Rock music and Cameroon, a long love story…Or not. Despite the (failed) attempts made by some pop artists that tried to popularize rock music in the Cameroonian music industry in the past (Jay Rock, I’m watching you), it is clear that the bad reputation of this music genre, sometimes based on false preconceptions (you know all the devilish, loud, aggressive and brutal stuff) and frequently labeled as “white music” did not help Cameroonian musicians to experiment with it, fearing the inevitable commercial failure and social criticisms they would face daily. As a result, it was difficult to mention any rock music scene in Cameroon because most of the bands who played it were mostly anonymous bands, who made occasional covers in their garage but were not allowed to perform during concerts and popular shows, trusted mainly with afro-pop, bikutsi, makossa artists and sometimes urban music.
But things changed a bit sometimes with time. The milestone of the relative construction and democratization of a local scene came in 2011 with the creation of ANOTHER LIGHT (ANLI), a nonprofit association created by rock lovers, that aimed to build a strong rock community with both fans and artists and to promote rock music among the masses. Many initiatives were taken on behalf the association like the ANLIFEST, a yearly festival dedicated to celebrate rock music, that helped to promote talented Cameroonian rock and metal bands, attracted music lovers, rock fans and even curious buddies stranger to rock and metal. People attended discovered local bands such as Dreamfast, a prog metal band; Roar of the Heroes, a symphonic and gothic metal band; Pioneers and WANA-B, both alternative rock acts.
Following the appeal of this festival, many other shows were planned and are still organized with the same purpose. The Festirock, an idea of Arthur Himmins, the leader of the aforementioned band Pioneers, will hold his third edition on February with the band Pioneers and WANA-B among others. And fortunately, the development of internet and social medias has eased communication around those bands and the smaller one.
Moreover, these bands are sometimes performing afro tinged covers and acoustic reprises in local cabaret, restaurants and even cultural institutes to appeal to people and widespread their music (ask to the acoustic rock band Isabella). Something that was very rare back in times. Roar of Heroes even released an EP called The Obsessive Imposter, a great achievement for an independent band in the context depicted before. (Yeah, they are important enough to have a small section at the top of the google results J).
In conclusion, the Cameroonian rock and metal scene is definitely burgeoning and active with a relatively large and loyal community and fan base. There’s still a long way to go to expand and consolidate those modest but noticeable achievements but when we take in consideration the hurdles faced generally by musicians in Cameroon (lack of funds, lack of communication, piracy…) and particularly rock ones, there’s definitely reason to be optimistic about the future of rock music in Cameroon.
My name is Le Jay Moqueur from Cameroon. A condescending geek who loves playing Mario games while listening to crude garage rock mainly deals with reddit for hobbies and LinkedIn for work.
Support your local scene \m/