Accepted Paper:

Youth culture, music and religion in urban Cameroon  


Raphaela von Weichs (Université de Lausanne)

Paper short abstract:

"Music is prayer two times" and a common expression in the Republic of Cameroon. This paper discusses the power of music as a gendered social and political expression under conditions of the authoritarian state by taking the Republic of Cameroon as a case in point.

Paper long abstract:

« Music is prayer two times » and a common expression in the Republic of Cameroon. While the country is ruled by the same authoritative regime since decades, much of its population faces serious empoverishment, unemployment and social tensions. Youths are particularly affected by the economic decline. However, political and social protests are rare. They are rather substituted by the practice of religion and the making of music. This paper will show how students, many of them female, create a space of social freedom in Buea, a University city in Southwestern Cameroon, by managing to bring popular music such as 'Makossa' and 'Bikutsi' into the local church and by turning this public but sacred place into a booming night floor. It will thereby discuss the power of music and religion, in the African authoritarian state who likewise uses music and religion as a political device.

Panel P114
Anthropology of music, popular music scenes, performance practices and challenges of the present