Socially: the program provides very entertaining and enriching alternatives to street gangs, drugs and prostitution. Read more

Economically: the program saves the city council huge amounts of money in terms of policing, drug, alcohol and other social rehabilitation programs and prison upkeep. Read more

Culturally: it enriches the city or country. Africa still remains a mystery to most people. Its culture is little known. Read more

Tourism: many cities and countries derive a huge chunk of their revenues from tourism. Read more

Health: the explosion of child obesity and other numerous health concerns tied to inactivity in North America provides a good reason for the introduction of these dances. Read more

My first encounter with Tamukung >>

The Agricultural Show was fast approaching, and even though I was still very young then, I, nevertheless, looked forward to the occasion with tremendous enthusiasm and anxiety. A few days before the event was to take place, with all the sites erected and most of the arrangements finalized, my uncle, and successor in my paternal family (so, in principle, my grandfather), Jing Ngwanueh, came to Ndop from Bamendankwe to register Tamukung to participate in the competition.

There are few people in my life for whom I have had the kind of admiration, attraction, and love I had for my uncle. With a height and vision reminiscent of a Charles De Gaulle or Ronald Reagan, intelligent, handsome and extremely soft spoken, he had something regal in his manners that often inspired great awe wherever he went. Another uncle of mine, Tamajong Ndumu, who enjoyed the enviable reputation of being Cameroon’s first civil engineer, confided to me at one time that there were few people whom he held in higher esteem than Jing Ngwanueh. Coming from a very scholarly, intelligent, incisive, deep and well-informed person, who had been a chartered engineer in England for years and had served as director of bridges and roads in the whole of Nigeria, it is a genuine measure of the greatness of this uncle-grandfather.

Of course, each time my beloved uncle paid us a visit in Ndop, there was a feast. He brought bread and other snacks that we cherished and a chicken was slaughtered and roasted for the occasion. So, when he came to Ndop on the run-up to the show and actually told me that Tamukong, a troupe for which he served as manager and cultural director, was a marvel to watch, I took that for gospel truth. And with great excitement and anxiety, I looked forward to the folk dance competitions.

Then on the eve of the Agricultural Show and cultural competitions, Tamukung troupe arrived in our compound in a mammy wagon, an old truck converted through the ingenuity of local carpenters and blacksmith into a kind of bus that usually plies bush roads. A huge hall used by members of the Bamendankwe community in Ndop for their weekly meetings and self-help financial contributions was set aside for members of the troupe. As soon as they alighted, they began to haul their dance outfits and musical instruments loaded in huge sacks to the hall. The sacks were so many that I began to wonder what could be in them. That was to remain a mystery until the next day.

In the evening, all the members of the troupe assembled in the hall for meals. Numerous chickens were slaughtered, roasted and chopped into keti (roasted chickens chopped into tiny bits and stirred in palm oil containing some spices) to go with huge mounds of steaming fufu (pap, ugali, eba). Palm wine flowed in great quantity and people ate, drank, and chatted gaily in anticipation of the competition the next day. Before midnight, on the instruction of my uncle, a teetotaller and heavy tea drinker, the crowd  dispersed. All members were instructed to be at the same venue the next day where they would get ready and head to the Agricultural Show ground for the competition.

I went to bed, but I could not sleep, waiting for the next day to come quickly. It came and the earlier part of it was spent focusing on events directly related to the Agriculture Show. I remember a friend of mine came calling, but I cannot still recollect the exact one. It might have been Martin Ntuh, or probably Eliasu, a short, stocky, and very strong fellow who was the son of Ba-Ali, a witchdoctor friend of my father. Together, we went to the ground. My parents and uncle had given me some money that I changed into several coins to appear rich and, dressed in gaily coloured African outfit, with a native hat jauntily tucked at the corner of my head, I felt like a king as we sauntered onto the ground. read more