango E k o m b o

Oh! Lord

D i meya W a ! O! Jalb W a
Bodu B w a b a nesodisodi! A Ngoso ya, to dil mba! D i langueye B a m b a m b myango N nika nde e timbine b! D i somon Mbongo o mika na Yahwe! Dongo abino di bulabhl Bawenya na bawedi ba ni tusab Masango m a b u m a dumbab Ne t Kwala, o bawl ... N ate ye nde na mne.. . Natena k w a n m b o n a baba e dubab


T e t Ekombo

YB! Sango Ekombo! D i meya W a ! O Jalb W a ! O siban E k o m b o ango na boti


Refrain Father of our country Oh! Lord of our country For Thee our tears Our mourning! our lamentations! Thou w h o gladly died for Thy country

Cameroonian artists and writers

W a m n o tno p na dikoti!

P o ango nya ngum son nin,

Aba! nga nja so nu mapond m o T o Ekomb e si masawea Sango to m u n a buka njan Misima m a o m i pepi nde bn bo bato

M b a k o a Y a h w e o buse n:

Giving Thyself as its ransom Behold! Thy heros sword, Alas! w h o besides Thee feels able to wield it? The country does not pay The father and the son more than the foreigner (The foreigner earns more than the father and the son, natives of the country) Its fortunes are for the foreigners Let the sentence come from Jehovah (the Most High) May a l l these afflictions w e suffer Become the blessings of our children.l

Yin ndeng di makusano I timbe nde misima m a bana basu.

These words denounce the manifold transgressionswhich the Cameroonians suffered from the time of the arrival of M b o n g o i n Africa, a n d they sustained the patriotic faith of those who sang t h e m on each anniversary of the Heros death. They also herald the advent of independence, the i l l flourish. era of improved conditions w h e n national culture w W e might further mention Kinshasa, O bia by Francis B e b e y and Idiba i busi bwan, which are contemporary songs, to be sure, but which evoke the grievous history of our Africa that is gradually freeing itself from cultural colonization.

Painting and sculpture

The arts practised in Cameroon are intended for family or c o m m u n i t y use and are essentially functional and economical. n the first place serve the extended c o m Painted or graven objects i munity, which m a y comprise several households. In addition, plant extracts, macerated leaves, clay, tree-sap, a n d crushed barks are used to decorate the b o d y or to treat ornamental or ritual objects. Depending on the ecological zone, painters use straw, rasa, or fabrics of cotton or fibres. In the C h a d basin, the engravings a n d paintings to be found on walls, stones or w o o d represent w i l d animals such as lions, n combination buffaloes, rams, elephants, panthers, ostriches, giraffes, i with solar symbols. Fish, toads, monitors a n d tortoises are often taken, too, as motives for engraving.

1. J. C. Bahoken, Les Rapports des Missions Chrtiennes avec lAdministrationau Cameroun, de 1841 N o s Jours, p. 102-3, Paris, 1960.


Cameroonian artists an writers

On the A d a m a w a plateau, one finds gourds worked with red-hot iron by Fulani w o m e n , w h o compose simple designs and ingenious arabesques. Pretty painted cotton fabrics are beginning to be massproduced. Formerly, indigo w a s used to dye fabrics. In B a m u m country, engravers w o r k i n wood, iron, copper and bronze. Attractive table-cloths and decorative lengths of material are painted i n primary colours: red ochre, golden yellow, indigo or sky-blue. Drawings represent historical personages such as the M f o n B a m u m , with his dynastic symbols: the two-headed serpent, the trap-door spider (ngme),the double bell (munjemndu) and the talking t o m t o m (ben). Hunting, peasant life, court, war, or trading scenes are characteristic of the painting and sculpture of the B a m u m country. Door lintels, sculptured wooden beds, magnificent thrones for the Mjons and the nganjis, Chiefs headdresses and terracotta pipes illustrate the B a m u m style. In B a m u m country, entire families w o r k at w o o d carving, painting cotton and weaving n gold, raffia, from which they m a k e bags or table-cloths. Smiths w o r k i copper, silver and bronze, fashioning all sorts of feminine adornments. In Bamileke country, almost the s a m e style obtains. Here are found paintings on cotton fabrics, raffia bags, chairs for chiefs, door-jambs decorated with carvings, reed baskets and palm-leaf mats. T h e artists d r a w their colours from plants, the soil, or resin. Gourds are covered w i t h rows of multi-coloured beads. In the forest zone, painters working on canvas are found. Y o u n g people w h o have attended school d o water-colours, the others d o oil paintings. T h e pictures represent landscapes, sunsets, river-side villages, w i l d and domestic animals. S o m e portrait-painters also work on canvas. n ebony carve fine-featured heads of w o m e n , m e n or Sculptors working i children, whereas the figures i n the domestic pictures of the B a m u m n series Bamileke region have stylized features. Here, w o r k is not done i based on a standard model; the artists hand is guided by his creative imagination. On the coast and i n the south-central part of the country, carved chairs, pirogues and walking-sticks are produced, and the bark of trees is worked. Since the penetration of education into these regions, young painters have been putting their talents to profitable use and c o m m e r cializing their art. As regards sculpture, the production of the western regions is at present superior i n quantity and quality to that of the eastern, southern and coastal zones. There are t w o reasons for this: first, the presence of n the north, Christianity i n the south and on imported religions (Islam i the coast) and the very advanced Westernization of almost a l l of southern Cameroon dried up the African inspiration of the great traditional art of masks and statuary; second, the peoples of southern, northern and eastern Cameroon have a greater leaning towards music and dancing than towards the plastic arts.

Cameroonian artists and writers

A t the first Festival of Negro Arts held at D a k a r i n 1966, Cameroon exhibited the following items from the western a n d eastern regions: F o u m b a n : 14 items (pipes, sabres, masks, drums, bells, fine furniture, beds, and drawings by Ibrahim Njoya); Baleng: a beaded throne with figures forming a back; Bahouang: 40 items, including a polychrome throne, a chair, 2 masks; B a n d o u m : 10 items, including 2 hoods and 4 beaded gourds, a goblet and a n ivory hunting-horn; Dschang: the m a s k of a Foreke chief; M u s e u m of B a m u m Arts and Traditions: a large w o o d e a m a s k a n d 2 carved panels depicting hunting episodes or the markets of F o u m b a n . n the Mfon Abumba Bafut: 8 items, including a bed and stool carved i period (before 1895); a beaded buffalo of the Nare Society; portrait masks representing the Mfon Tchoko and his wife, the present Fon or father, A b u m a ; Mankon: a m a s k and a beaded m a s k crest, representing the leopard of the royal m a s k of the N k u m g a n Society; Bamui: a m a s k with mens heads and 3 ivory drinking horns; Bafreng: an elephant m a s k and a studded stool; n addition to 3 carved drums, a chair and a beaded mask, the Bansoa: i Bamileke portrait of Djuko, the first wife of the Fon M e m e . In the B a m u m - B a m i l e k e region, objects belonging to the cultural and ritual heritage abound, precisely because neither the imported religions (Islam, Christianity) nor Westernization have wrought the s a m e havoc n the rest of the country. as i In the coastal area, around Duala, there is very little artistic production. T h e modern sculpture of the south has been merged with the handicraft products of the north and west. However, the portrait of Chief C. Atangana is to be found there; his statue in reinforced concrete, by the sculptor C. Mbarga, is at present on s h o w at the National Tourist Office. n his doctors thesis entitled L a Sagesse du Masque Father Mveng, i Ngre, brings out the main lines of African thought underlying this art, dominated by the figuration of the Animal-Man-Spirit, a deified or canonised ancestor: (a) the universal material (beads, shells, feathers) becomes the symbol of wealth, of soil or conjugal fertility, of the winged spirit; (b) the animal of the mask (reptile, bird or quadruped) i s sacredhe is the guardian spirit of the group, its e m b l e m and blazon; (c) the m a n - w o m a n is at the centre of this philosophy, dominated by the h u m a n being, whose ultimate purpose is to perpetuate the life of the group through conjugal fertility and economic gain (which partly explains Polyg a m y T h e divine spirit (never represented otherwise than by cosmic oymbols on drums, thrones, masks or statues of ancestors) dispenses



Cameroonian artieta and writers

life to the people through the intermediary of their chief, w h o is at once father, king and judge in the communities w i t h a strictly hierarchical structure, whereas with the Duala, Basaa, B a n e and Beti, the ancestoru l f i l l s the s a m e socio-religious function, taking the other group chief f chiefs of the s a m e stock into consideration. Thus, all Cameroonian art, sculpture and painting, whether i t be of B a m u m and Bamileke royal origin, of southern Bantu (Beti, Bane) democratic origin, or even of quasi-theocratic origin (Lamibe of the north), i s inspired by a socio-religious mystique alien to Western aesthetics.

Cameroonian handicrafts are as plentiful as they are varied. T h e objects m a d e of leather or cotton, the multi-coloured fabrics of the splendid martial cavalry of the Fulbe, the magnificently decorated vases a n d n the south by wooden vases, clay jars bowls of the north are matched i (with hieroglyphic designs or parallel zigzags), rattan baskets, ebony walking-sticks, cross-bows, and statuettes of m e n and w o m e n . T h e south n the set of drawings for the has a very refined stylistic art to be found i g a m e of Abbia. Objects m a d e w i t h the cotyledons of a w i l d fruit bear symbols of animals, plants or metals having a special meaning related to the philosophy and mythology of Africa. For example, the first ogival figure symbolizes reproduction; the ogival figures t w o and three evoke the vegetable kingdom, the forests which abound i n southern Cameroon ;the figure four represents the m a n of 3 , or the genealogical historian, and so forth. n the form of quite simple patterns Plants inspire the decoration, i such as palms, ferns a n d banana leaves. Great art lies i n stylization, n retaining only the essential line of a body, a gesture, which consists i a n attitude or a n idea. It is interesting to note the play of palm leaves, n infinite combinations of geometric designs based of braided fibres, i on lozenges or ogives. Animals signify life. T h e y represent a source of abundant inspiration n this instance is neither pure diversion, nor mere for the artist. Art i ornamentation, but has a philosophical meaning and wisdom. T h e trapi t h its w e b is useful for divination, whereby, with faith, door spider w one can listen to the invisible world which transcends humanity a n d to which m a n is linked by profound participation. T h e B a m u m two-headed serpent, a royal emblem, symbolizes strength, ability, caution and n the African world of art. omniscience. Nothing is done haphazardly i O n e of the characteristics of Cameroonian art is that i t is communal. T h e artist does not sign his work-it i s signed by the whole community. Kings and their subjects are closely commingled in the intimacy of a n


Cameroonian artists and writers

anonymous life imbued with humanity and love of ones neighbour. T h e United Republic of Cameroon would have no meaning were i t not for this philosophy based on the spirit of brotherhood which calls for the union of all its citizens, m e m b e r s of the s a m e family, which is Cameroon, n fraternal their h o m e country. Our art is the symbol of our faith i unity, and our cultural policy is a joint quest for a c o m m o n heritage. T h e arts, like thought, and ethics, like politics and social and cultural t s y m p h o n y or harmony, life, m a k e up a whole, because thought is one, be i reflection or meditation, be i t seeking for beauty or for knowledge of the truth. T h e Association of Cameroonian Poets and Writers

n Cameroon, both a m o n g the young and a m o n g those Poetry flourishes i w h o are no longer young. T h e poet of Cameroon does not live by his poetry alone, nor by his novels i n verse or prose; he sings, composes and writes freely during his hours of recreation or leisure. n the authors mother tongues. In Beti/Fangi Great poetry is written i country, mention should be m a d e of the m v t genre, a chantefable of southern Cameroon. T h e author plays the m v t , his instrument, and sings, improvises and composes tirelessly, mixing poetry and prose, hope and despair, laughter and tears, poverty and wealth, strength and weakness. There is also the genre of the harp or lyre, the hilun. T h e author plays the hilun and composes verses or prose sequences. H e goes from vdlage to village, either by invitation or out of personal need. H e is reminiscent of the troubadour of mediaeval France. T h e nkot hilun occupies a n imporn the community, which both loves and fears him. H e is tant place i neither jester nor beggar, but a m a n of culture w h o k n o w s his history and is acquainted with the psychology of individuals and of crowds. In short, he is a chronicler of oral tradition. In Ban(n), w e have the poetry k n o w n as imbey, which is sung without accompaniment. It is spontaneous poetry improvised for the n honour of s o m e important personage of the group, a type occasion i of funeral dirge i n s o m e w a y s similar to hiyin or hilun poetry. T h e only thing required for the imbey is to be able to sing it, and for the hiyin, to be able to play while speaking or singing. In the Bamileke initiation societies, masculine poetry is the prerogative of young boys or of those with knowledge of the societies dances. T h e actors sing while dancing and playing musical instruments. T h e w o m e n , too, are poets i n this area. In B a m u m country, the poetry is often that of the Mfon royal court. There still exist jesters or griots (wandering minstrels or sorcerers) w h o call to mind the Lamibe courts of the A d a m a w a plateau or the C h a d centre.


Cameroonian artists and writers

O n the coast, poets are to be found a m o n g the bato bu ngoso. A m o n g the Duala, the mot a ngoso or mulong ngoso is a composer of topical songs or hymns, or a lyric poet. It is a m o n g the pirogue boatmen, canoe-paddlers, fishermen or river transport people that one finds the poets, m e n and w o m e n , w h o n rhyming verse. This is eminently accompany their paddling with songs i functional poetry, for i t helps the worker to resist fatigue and sadness. i l l sing W h e n a w o m a n starts pounding millet with a long pestle, she w and begin a lithe dance. T h e young people of y u m e (collective labour a m o n g the Ban(n)) sing in chorus the refrains whistled by a soloist. E a c h age group, m w e m b a m a yab, has its songs. T h e modern choirs of young people on the coast imitate the poetry of the old ngoso, mingled with borrowings from Western poetry. T h e mobelimbi, or talking t o m t o m player, is at once a poet, a composer of topical songs, and a prose writer. H i s poetry concerns every social stratum and all lifes events-birth, marriage, joy or sadness, victory or defeat, death or the end of mourning, poverty or wealth. Here the poet is a n educator of the people, a m a n worthy of his profession, and m u c h respected within his community. T h e artists of the Association of Contemporary Cameroonian Poets and Writers have built their art on this ancient fund of poetry, which they interpret or transpose, often merely translating it into French or English. Their works are familiar to everyone. B u t there are also poets w h o sing, compose and write i n their mother tongues and w h o k n o w h o w to innovate, as, for example, Francis Bebey. T h i s ancient poetry testifies to familiarity with the skills of versification. Poets learn t h e m during their period of initiation. Here is a local poem i n T u n n concerning the capture of a carnivore: Esay y, mal wundi
Balteseni nyinye esob m b o m a Banomato ba tbakdna, alba; Bokwa bo-bya, inine mna. Ititi m b o m a ulumu na bwos;

Capture of a carnivore

H e who

018 tomba, o18 sieline, Ano ylma; iyubeyube, Ndondongilo! Ndondongilo! Ndondongilo!

is not called by his name, great civet-cat of the forest W h o m little boys flee, is no more! Thing of misfortune, great taboo. The frightful one in the bush, the ulumu of broad daylight; N o one passes, no one looks at The hanged, sinister beast, Refrain: Ndondongilo! Ndondongilo! Ndondongilo!l

1. J. C. Bahoken, Histoire du S y s t h e Tambourin de Message Cod, p. 44,Unesco, 1969.


Cameroonian artists and writers

These few lines are couplets from the proclamation m a d e by a talking t o m t o m to inform the country that a w i l d beast has been trapped. For the panther loose i n the forest is the terror of sheep-folds a n d cattlesheds. Whenever such a beast is caught, the village a n d forest celebrate. T h e poetry composed for this occasion i s improvised. It is easy to sing to the accompaniment of the hikind, the talking t o m t o m of local announcements a n d news. T h e m e m b e r s of the Association of Cameroonian Poets a n d Writers w h o contribute to Abbia or whose works are published elsewhere, write in French or English to give expression to their African cultural heritage. First of all, they resort to the style of the legend to relate the lives of heroes and outstanding figures i n history. These legends also explain the devotion of certain m e n to their c o m m u n i t y a n d describe the m a n y struggles of ancestors during their migrations. T h e n the authors transcribe tales which are their sources of inspiration. It is from tales that proverbsexpressions of a simple philosophy-are forged. E a c h tale begins with a n this bone?) a n d a n question: for example, Angingila ye? ( W h o is i answer: Ewese (true knowledge). In the mboma, legend of Esowa D j k i la Ndjamb Inono na k w a Mtolo, which recounts the battle of Gjki of Ndjamb, the omniscient, and Kwa, the primeval boar, the officiants put the question and the audience answers.

Group of oficiants

Audiencelassem b Z y
Oh Malong m a nkwa Esaka

Emonymony? mapata m a Ngoso? Ekumbalan? Owoni e?

Aye! Ay. O dile m b a . M d e m a m u si dol.


Text translated into English Oh Most High! (Ohsublime God!)

Oh Guide! to what harvest dost
True, Thou, the Immortal Supra-regent of space (master of the universe) To meet the powers (trouble-maker States) No, a mere warning, for a smoking blade of grass m a y cause a great he. (Of course), the threat hovers here, there, everywhere. Oh Mother, Oh Mother, what hast thou bequeathed m e ? (Towhat hast thou m a d e m e heir?)

W i l l there be

thou bid us? a revolution?

But w i l l such chaos reach us?

Cameroonian artists and writers

Well then, tell thy Soul to choose

M y heart has lost its beauty (It is troubled, worried, grieved) I have chosen (I have just chosen).

W h e n e v e r one of the groups speak, the talking t o m t o m plays a few notes of accompaniment. It plays Lo kukulu logo lohulo! L o kukulu logo lohulo!, Nja Tus? Nja Tus? ( W h o gives y o u the strength a n d intelligence to be able to choose? W h o m a k e s y o u vibrate inwardly so as to m a k e your choice?) Answer of the interlocutor: Nyamba Dibenga! (The Supreme (One)-the Almighty-AU-Knowing).l T h e civilization of C a m e r o o n a n d its literature rests on a powerful oral tradition, on a c o m m u n a l society i n which literature a n d civilization are not only the best-shared c o m m o n heritage, but also collective assets, i n the sense that each succeeding generation must enrich the whole, so that future generations m a y re-inherit i t as ancestral capital. T h e oral literature is sometimes simply stylized i n clear ideograms reminiscent of the very ancient hieroglyphic literature of the banks of the Nile, which has as its counterpart the manuscripts i n Mum of the B a m u m , whose originality is the pride of the Republic. A l l this has to be discovered, analysed, understood a n d developed by Cameroons internal dynamic forces: writers, thinkers, singers, poets, players of musical instruments, or narrators of legends, m y t h s or history. It is a w o r k of the future, requiring ardent faith, which w e shall be able to accomplish thanks to the cultural revolution, or rather, the cultural n motion to eradicate all the manifestations of renewal, a process set i cultural neo-colonialism a n d to put a n end to the imitation of foreign cultural models. i l l b e rediscovered a n d rehabilitated thanks to the O u r civilization w w o r k of our specialists, geographers, linguists, sociologists, anthropologists, political scientists, lawyers, etc., w h o are already working within the cultural zones delimited by our provinces. T h e implementation of a genuinely Cameroonian cultural policy first of all requires complete political sovereignty, the affirmation of our personality and the determination of the Cameroonian people to build a strong, prosperous a n d efficient nation i n which citizens have the right to creative initiative i n matters of culture. n the field of education and T h e n there m u s t be a desire for renewal i civic training, which implies restoring respect for the values of our traditional humanism. W e m u s t reject imported cultural models a n d consequently social patterns devised by others, particularly by anthropologists and ethnologists of other races.

1. J. C. Bahoken, Histoire du Systme T a m b o u r i n de Message Cod, op. c i t . , p. 91 et seq.


Cameroonian artists and writers

Further, our cultural policy demands that thinkers and research workers should m a k e an objective, critical analysis of the past and s present, so as to decide upon the course that w e wish to take. Culture i the means whereby a l l the ultimate aims of the Cameroonian people can be seen more and more clearly and pursued through various programmes forming part of an over-all socio-economic development plan for the nation. Finally, this cultural policy presupposes the participation of the entire population. Cultural activities are henceforth planned at the village level as well as at that of the nation as a whole. All the events, activities and achievements help towards the building up of a cultural economy which perforce involves bringing economic and social policy into line with the policy of educating and training the m e n called upon to put the plan for a genuinely Cameroonian society into practice.


Public and private cultural activity

Premises for cultural activities Thanks to its c o m m u n a l institutions, the United Republic of Cameroon i s developing its culture within the natural framework of these family centres, which are c o m m u n a l establishments known as the nda-bot a m o n g the Fanpeti, k u m b a a m o n g the M b e n e (Basaa), tan a m o n g the Banen, and ndabo a m o n g the Duala. In the past, the chiefdoms of the Bamileke, the courts of the B a m u m Mfon, the Bamileke Fo, and Bansoa Mfon or the concessions of the notables of southern Cameroon, the lamido of the A d a m a w a plateau and of other northern Cameroon sultanates were cultural centres. A l l genuinely Cameroonian cultural life is found i n these circles, with its local colour. Associations such as the mwel of the Banen, the mungui of the Mbene, the nlak-s of the Beti, the ngondo of the Duala, the panngop and thefufu of the Bamileke are organizations both social and cultural in nature, i n that they disseminate the main cultural patterns. Present-day Cameroon i s gradually rediscovering its former cultural life thanks to the cultural renewal programme. There is no village, t o w n or locality that does not vibrate with joy w h e n the time comes for natural festivals or family gatherings. n the T h e radio makes i t possible to pick u p musical programmes i remotest villages and broadcast t h e m throughout the republic. Thanks i l l share its to the forthcoming installation of television, Cameroon w culture with the whole of Africa, or even the entire world. T h e fourth Five-Year Development Plan w i l l lay d o w n the specific objectives of cultural activity, setting up community centres throughout the country. A centre of this kind is a place for initiatory meetings, for the artistic and moral training of m e m b e r s of the community. A r ti n all its forms is first and foremost the expression of the nobility and generosity of spirit


Public and private cultural activity

of the community as a whole. E a c h social group, each family, imparts culture to its m e m b e r s by informing them, instructing t h e m through n the free and public forum of the theatrical performances organized i n such m a n n e r as to arouse i n t h e m a fervent community meeting centre i enthusiasm for their c o m m o n cultural heritage. Education comes through dialogue between h u m a n beings i n this propitious environment, where everyone i s free to speak, where aspirations are fulfilled through physical movement, where the spirit soars towards beauty and enables the n which he understands things invisible to the individual to reach a state i eye but apprehensible by the mind. There are several patterns of cultural life i n Cameroon, the outcome of a rich h u m a n diversity, of manifold trends of civilization and of philosophical and ethical concepts. Since our culture i s the sum total of our spiritual values, our manner of thinking and learning, of living and acting, our peoples have discovered their o w n particular w a y s of expressing it. W e must have cultural initiative; by that I mean, writes Professor Fonlon,l the right or ability to introduce n e w methods of action i n cultural matters based on the feeling of the people and not on the ideas of a Westernized minority. i n this Colonialism, of course, seized this initiative from Africans ( n so doing seriously weakened our cultural case the Cameroonians) and i continuity. Village or regional cultural centres were more or less opposed by the colonial powers, w h o introduced the idea of the m u s e u m . For i f the word m u s e u m i s not often used i n the current vocabulary of Africa,2 i t is precisely because no African south of the Sahara originally thought of culture as m u s e u m material and because, for him, cultural objects such as masks, musical instruments, jewels and articles of apparel have no meaning save as accessories of some cultural event: a m a s k is part of a dance, a musical instrument is played, clothes serve to dress up actors, and the centre itself is viable only w h e n used as a local meeting place for cultural exchanges.

T h e United Republic of Cameroon has not developed its m u s e u m infrastructure for reasons which i t would take too long to explain here. Nevertheless, i t should be emphasized that government policy paves the w a y for national unity at every level. In the words of the President of the Republic :

The new task which ...lies ahead of us, is to inject feeling into this community, formed officially and objectively, and to make it the object of our affection,
1. B. Fonlon, Construire e t Dtruire, Abbia, (Yaound), No. 5, p. 35, 36. 2. I. Parb, La Place e tl e Rle dea Muses dans l e Plan de Dveloppement Economique e t Social de lAfrique, Abbia, No. 5, p. 49.


Public and private cultural activity

fidelity and gratitude, in short, to make it our mother country. If w e w i s h to make the Cameroonian nation a more complete sociological reality, both objective and subjective, rational and efficient, formal and concrete, we must give it a richer cultural content, but one fertilized by our traditional values in which the most authentic l i f e of the Cameroonian people is rooted. To put it i n a nutshell, the point is to assemble and transcend the tribal lands within the Cameroonian nation and thus to create a single mother country-Cameroon 1. T h e cultural centre is a m u s e u m which has the advantage of providing i t h a place for self-communion and for meditation on past, the people w present and future generations. In addition to stimulating patriotic feelings because of the ancestral relics, genealogical lists, ritual objects, works of art and literary texts to be seen there, i t represents a sacred n our ancestors, invisible beings, spirits, the place for us w h o believe i supreme being, briefly, i n a divine entity, whatever w e m a y call him:

Nyambe, Nyinyi, Zambe or Howel.

It is no exaggeration to say that a m u s e u m is, so to speak, a place of liturgy (literal meaning: public service) where a n entire community is i n spiritual c o m m u n i o n through thought and physical presence. Let us not forget that the original meaning of the word m u s e u m w a s a temple or sanctuary dedicated to the Muses, or goddesses of the arts. O n visiting a m u s e u m , one has the feeling of being i n contact with visible and invisible beings symbolized by the various objects within it, which have a message for each visitor. There is always i n a m u s e u m something solemn and strange which makes it a sacred place. In addition to its liturgical function, a m u s e u m is a meeting place for u l f i l this function properly, artists, thinkers, poets and inventors. T o f m u s e u m s must be scattered throughout the country and located i n neighbourhoods inhabited by people plying a given trade. For example, i l l be a m u s e u m of blacksmiths, another of basket-makers, of there w n wood, another of those w h o wood-carvers, sculptors and engravers i w o r k metal, raffia, ebony, ivory and animals horns. W h a t is interesting is not to see the objects exhibited, but to see the craftsmen creating their works. W h e n w e admire a finely wrought object, our esthetic sense is gratified, but if w e k n o w w h o m a k e s i t and h o w the master brings i t alive, w e appreciate more fully the civilizing role of these geniuses w h o are our brothers and sisters. A m u s e u m becomes truly interesting and alive if it serves as a meeting place for m e n of genius and people athirst for culture. T h e n i t i s that the m u s e u m becomes a centre of education, because i t introduces every generation to the craftsmans skills. U p o n entering such a m u s e u m , w e shall not feel that w e are visiting a dead place.
1. E l Hadj A. Ahidjo, Nation et Dveloppement dans lUnit et la Justice, Prsence Africaine, 1969, p. 14-20.


Public and private cultural activity

W h e n Cameroon builds its future cultural centres, or rather, palaces of civilizations, i n Y a o u n d and i n the chief towns of the provinces, specialists from the various family groups can be invited there, to orgai l l be performances of dancing, nize various events. For example, there w music and plays, as well as exhibitions of objects such as dance masks, i l l have as its subject a society costumes and rare tools. E a c h exhibition w particular aspect of present, past or future life, so as to demonstrate the cultural unity of a multi-faceted country. T h e importance of such a i l l be that it makes Cameroonians not merely consucultural policy w mers of culture, like the inhabitants of countries where a n entrance fee m u s t be paid to view objects accumulated i n museums, but also n exchanges of models of creators, through their active participation i civilization.


Culture is also promoted through the m e d i u m of libraries and documentation centres. A few large libraries exist i n Y a o u n d and i n the towns where secondary schools are located. T o w n halls, m u s e u m s and cultural centres do not have any public libraries. That entire sector has still to be developed. T h e countrys principal libraries are listed below: T h e Library and National Archives Service of Y a o u n d contains 5,000 volumes and a considerable n u m b e r of documents, archives and periodicals. T h e National Assembly Library contains 4,000 volumes and numerous periodicals. T h e Central Library of the University contains 52,000 books, 620 periodicals, 17 maps, 207 lantern-slides, 12 sound tapes a n d 88 microflms. T h e Library of African History has 4,000 books, 2,000 slides, 30 records, 10 f i l m s , 500 art objects a n d 1,000 photographs. T h e Library of the African Research and Documentation Centre has 500 books a n d periodicals on Cameroonian jurisprudence. T h e Dominican Socio-Cultural Centre has 5,000 books and 141 periodicals. T h e University Centre of Health Sciences has 4,000 books and 184 periodicals. T h e Library of the National School of Administration and Magistracy has 6,000 works, 48 periodicals, 60 slides, 1,200 training-course reports and 400 magnetic tapes. T h e Nkolbisson Library of the National College of Agriculture has 3,950 works and 30 periodicals. T h e Library of the Teacher Training College has 16,000 books, 150 periodicals and 50 slides.

8 1

Public and private cultural activity

T h e Library of the Y a o u n d International College of Journalism has 2,500 books, 102 periodicals and 150 press files. T h e Library of the Faculty of Protestant Theology has 8,000 books, 100 periodicals and 50 microfilms. T h e Library of the Great Seminary of Nkolbisson has 10,000 book8 and 3 0 periodicals. T h e Library of the Cameroon Institute of International Relations has 8,500 works and 150 periodicals. T h e Library of the M o u n t Febe Benedictine Monastery contains 10,000 volumes on philosophy and theology and 10 periodicals. T h e Library of the African and Malagasy Bureau of Industrial Property has 1,000 books and 53 Periodicals. T h e Library of the Bureau of Overseas Scientific and Technical Research has 10,000 books, 691 periodicals, 1,198 microfilms, a large photo library on Cameroon and Africa and manuscripts of the colonial period.

Public reading libraries. T h e British Council has 6,000 volumes and 16 periodicals; the American Cultural Centre has 8,500 books, 20 perioi l m s ;the French Cultural Centre has 18,643 dicals and 475 records and f books, 115 periodicals, 7,000 slides, 1,500 records and 1,150 films; the Goethe Institute has 3,500 books, 39 periodicals, 105 slides, 300 records and 280 magnetic tapes; the Documentation Centre of the Ministry of Information and Culture has 800 volumes, 74 periodicals and 200 press files; the Documentation Service of the Ministry of Planning has 2,700 volumes, 51 periodicals and 300 aerial photographs. T h e opening of municipal libraries is beginning slowly and no exact information can be given on that subject before the fourth Five-Year Plan is out. W i t h the proposed construction of popular cultural centres, i ti s hoped that library services and those of written, sound and filmed documentation will develop on a large scale.


T h e village cultural centre i s the focal point of civilization of the c o m n miniature, the soil i n which the values of our cultural heritage munity i are rooted. T o quote further the President of the Republic :

A genuine culture must have its roots in the daily life of the people, in the values that give meaning to its existence. It is from that soil, and from that soil alone,
that a vigorous plant can spring up, capable of assimilating external contributions and of secreting a new form of original culture, adapted to the requirements


Public and private cultural activity

of the modern world, richer, but still reflecting the particular temperament of the Cameroonian people . 1

T h e village unit is the nursery of genuinely national culture. As with i l i the civic and political training of citizens, the Party has organized m tants by cells i n the neighbourhoods and villages which form rural districts at the administrative level, and it would be desirable to expand this system by installing cultural centres i n each village. n a city district, which has a T h e cultural centre m a y also operate i n that its inhabitants speak the s a m e language, have cultural unity i the s a m e ethic and play games together. For example, the ballets of young B a m u m , the Mini-Bantu of the Beti, the ba$a dancers, the youth of Menua, the Mini-Magassa are directed by m e m b e r s of the Cameroon Federation of Y o u t h Movements of Arts and Letters. To be sure, cultural centres have already been established at various n the country, i n Duala, Yaound, F u m b a n , Bafussam, etc., but points i the direction a n d content of the events organized have not always been i n keeping with the mission assigned to t h e m by the President of the United Republic of Cameroon, i . e . to be the soil from which a vigorous plant can spring up, capable of assimilating external contributions a n d of secreting a n e w form of original culture. T o achieve such a result, there must be a n original cultural policy capable of creating n e w modelsthere must be a revolutionary stimulus. For, as the President of the Republic has said, our country is engaged i n a threefold revolution: a n economic revolution, through the Green Revolution whose purpose is to promote the progress of everyone i n a balanced and just manner; a cultural renewal which aims at restoring to the Cameroonian people their sense of dignity and creative power, i . e . to m a k e them, and t h e m l alone, the subject of their o w n history . . . T h e cultural renewal, or rather the cultural rebirth, is the revolutionary stimulus that w i l l restore to the people of Cameroon their sense of dignity and their power to create a n e w set of genuinely national values. W h e n w e speak of a cultural centre, w e think not so m u c h of a building (public or private) as of a centre forming a whole network of the progressive elements of our civilization, a dynamic focal point where the models of civilization needed by the national community are devised.

T h e term craftsmens village, as used here, does not signify a site

1. E l Hadj A. Ahidjo, op. c i t . , p. 17. 1. E I Hadj A. Ahidjo,Message of the Head of State to young people, i n Bulletin Quotidien . dInformations (Cameroon Press Agency), No. 34, 10 February 1974, p. 4


Public and private cultural activity

intended to accommodate a village community occupied solely with crafts. T h e idea is to organize villages i n such a w a y as to foster i n them at all times the need a n d taste for art and beauty, and to enable this need to be m e t freely. A t F u m b a n , for example, i n B a m u m country, n Y a o u n d and several there is a craftsmens quarter. In Duala, as i other localities, craftsmen are associated i n corporations-cabinetmakers, ivory-carvers, painters, blacksmiths, jewellers and composersingers. Often, the life of a craftsman is no different from that of other citizens, but it deserves to be smoothly organized and the craftsman should n Africa is the have opportunities to spread his influence. Since art i affair of the entire community, the life of craftsmen is a n answer to the cultural needs of society as a whole.

Cultural events

Cameroon takes part i n m a n y exhibitions i n foreign countries. For example, i t w a s represented at the Exhibition of Negro Arts organized i n connexion with the World Festival i n Dakar i n 1966 and at the exhibition organized for the First Cultural Festival of Algiers i n 1968. Within the country, a book exhibition i n which all nations are represented is held every t w o years. Regional exhibitions to promote culture are often held i n the departments and i n municipal districts. In December 1973, a n important musical festival w a s attended by Cameroons leading musicians of international standing, w h o gave n Duala and Yaound. concerts i Every Sunday, the entire country listens over the radio to a festival n which are heard the various languages of the h u m a n of national music i communities who, inspired by the s a m e patriotic fervour, share the wealth of their musical art.

The E l H a d j A h m a d o u Ahidjo Prize is a powerful stimulus to the intellectual lite of the United Republic of Cameroon. Our young intellectuals, President Ahidjo has said, must redouble their efforts to be creative and to acquire a better knowledge of our traditional civilizations 1

1. E l Hadj A. Ahidjo, Nationet Dveloppement dans lUnit e tl a Justice, op. c i t . ,p . 12.


Public and private cultural activity

Every initiative taken by the young intellectuals of our country forms part of a n ethic of freedom. National liberation does not stop short at political independence; i t involves individual freedoms a n d personal n matters of creation and research. It is a highly progresinitiatives i sive policy, calling for real participation by each citizen i n the taking of initiatives. T h e construction of a country depends on its sons feeling fully responsible and settling d o w n resolutely to the task of finding solutions to the problems facing the national community as a whole. Policy decisions are of no avail if the m e a n s to implement t h e m d o not exist, but even w h e n policy decisions have been taken and the economic m e a n s provided, the desired development of a country cannot be achieved without mens enthusiasm and faith. N o w true faith i s not n a better possible unless i t inspires the believer with fervent hope i future. Science, and particularly scientific research, progremes only through n all its forms is the most propitious frafaith, and the school system i m e w o r k for the development of scientific research on interdisciplinary t is easier lines and with the participation of the entire nation. Since i to m a k e this effort, President Ahidjo has said, w h e n working together, w e must provide for

the organization of seminars, symposia, public lectures and various exhibitions, so that the whole country m a y benefit from the resulting h u m a n and national s enrichment. The recent establishment of a literary, artistic and scientific prize i designed, precisely, to encourage the work of creation and research which I urge young Cameroonians to undertake and which it is the noble mission of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture, and particularly its Directorate of Cultural Affairs, to promote and direct. 1
w a s first awarded to the Faculty of Science for the discovery n 1970, then to a young writer of a n e w vitamin, k n o w n as bokitamine, i for his novel entitled Trois Prtendants . . . Un Mari, and thereafter to a jurist-anthropologist.

T h i s prize

Inventory of the cultural and natural heritage

Our country, President Ahidjo has said, is naturally rich a n d varied: there is geographical diversity, h u m a n diversity, diversity of traditional civilizations, diversity of dialects, diversity of religions . . . I I f w e wish to m a k e the Cameroonian nation a more complete sociological reality, both objective and subjective, rational and efficient,
1. E l Hadj A. Ahidjo,Natione t Dveloppement dans lUnit e t la Justice, op. c i t . , p. 18.


Public and private cultural activity

i t h a richer cultural formal and concrete, w e must therefore e n d o w i t w content, but one fertilized by our traditional values i n which the most authentic life of the Cameroonian people is rooted. T h e cultural heritage is m a d e u p of the objective and subjective elements, the feelings, beliefs and languages through which the C a m e roonian people forms a n entity.


Decree No. 741890 dated 31 October 1974, concerning the organization of the Institute of H u m a n Sciences (Article 9 ) , the Regional Centre for Research and Documentation on Oral Traditions and the Developm e n t of African Languages for the States of Africa has been operating within the framework of Division I (history, languages, philosophy and civilizations).

It is a matter of urgency to d r a w up an inventory of natural sites which are particularly beautiful and offer better living conditions for h u m a n s and animals. n the western provinces. Natural sites are to be found mostly i Dschang is a health-resort which has been called the Auvergne of C a m e roon. T h e Bafussam, Bangwa, Bangangte and Ndikinimeki country forms a n i m m e n s e plateau where the altitude varies from 750 to 1,000 metres and where temperatures range from 60 to 320 C. T h e B a m u m country is a magnificent natural site admirably suited to cultural tourism. There w e find the old palace of the B a m u m sultanate which has m a d e the reputation of F u m b a n and is the pride of Cameroon. T h e F u m b o t and K u t a b a hills are particularly pleasant places for excursions or holidays. T h e M u n g o region, especially at Nkongsamba, Nlohe and L u m , with Mounts Manenguba, Nlonako a n d Kupe, is a mountainous site where i t is agreeable to live and work. Buea, at the foot of M o u n t Cameroon, is a n attractive, cool t o w n where tourists are well received i n hotels; the beaches of Bota, near Victoria, and Tiko, on the bay of the Gulf of Guinea, are also attractive. A t Bota, the coast is indented, with cliffs rising straight from the water and mangroves with their roots i n the sea. Tourists can go on excursions by rowing-boat or pirogue. T h e beautiful E k o m Falls of the River N k a m are between N k o n g s a m b a and Bafang. In the northern province, the magnificent parks of W a z a and Bubandjidah are wild animal kingdoms-lions, elephants, buffaloes, baboons and hippopotami. T h e village of Goudshoumi is remarkable for its original houses


Public and private cultural activity

shaped like artillery shells and covered with skilfully plaited straw. W e might further mention the extraordinary sites of the Mandara Mountains, with the lunar setting of Gazawa, the situation of Nokula on the river, the peak of Mindif, rising vertically into a blue sky. In the distance are L a k e Fianga and the village of Datsheka, where the n hamlets, Tupuri live. T h e Kapsiki, Rumsiki and the R u m z u live i where awe-inspiring monoliths over 100 metres high rise from the ground.

Cameroon is rich i n historic and cultural monuments. By a decree of 1944, the first official m u s e u m w a s founded at the Cameroon Centre of the French Institute of Negro Africa. Since then, the n u m b e r of m o n u m e n t s and m u s e u m s has constantly increased. T h e principal m u s e u m s are the following: T h e Museum/Public M o n u m e n t of Duala contains art objects, old weapons, adornments and various items from all over the national territory. n F u m b a n , contains a rich T h e M u s e u m of B a m u m Art and Traditions, i collection of examples of genuine B a m u m art of interest, not only to tourists, but especially from the cultural point of view. T h e M u s e u m of the Royal Palace of M f o n B a m u m contains part of the royal treasure of art objects, clothing and jewellery, as well as m a n y n Mum. manuscripts i T h e M u s e u m of B a m e n d a contains items from the chiefdoms of the region. T h e M u s e u m of M a r u a exhibits traditional and art objects from the northern province. Besides these museums, mention should be m a d e of the historic m o n u m e n t s a n d buildings of a cultural nature. An inventory is at present being compiled at the request of the Ministry of Information and Culture. Pending the results of that project, only a few of such i l l be mentioned. monuments w T h e Royal Palace of F u m b a n , which belongs to the M f o n B a m u m dynasty, is a n architectural work of exceptional value and one of the rare vestiges of the civilization of the B a m u m people. It is a treasure belonging to all the M u m people and forms a n integral part of the cultural heritage of Cameroon as a whole. It contains a collection of works of art of the highest quality, and items which, with the passing of time, have acquired the value of cultural models. A n outstanding example is the M u m lerva mfon writing, invented by M f o n Njoya Ibrahim, Sultan of the B a m u m . T h i s palace has aged considerably a n d requires restoration which w i l l enable it to become a functional, historic m o n u m e n t capable of


Public and private cultural activity

housing: a school for the study of the Mum language, the numerous palace manuscripts and texts relating to political life, B a m u m law, economic techniques, B a m u m medicine, and family arts and traditions; a large library to house the old manuscripts and various documents i n the Mum language, as well as other works of scientific value; a centre for studies of African arts and techniques, containing the works of the great artists and thinkers of Central Africa; a medical research centre for the study of plants, methods of healing and treating illnesses and for research on mental illnesses; and a popular education centre for adults and young people interested in Mum thought. The t o w n of F u m b a n , in which the palace is located, is a n example of complete urban civilization i n the Cameroon style. Restoration of the sultans palace w i l l give back to the M u m people the possibility of preserving a set of cultural models worthy of forming part of the national heritage of the United Republic of Cameroon. In the north, the forts of Kusseri and Y o k o and the archaeological sites of the Sao country are well known. In the south-central region, a noteworthy m o n u m e n t is the old n the residence of the High Chief Atangana, whose m o n u m e n t stands i centre of Yaound, not far from the Presidency of the United Republic of Cameroon. O n the coast, there are m a n y historic m o n u m e n t s erected to the m e m o r y of the leading notables of Cameroon. T o all that, w e should add the public buildings of cultural interestthe old railway stations, the family residences left behind by the Germans, French and English. Scattered about, w e c o m e across Christian churches and Islamic mosques, but also minute temples, shrines and sanctuaries which are c o m m o n property to be included i n the inventory of the cultural a n d natural heritage of historic value that should be protected.

Magnetic tapes, sound recordings and cultural flms Magnetic tapes, sound recordings and films, owing to their value as n the projects for conserving instruments of culture, feature prominently i Cameroons cultural heritage.

In Cameroon-and this is equally true of most countries i n Africamagnetic tapes play a n important part i n the spread of culture. A mere glance at the broadcasting programme of any radio station i s enough n communities where speaking is to m a k e one realize its importance i


Public and private cultural activity

more c o m m o n than writing and listening to a speech more usual than reading texts. Thanks to magnetic tapes, i t is possible to disseminate information to a very wide audience and to establish direct and immediate contact with it.

Records are destined to become a n instrument of cultural development. n stereophony, i t is even conceivable that records W i t h the progress i w i l l gain absolute superiority over the other means of reproducing and disseminating works of the mind. In the cultural policy of Cameroon, a special role is assigned to n the training of citizens. Apart from the fact that sound recordings i records ensure the preservation of musical and literary works, they afford each person (like books, for that matter) the possibility of choosing freely the works he wants to know, by following his personal preferences, free of any outside pressure. Thanks to them, everyone can n Article 27 of the Universal Declaration exercise the right, set forth i n the cultural life of the c o m of H u m a n Rights, freely to participate i n scientific advancement a n d munity, to enjoy the arts and to share i its benefits. As a means of communicating with the peoples of the entire world, sound recordings m a k e a mighty contribution to recognition of the values of each culture and therefore to bringing closer together countries and civilizations separated by language and space. Finally, records are a remarkable means of introducing culture into the h o m e s of the national communities and thereby contributing effectively to the spiritual unification of the citizens of the United Republic of Cameroon. T h e y are also a unifying factor for Africa as a whole, since they transcend the frail barriers of political thought. T h e development of sound recordings is one of the most important social and cultural p h e n o m e n a i n the history of mankind. In music, especially, records play a unique part, because they facilitate mutual understanding of the musical expression of the different n the mother tongues express all the essential communities. For songs i elements of the soul of each community, its life style, its w a y of thinking and visualizing the universe and the beings w h o people i t , a n d its w a y i t h others. In addition, thanks to records, of establishing relations w the whole of the younger generation of singers and composers taking part i n the cultural revolution can exchange the results of their w o r k with young people throughout the world. Records are also ideal media for disseminating the plays and poetry, n as well as the other forms of oral literature, of every province i Cameroon. For both young and old, records are like speaking books. n the collection and conservation of T h e y render unparalleled service i


Public and private cultural activity

oral traditions, particularly those expressed i n languages which are i n danger of disappearing. It is important that the record industry be given substantial financial support, so that i t can rescue from oblivion those languages which are the vehicle of the traditions, folklore and religious thought of whole communities. Finally, records are teaching aids whose effectiveness cannot be n science, overestimated. While visual techniques facilitate education i painting, architecture and the plastic arts, records are of inestimable n teaching music and 1anguages.l value i n this respect. By broadT h e radio has a n important part to play i casting records and other sound recordings, it assists the governments efforts to educate the public, to ensure the civic training of citizens, to keep t h e m informed and, thereby, to increase the well-being of the entire nation.

Like records and books, f i l m s are a n educational, scientific and cultural instrument. T h e y are a means of cultural communication and art education affording the film-maker the possibility of using his talents and his gift of creating and inventing cultural models. A n y o n e who has followed audio-visual courses, handled motion-picture cameras a n d their accessories, and participated i n one w a y or another i n producing i l m can appreciate the enormous importance of f i l m si n the cultural a f policy of a country responsive to the magic of words and images. A f i l m highlights the characters of a novel, a story, a legend or a historical event, bringing t h e m to life again each time i t is shown. Films enable us to keep the memories of our past intact and, in this sense, to m a k e our culture everlasting. Coupled with sound recorded on discs or magnetic tape, films give cultural centres and communities the opportunity to participate at n cultural events. T h e cinemas i n Cameroon are always first hand i filled with people from all social walks of life. i l m s of international repute, Cameroon has not yet produced any f except for the f i l m entitled La Grande Case by Mr Jean-Paul Ngassa, at present Director of Cinematography at the Ministry of Information and Culture, but chiefly experimental documentaries and short films. However, young a m - m a k e r s are beginning to m a k e themselves known, n Lagos is certain to bring and the next Festival of African-Negro Arts i

1. In Cameroon, the study of languages i s conducted at the Department of African Languages and Linguisticaof the Faculty of Arts and H u m a n Sciences of the University of Yaound, at the Federal Linguistic and Cultural Centre in Yaound, at schools, such as the Libermann Secondary School i n Duala, for example, and finally at private religious schools and over the National Radio.


Public and private cultural activity

the first important batch of Cameroonian cinematographers to the fore. It is to be hoped that with the proposed introduction of television i n Cameroon, f i l m s w i l l assume greater importance a n d a large n u m b e r i l l be of them, either educational or inspired by the soul of Africa, w produced. By preserving in sound the m e m o r y of a great singers voice or a n instrumentalists technique, and of cultural, political, economic or i l l give the people artistic events, the government of our country w n the making of its history and i n the the opportunity to take part i nations social and cultural development. Whereas records instruct, images are a n instrument for unifying the national community. In relation to the cultural take-off scheduled by the cultural n Cameroon revolution, the protection of records and films produced i i s a priority task. T h e proposed establishment of a Cameroonian f i l m library, if not of a n African one, w i l l enable certain decisions concerning the presentation of our cultural heritage to be put into practice. This project must have priority owing to: the fact that our oral cultural traditions are i n danger of disappearing; the impermanent nature of African musical instruments; and the scarcity of f i l m s produced by Cameroonians in a truly African spirit. T h e point at issue is, first, to rescue a n imperilled cultural h u m a n i s m and, second, to create conditions conducive to the preparation of a future humanism. d m library of African organology is well suited to T h e project of a f Cameroon, a crossroads of cultures, civilizations and migrations. T e a m s of specialists and research workers WU b e assigned responsibility for making inventories of records, f i l m s a n d magnetic tapes throughout i l m s; encouraging n e w producers the regions; collecting records and f of f i l m s and records; and creating a c o m m u n a l artistic and cultural spirit, with a view to fostering national unity, preserving the Cameroonian cultural heritage, and facilitating the advent of a contemporary humanism, with the participation of Cameroon.


[B.12] SHC.75/XIX-34/A