Oral history, collective memory and socio-political criticism: A study of popular culture in Cameroon
The growing popularity of contemporary Cameroonian popular cultural production is a significant indication of the value attached to the medium as well as the appreciation of the opportunity offered by the Biya regime. As opposed to the Ahidjo era, Cameroonian popular cultural products today are preoccupied with the daily concerns of the society at large and the masses in particular who have appropriated the art, with its evolving thematic and stylistic focus, thereby making it suitable as a veritable avenue for the representation of voices. Also considered as new forms of oral literature, pop culture owes invaluable contribution to public social discourse. There is no denying therefore that the present form of popular culture is a hybrid of folk or traditional art customized in step with the exigencies of contemporary Cameroonian society. This paper articulates the relationship between historico-social reality and popular culture showing how Cameroonian popular cultural musicians use history and social realities as raw material for the configuration of creative ideology. It further demonstrates that without forfeiting artistic grandeur, popular culture acts as a reservoir of memory, collective experience and sociopolitical criticism.
Keywords: Cameroonian popular culture, collective memory, oral literature, sociopolitical criticism