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Infos: Mbolé, the soundtrack to life, and death, in Cameroon

Beneath the media success, mbole remains a versatile form of expression and is still very much rooted in poor neighbourhoods   –   Copyright © africanews DANIEL BELOUMOU OLOMO/AFP or licensors By Africanews with AFP Last updated: 4 hours ago Cameroon It began as a form of music chanted at wakes to comfort mourners — now it

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Infos: Mbolé, the soundtrack to life, and death, in Cameroon
Beneath the media success, mbole remains a versatile form of expression and is still very much rooted in poor neighbourhoods   –  

Copyright © africanews

DANIEL BELOUMOU OLOMO/AFP or licensors

Cameroon

It began as a form of music chanted at wakes to comfort mourners — now it is part of Cameroon's cultural mainstream, and a powerful form of expression for its frustrated youth.

Mbole developed around a quarter of a century ago in poor districts of Yaounde, the central African nation's capital.

It began as a sort of back-and-forth at funeral vigils between a chanter, who would devise lyrics and sing them, and “responders,” who sang the lyrics back and provided rhythm using buckets, saucepans or other implements.

“You would invite people around, you formed a circle, and you started to play to keep people entertained,” said Etienne Koumato, a 24-year-old biology student who performs in a mbole group called League des Premiers and is signed to a specialist record label.

“At the start, mbole was stigmatised – people looked on it as gutter music, like rap,” he said.

“But beneath the image, it was adaptable and it won people over.”

Mbole spread to weddings and baptisms and other ceremonies, progressively becoming more sophisticated as instruments such as keyboards and the big West African drum, the djembe, were brought in.

Around six years ago, mbole started to go mainstream, and it is now feted as a national music genre.

“There's no TV or radio station which doesn't have mbole,” said Yannick Mindja, who has made a documentary on the music's rise.

“We had Afro-beat, which came from Nigeria, but when you listen to mbole, you hear all the sounds of Cameroon,” he said, pointing to traditional music forms called bend skin, makossa and bikutsi.

“Mbole is the grandson of bikutsi and the nephew of makossa, but when you hear it, you feel immediately Cameroonian,” said Lionel Malongo Belinga, who performs under the name of Petit Malo.

Neighbourhood roots

Beneath the media success, mbole remains a versatile form of expression and is still very much rooted in poor neighbourhoods.

Poverty, drugs and insecurity are recurrent themes among its young performers, some of whom have almost iconic status in their neighbourhoods.

In 2016, Petit Malo recorded his first mbole hit, “Dans mon kwatta” ('In My Neighbourhood'), which depicted life in Nkoldongo, a rundown area of Yaounde.

The district is a warren where wastewater runs in rivulets down the narrow unpaved streets.

Many homes have no door but just a cloth to cover their entrance, hanging above some shoes, showing that people live there.

The sound of voices and the djembe bring neighbourhood youngsters running.

“Petit Malo is a good singer,” said Herman Sone, a 15-year-old fan. “He sings about peace and hope, and lots of good things.”

Female singers are also shouldering their way into a genre that “is still very male-oriented,” said Jeanne Manga, 29, who, as performer Jay-Ni, has set up a girls-only mbole group.

Mbole is a fine vehicle for denouncing sexism, she said.

“In my lyrics, I talk for instance about men who invite women out and then expect sexual favours in return,” she said. “We are not targets, and mbole gives us the chance to say so.”

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              Infos: Much of Africa less safe, democratic than in 2012 – Mo Ibrahim Foundation

              In this photograph taken Tuesday July 19, 2011 armed soldiers stage a night patrol at an isolated outpost in the Kruger National Park's Sabi River valley.   –   Copyright © africanews Denis Farrell/AP2011 By Rédaction Africanews and AP Last updated: 8 hours ago Sudan A new report on African governance released Wednesday (Jan. 25) finds much

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              Infos: Much of Africa less safe, democratic than in 2012 – Mo Ibrahim Foundation
              In this photograph taken Tuesday July 19, 2011 armed soldiers stage a night patrol at an isolated outpost in the Kruger National Park's Sabi River valley.   –  

              Copyright © africanews

              Denis Farrell/AP2011

              Sudan

              A new report on African governance released Wednesday (Jan. 25) finds much of the continent is “less safe, secure and democratic” than it was 10 years ago, citing a surge in military coups and armed conflicts.

              The democratic backsliding now threatens to reverse decades of progress made in Africa, according to an index of governance compiled by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation that notes 23 successful and attempted coups since 2012.

              “This phenomenon of coup d’etats that was common in the '80s seems to have become fashionable again in certain parts of Africa,” said Ibrahim, a British billionaire born in Sudan who is using his fortune to promote democracy and political accountability in Africa.

              His foundation's report cited eight successful coups just since 2019. Mali and neighboring Burkina Faso have seen two each during that time, further destabilizing a part of the world already under siege by Islamic militants.

              Pervasive security problems

              The report's authors also found overall security problems pervasive: Over the past decade, nearly 70% of Africans saw security and rule of law decrease in their countries, they said. More than 30 countries declined in this category, according to the index.

              South Sudan ranked at the bottom, followed by Somalia, Eritrea, Congo, Sudan, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Burundi, Libya and Equatorial Guinea.

              Government violence against civilians and political unrest increased across Africa since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the report says, with governments using restrictions to clamp down on dissent.

              “Although this trend predates the pandemic, existing antidemocratic tendencies have been accelerated by the introduction of restrictive measures and emergency provisions that have been left in place for an extended time period,” it said.

              The index did chart improvements in some economic, education and gender equity categories, Ibrahim said. However, the report only analyzed data through the end of 2021 so did not take into account the full impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

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                          Infos: Cameroon denies asking foreign mediation with separatists amid Canada’s claim

                          In this photo taken Friday, Oct. 5. 2018, people sit under campaign election posters of President Paul Biya, in Yaounde, Cameroon.   –   Copyright © africanews Sunday Alamba/Copyright 2018 The AP. All rights reserved. By Rédaction Africanews Last updated: 25/01 – 14:24 Cameroon's Anglophone Crisis The Cameroonian government has denied that it asked any country to

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                          Infos: Cameroon denies asking foreign mediation with separatists amid Canada’s claim
                          In this photo taken Friday, Oct. 5. 2018, people sit under campaign election posters of President Paul Biya, in Yaounde, Cameroon.   –  

                          Copyright © africanews

                          Sunday Alamba/Copyright 2018 The AP. All rights reserved.

                          Cameroon's Anglophone Crisis

                          The Cameroonian government has denied that it asked any country to mediate in its conflict with separatists trying to form a breakaway state called Ambazonia in its minority English-speaking regions. The latest comes after Canada last week said it had received a request to work on a peace process.

                          In a statement issued on Monday, Cameroon said it had “not entrusted any foreign country or external entity with any role of mediator or facilitator to settle the crisis”. 

                          In response, a spokesperson for the Anglophone separatists, said they had taken note of the government's latest statement while Ottawa on Tuesday said it was in touch with both sides in the conflict, maintaining that it’s statement still stands.

                          Since 2017, factions of secessionist militias have been battling government troops in the two English-speaking regions of Cameroon. 

                          The conflict with government troops has left at least 6000 people dead and nearly 800,000 people displaced according to the Canadian government.

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                                      Infos: CHAN: Cameroon and Mali make shock exits in Algeria

                                      Nigerien players celebrate win over Cameroon to reach CHAN 2022 quarters on Jan. 24, 2023.   –   Copyright © africanews @CAF By Rédaction Africanews and AFP Last updated: 2 hours ago Algeria Cameroon and Mali crashed out of the African Nations Championship (CHAN) on Tuesday (Jan. 24) as the group phase in Algeria came to a

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                                      Infos: CHAN: Cameroon and Mali make shock exits in Algeria
                                      Nigerien players celebrate win over Cameroon to reach CHAN 2022 quarters on Jan. 24, 2023.   –  

                                      Copyright © africanews

                                      @CAF

                                      Algeria

                                      Cameroon and Mali crashed out of the African Nations Championship (CHAN) on Tuesday (Jan. 24) as the group phase in Algeria came to a shock-riddled climax.

                                      Two-time runners-up Mali needed only a score draw against Mauritania to top Group D, but lost 1-0 with Mamadou Sy scoring the 53rd-minute goal that took his country to the quarter-finals.

                                      Cameroon, who hosted the previous edition and came fourth, also needed only one point to finish first in Group E, but fell 1-0 to Niger, who snatched top spot.

                                      The competition for footballers playing with clubs in their country of birth now takes a two-day break before the quarter-finals.

                                      On Friday (Jan.27), title favourites Algeria face the Ivory Coast in Algiers and Senegal meet west African neighbours Mauritania in Annaba.

                                      Madagascar play Mozambique in Constantine and Niger tackle two-time runners-up Ghana in Oran on Saturday (Jan. 28).

                                      None of the eight teams that made it to the quarterfinals in 2018, made it to the knockout stage this time.

                                      Bets are on

                                      None of the surviving teams have won the CHAN with Morocco and the Democratic Republic of Congo twice each and Tunisia and Libya lifting the trophy in the six previous tournaments.

                                      After Algeria and Senegal predictably topped Groups A and B last weekend, minnows have captured the headlines with Madagascar winning Group C on Monday.

                                      Before facing Mali, Mauritania had lost all six matches in two other appearances, and fought a goalless draw with Angola in Algeria last week.

                                      That automatically made them underdogs against Mali, whose proud CHAN record included reaching the 2016 and 2020 finals.

                                      But the Mauritanians never allowed the Malians to settle in the first match of a double-header in the western city of Oran and Sy outjumped Souleymane Coulibaly to nod the match-winner.

                                      Following a dour draw with Congo Brazzaville, Niger were given little chance of stopping Cameroon, who were watched by football federation president and former superstar Samuel Eto'o.

                                      Cameroon had looked likelier to score until the match was turned on its head in the 69th minute as an Ousseini Badamassi free-kick deflected off Thomas Bawak into the net.

                                      Needing an equaliser to survive, Cameroon lay siege to the Nigerien goalmouth, but several poorly-taken free-kicks summed up a night to forget for the central Africans.

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