Many young people in Cameroon are no longer listening to Cameroonian music. It is mostly hip-hop and other stuff like that, and not the best. In the end, the music of the whole world is going to sound the same. How boring!
It looks like the century-old tradition of independent African popular music is retreating. It started with Highlife music around the beginning of the 20th century in what is today Ghana. Later, in the 1950s and 1960s, other styles, like Soukous in the Congo area, emerged. The typical style of Cameroon in the 1970s and 1980s, Makossa, has its roots on both sides.
Now, 30 to 40 years later, some of the old musicians from those days are still alive, but they are no longer young. However, the times of this music are not completely over yet. It is showing grey hair, but is still alive and kicking!
On Dec. 22nd 2012, we visited the Dreamland Cabaret in Bamenda, Cameroon. What a great club! Very clean, strictly non-smoking (however, hardly anybody in Cameroon is a smoker), with good service. And the music is simply fantastic!
We came there between 10 and 11 P.M. The life music on stage was already going on. We heard they start at 10 P.M. When we left between 1 A.M and 2 A.M., the band was still playing. They did not have any break as a band, its life music continuously! The musicians are taking breaks in turn, playing some tunes that do not require all of them, but the band is continuously on stage. They play Makossa and really play it in the classical style of the mid-1980s. They also play Soukous, Bikutsi and a number of other styles, including some Njang, a traditional dance from the Bamenda area. These musicians, who are the house band of the club, are really marvelous. There is a drummer, a keyboard, a bass, two guitars and several singers, two of them females who are also great dancers and a male. Another male singer who appeared sporadically seems to have been from the audience, but I am not sure, a great dancer, by the way.
The musicians are no longer young and the same holds for the audience. Most people seemed to be in their 40s, 50s and 60s. One man from the audience turned out to be old-time Makossa star Geo Masso. He sang two of his old tunes. What a Great surprise! It was also a great fun for me to dance and to watch some really good dancers. It felt like in the old times.
Should you ever come to Bamenda, this is the place to go to Saturday night! If not, you are missing something in life.