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Wesleyan College

Publication Date

Fall 2014

Program Name

Cameroon: Social Pluralism and Development


The study was originally one of the changing practices of traditional dance in Cameroon, and the causes behind the shift from purposeful dances with relevance to everyday life, to dances primarily meant for entertainment and exposition. What emerged was the somewhat ironic realization that the current manifestations of traditional dance cannot be separated from a discussion of modernity and Cameroon’s socio-cultural development.

The changing practices of traditional dance in Cameroon compose a smaller piece of the larger puzzle of the ways in which Cameroonian culture is forced to adapt itself to the external influences of the times, while still attempting to hold onto its roots. Globalization has flooded Cameroon with cultural imports from neighboring nations, predominately from the West. This comes at the heels of colonization, during which period the ruling powers of Germany, then France and England demolished many of Cameroon’s cultural institutions, including dance. Colonization and globalization have left the general Cameroonian public less inclined to continue in purely traditional practices, favoring mélanges of cultures if not the wholehearted adoption of Western habits. Because of this, tradition has largely been relegated to the villages, while any outside manifestations of tradition have been mutated and pushed into the exhibitory sphere. This is something not unique to Cameroon; Alphonse Tiéru has noted this phenomenon in his work Dooplé: loi éternelle de la danse africaine, in regard to many African countries that have been impacted by globalization. Yet as Cameroon is “Africa in miniature”[1], due to its composition of over 250 ethnic groups, it is an ideal country to study the effects of the permeation and imposition of Western and foreign cultures on indigenous cultures.

[1]Achanyang Atabong Jarvis. Interview 17 November, 2014.


Dance | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies


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