A few months ago, Nigerian Singer Tekno revealed in an interview that he was paid $110,000 to perform two shows in Cameroon, a far cry from what was reportedly paid his Cameroonian counterparts for the same Johnny Walker sponsored show.
That particular revelation left a sour taste in the mouth of Cameroonian many music lovers.
After winning an Award for the best Cameroonian entertainment promoter in the diaspora at the CEEA (Cameroon Eleganza Entertainment Awards) in 2015, I talked to a few showbiz executives on how to further promote the Cameroon sound, not only in the diaspora, but also in Cameroon. On one of those consultations, I met a popular Nigerian producer who has been in Cameroon several times, and he said and I quote “The practice of playing more foreign songs at the expense of Cameroonian songs hinders the growth of your musical identity.” Since I share his sentiments, I also set out to advocate for DJ’s and other stakeholders to play and give more attention to Cameroonian music than they give to foreign music, especially Nigerian songs.
I therefore made myself an unofficial ambassador of Cameroonian music. What I intend doing was that, whenever I went out, I will encourage DJs to help elevate the Cameroonian music industry by giving more play time to Cameroonian songs. I sent songs to a few foreign DJ’s I know and they didn’t mind playing the songs but when it came to the Cameroonian DJ’s, it was a constant tussle. I remember Sean Kingston vibing to ‘La Sauce’ by Reniss when I played him the song When I am asked to DJ an event involving Cameroonians, I quickly realized that they mostly wanted Nigerian songs. One host even told me “We no want that Cameroon craze for here”
Taylor Swift may be the world’s No. 1-selling artist, but she might have a hard time getting airplay in some countries. In South Africa, 55 percent of the content on radio stations as well as community and public TV has to be local. Nigeria has a law that more than 70 percent of the music played on radio must be by local artists.
Kenyan artists want Kenya to do the same. Musicians there are pushing for a law that would force Kenyan radio stations to devote 70 percent of their playlists to Kenyan music (and 70 percent of TV programming to Kenyan films).
Cameroonian DJs are playing Nigerian songs. Cameroonian bloggers are blogging about Nigerian artistes and their songs. Event organizers in Cameroon are paying huge sums of money to Nigerian artistes to headline concerts in Cameroon. Cameroonian artists are singing and rapping like Nigerians. Who should be blamed? I’m against banning of Nigerian or foreign songs in Cameroon but the fact that Cameroon songs play second fiddle to these foreign songs right here in Cameroon is not right. In a bid to give listeners what they want, radio station owners, DJs and radio presenters just pay more attention to Nigerian songs. A DJ can play 10 Nigerian songs, 10 Congolese songs and cut in with just a song from Cameroon. This should not be tolerated in Cameroon.
Some of these radio station owners, DJs and radio presenters argue that, local songs are substandard hence why they do not play them. However, are we saying that all Cameroonian songs are of bad quality and all foreign songs are good?
Also, television stations play these Nigerian songs on air free of charge, yet expect Cameroonian artistes to pay before theirs are played.
As if not enough, this trend does not stop at the radio and television stations, even when one makes his way to pubs or nightclubs, they are met with the same trend. Are Ghanaians not the owners of these facilities that give more attention to foreign songs? Who should be blamed? There are several areas that, Cameroon trail Nigeria. So far as music is concerned, Cameroon is trailing Nigeria by several miles in terms of promotion, marketing and patronage but what accounted for all that? The Nigerian policy of 70/30 should be applied in Cameroon. It can help to keep foreign songs at bay for the benefit of Cameroonian songs. I do not see the reason why songs from both countries should compete for the same slots in Cameroon.
For now, the question is who is to be blamed?