The dearth of promotion outfits for Cameroon’s rich cultural diversity has always been blamed for the lack of interest by youths in stepping into the shoes of parents to ensure that cultural artifacts are sustained in perpetuity. Amid this worrisome circumstance, however, a cultural renaissance that has been materializing in the work of an NGO dubbed “The Joseph and Grace Awunti Foundation Group” is seemingly in the horizon. This NGO has taken the initiative to expose the heritage of the Bafut people of the Northwest Region so that it can compete with Nigerian, European, American and other products that are already reaping fame in the market.
The value of Bafut culture would henceforth reap international recognition based on the fact that Bafut, just like any other tribe in Cameroon has much to offer but has no avenue to exhibit its culture. This program that would enable the culture of the people to come out of its shell has been termed “the unsung heroes competition” and was officially launched on November 21, at Bafut palace under the distinguished patronage of His Royal Highness Fon Abumbi II of Bafut. The President of Joseph and Grace Awunti Foundation Group, Ghejuang Awunti, has let slip that “unsung hero means a hero that does not get his due. We know that we have very skillful performances that have not been fortunate to get the limelight. Unsung heroes’ means someone who is doing a lot but is not recognized, so this is an opportunity for that person to have a platform where their skills, talents and contributions can have a wider audience.”
He furthered that the unsung heroes competition would create an opening for Bafut songs to be compiled in CDs and then distributed beyond the nation. Through this, culture would reap economic gains and even become a means of livelihood. During the launching ceremony, varied dance groups of different magnitudes displayed their singing and dancing savvy. Mesmerized by drumbeats and body movements, audiences at the ceremony danced and applauded with cheerfulness. The “KwaKwa,” “Chiew Chiew,” “Niha,” “Mansoh,” “Wandong,” “Awombi,” “Mbane,” “Nchum” and “Tita” juju dance groups that had performed during the official launch were just a tip of the iceberg; launching has been extended till February within various Bafut zones to mobilize all other dance groups in these zones for a competition proper where winners would be awarded prizes.
The D.O of Bafut Sub Division who was present at the launch patronized the natives to “go back and mobilize other groups for the grand competition. Even if you are forming youth groups, form groups that would give a picture of our culture. Let us not inherit other people’s culture and throw our own culture. We have a very rich culture that we throw away and if we don’t preserve our culture, who else would come and preserve our culture for us? Let’s use this opportunity to revamp our culture. Culture should not only be for cry die. We should even wear our traditional regalia and move proudly on the streets.”
The Joseph and Grace Awunti Foundation was founded by some Cameroonians in the diasporas. The NGO is aimed at promoting cultural and civic engagement. They also offer philanthropic gestures like distributing medicines to community health centres. The initiative to promote culture would also include Tubah, wherein the cultural heritage of Tubah people would also be projected. This is backed by the fact that Bafut and Tubah have a common heritage, common culture and ancestral origins. The NGO previews a future where the culture of Cameroon people would be savoured not only at funerals but at marriage and birthday ceremonies in order to replace Nigerian, Ghanaian and western cultures which are currently saturating our markets.
By Mildred Ndum Wung Kum