The music of Cameroon has a diversity similar to that of its
geography and culture: Makossa from Douala, Bikutsi from the Centre Province,
Makassi and Tchamassi from the West... Although these modern electric music styles
were influenced by both Latin music and Congolese music, they are nonetheless rooted in various traditional rhythms. Also, the influence of Christian chorales
can sometimes be heard in the way of singing.
• The Rise of Modern Cameroonian Music
From early contributors as Lobe Lobe, Ebanda Manfred and Nelle Eyoum,
music developed differently in Douala and Yaoundé. In Douala, makossa emerged from a traditional Douala
rhythm, in Yaoundé balafon based bands such as the Richard Band de Zoétélé were popular.
Other Cameroonian music styles are even more rooted in traditional rhythms, such as the Asiko, a folkoric rhythms
of the Bassa people, the Ambasse Bey, and the Mangambêu.
Of all styles, Makossa has been the most successful, from the 1970s through the 1980s, and early 1990s, in Cameroon and in surrounding countries.
Internationally, makossa became known through Manu Dibango's Soul Makossa, although his music is a more fusioned
and jazzy derivation of pure makossa.
• Crisis, Change and Regionalisation
Makossa remained popular at least until the end of the 1980s. The 1990s brought about more (and renewed) attention for
bikutsi music (due to changing political circumstances) from the Yaoundé area, but also the Bend Skin from
the West-Province. From the second half of the 1990s on,
the Cameroonian music scene felt the competition of the Congolese ndombolo vague, followed by music from Côte d'Ivoire. Since then, makossa music
can be considered as a music style in crisis, not the least because its modernisation was not done successfully.
Fortunately, new talents have made their appearance using jazz and folk music as a starting point. Among them, we have bass players who engaged in a solo career,
such as Richard Bona and Etienne Mbappé, and also vocalists and singer-songwriters, for instance
Sally Nyolo, Coco Mbassi or Henri Dikongue.
Official name: République du Cameroun / Republic of Cameroon
Region: Central Africa Capital: Yaoundé
Official language: French, English
Main ethnic groups:
More than 200, main groups are Beti/Bulu/Fang, Bassa, Fulfulde, Bamileke, Bamun