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Power, Powerlessness and Radical Protest in Contemporary Cameroonian Popular Music
Muziki  (IF),  Pub Date : 2021-07-19, DOI: 10.1080/18125980.2021.1947154


Abstract

The fraught relationship between popular music and the various kinds of power in Africa has stimulated intensive scholarship and encouraged heated discussions on the topic. Of special interest seems to be the multifaceted character of that interrelationship. It is generally agreed that artistic expression is influenced by political power and that the two mutually inform and shape each other. This article examines the themes of power, powerlessness and protest as they affect political governance in Cameroon, Central Africa, and as they are reflected in Cameroonian popular music. It further shows how popular songs are used to examine fundamental issues of national concern and to criticise the political leadership. The purpose of the article is to demonstrate how popular music can open a window of understanding into the current political process in Cameroon with a view to drawing implications for positive change. Written against the background of new historicism and postcolonial theories, the article is built on the assumption that popular music is a vibrant and dynamic form of oral literature which is shaped by social, economic and political forces in present-day Cameroon. As a result, popular music has the potential to play a role in influencing a society's perception and sense of direction. The article concludes by recommending that if the issues of power and marginality in Cameroon are to be addressed more successfully, and if the politically fraught conditions are to be ameliorated, then Cameroonians must be prepared to undergo a radical change of mentality.