Cameroonian musicians have come under widespread criticism for failing to unite forces and use the power of the talent to contribute to the peace process in the restive Northwest and Southwest regions.
They, among which are respected names across Africa and beyond with a huge following and influence are accused of having turned a blind eye to what they could do to prick the consciences of the parties in the armed conflict in the Northwest and Southwest regions of Cameroon, to come to reason.
The armed conflict in the Northwest and Southwest Regions has dragged on for four years now. During this period, different measures have been taken to arrest the situation that has imposed economic and social hardship on the population.
But shortly after the 2019 major national dialogue took place, a glimmer of hope became visible and there has been improved collaboration among government, influential bodies and, some local and foreign NGOs to end the war.
All sectors of society have come on deck to see how the crisis can be brought to an end or at least assuage the pain of the population.
Political and diplomatic voices that matter have aired their respective opinions. Some musicians have equally shown good faith. Critics say more is expected of them owing to the huge influence they will. Just like in South Africa and other parts of the world where music was used as an instrument to revamp unity and peace, Cameroon has remained almost different.
Majority of Cameroonian musicians have disregarded or given less importance to the crisis ongoing in Anglophone Cameroon. They have never been seen clearly pushing for an end to the crisis through music. They seem less bothered about the misery in the two regions.
Works of those who have attempted remain largely unpopular and with no impact, probably due to the line of thought that had no direct bearing on ending the war. It is indisputable that music has power that can fan and reduce tensions.
To immortalize this move, these musicians who are mostly seen attending concerts, launching new albums and showing off on social media platforms have as a matter of duty to demonstrate to their thousands of fans across the Northwest and Southwest Regions in particular and Cameroon in general that they are lovers of peace, unity and national concord.
It is no doubt that, songs promoting peace, harmony, living together, appealing to the consciences of the government and separatists, supporting reconstruction and calls to stop the senseless killings and fast track the return to normalcy is part of what the nation needs in this dispensation.
It is also vital that they should not be seen only chasing concerts and events left and right but be at the forefront of working for the general good of their fatherland.
Backlash Over Borrowed Example
The recent popular protest against the Nigeria Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, which came to be known as #EndSARS# Movement over allegations of human rights violation, torture and killings ignited some consciousness among Cameroonian musicians.
They have however been criticised for waiting for four years to borrow from Nigerian musicians and celebrities that flooded the streets in union with the population to demand change.
Critics say Cameroonian musicians are rather busy quarrelling and exchanging blows on social media over trivial issues with no impact.
A pocket of them only resurfaced days after to copy the #ENDSARS# movement to start an online campaign dubbed #ENDANGLOPHONECRISIS#.
Due to lack of originality, the steam quickly died down. The least that has equally been heard of them is dedicating their controversial awards to the crisis in the Northwest and Southwest. Analysts say given the pain of the population, no one takes such lip service seriously.
Why Musicians Should Rethink
Every Society is shaped by its values and culture. Among the different civilisation that have over the years influenced the society, music and entertainment has remained a very powerful mind control system. Today, it is difficult to see any Society that doesn’t like music or lacks some sort of entertainment in one way or the other.
Entertainers and musicians especially have also become powerful influencers in shaping the minds and lives of people especially youth.
Recently, following the ENDSARS Protest in Nigeria, the voices of the protesters gathered more strength and esteem when Popular Nigerian entertainers like Flavour, P-Square, Wizkid, Yul Edochie, Zubi Micheal and scores of others took to the streets demanding for an end to police brutality.
Davido, a Popular Billionaire musician and entertainer was even invited by the Federal Commissioner of Police upon the massive national protest where he clearly stated that there is a need for police reforms and an end to police brutality.
In Cameroon, the Anglophone Crisis has plagued the Northwest and Southwest for over four years. Different bodies, institutions and top individuals have called for an end to the crisis.
Many Cameroonians home and abroad have done same with many raising brows on the silence of majority Cameroonian artists in the crisis looking at their role and the situation in Nigeria.
According to Tabe Brandon, student Journalist, “Cameroonian musicians should come together as one. They always busy fighting themselves on social media. There should all unite as one man, come together and make their voices heard as through whatever means they can. We saw how Danny Greene came out and stood for an End to the Phone tax.”
Will the belligerents listen to the Artists?
Will the powers and authorities listen to these artist considering that deaf ears have been given to almost every call for ceasefire.
According to an observer, “it’s very true our artist like Mr. Leo, Tzy Panchak, Pascal and so many others have a role to play for an end to this crisis. They are popular people followed by a lot of youth. I am just concerned and worried if those in the bushes will be able to heed to the call from the artist to drop down their Weapons seeing that they have snubbed at even major international bodies and Organisations. I just hope these youth will listen to their brother’s plea for Peace”.
Clinton, an upcoming artist suggested that artist should use their different talents and communicate their message.
To him, those in music should sing songs that call for peace and an end to the Killings.
Those in the movie industry, he said should act short movies that reflects what is happening on ground and the sufferings the people are going through.
“I believe through this, out message and cries will touch the hearts of all these people” he said.
Ngwa Joyce, believes that, “they should preach peace in their different artistic works. Their music, poetry, movies should all be directed towards the theme of love, peace, and unity this is because they are opinion leaders and people live and depend on what they say or do”
Before now, the artist had organised a protest in Yaounde which many described as a drama and child’s play. About half a dozen of them have been able to produce songs that condemn the war and promote peace.
The turn out and attitude of the artist was visibly lukewarm.
Most Cameroonians think that these artists should rally themselves and the population and storm the streets calling for peace.
The Anglohone regions have been in turmoil now for four years with houses razed, people rendered hopeless and homeless and in abject poverty and suffering.
Every Goodwill Cameroonian has to fully stand up and ask for an end to the killings and it’s time for our Cameroonian celebrities and artists to redouble their voices and call on those carrying guns to reconsider peace as the way out of the political quack mire.
Why Gov’t Should Boost Music Industry
It is the responsibility of government to step up support to local musicians whose arts have propelled the good image of the country in one way or the way.
The likes of Tata Kingue who has successfully portrayed the essence of love and unity in his works, Mr Leo who has shown Cameroon’s bilingualism through music, Ben Decca who has made the SAWA culture thrive, Ateh Bazor and Afo Akom who have made the grass field culture popular and the list is long.
First published on The Chronicle Times