woensdag 30 september 2009

Wat me zo te binnen schoot

Deze zomer was ik in Afrika en niet in de Bijlmer. Bij terugkomst verbaasde ik me over alle schietincidenten en de beschuldigende vinger naar muziek. Alles kan worden samengevat: “Te veel vuurwapens bij te veel mensen met een te korte lont.” Niks nieuws onder de zon, alleen veel die het voor het eerst zien.

De hoofdcommissaris van de Amsterdamse politie dhr. Welten wees naar de vele You Tube filmpjes van gansta rap artiesten. Ophef over dat Hip Hop c.q. Rap muziek in verband wordt gebracht met het huidige vuurwapengeweld volgde. Muziek wordt weer eens zwart gemaakt door politici en gezagsdragers om witte voetjes te halen. Het is een beproefd middel. Lees het boek van Rudie Kagie: 'De Verboden Saxofoon' bijvoorbeeld.

Zuidoost Stadsdeel voorzitter mevr. Elvira Sweet wist niet dat de uitdrukking ‘G’ voor gangster (crimineel) stond. Zou ze wel weten dat 'op-pimpen' staat voor 'pimp'? In het Nederlands pooier: iemand die anderen seksuele dwangarbeid laten doen door hun wil te breken? Of te wel: pimp vertaalt zich als slavendrijver. Leuk als ze het nog eens heeft over het 'op-pimpen' van de Bijlmer.

Ik zat bij het gesprek dat drie journalisten van De Volkskrant hadden met de makers van www.FAQFiles.nl. Als de laatste naam wordt uitgesproken, komt de gedachten boven drijven dat er wat beter over de naam nagedacht had kunnen worden. Maar de teleurstelling komt bij het lezen van het artikel op zaterdag 5 september in De Volkskrant.

Een grote foto van rapper Gikkels op de linker pagina. Op de rechter pagina, een grote foto van de aanslag in Apeldoorn: geschrokken agenten houden hun hand op hun vuurwapen, klaar voor gebruik. Het artikel bij Gikkels ‘Geweld is een feit, rap is ons antwoord’ begint met het advies voor Welten om te kijken naar de pornografische video ‘Vieze Meid’ van Kiddo Cee. Het verband tussen lead en inhoud van het artikel ontgaat mij even. Tot het ‘oh-’tuurlijk’ moment: sex en geweld verkoopt. Onthoud dat cliché.

Het verbaast me allemaal. Ik word aangeschoten door meerdere partijen om er iets over te zeggen. Als oude Hip Hopper uit de Bijlmer zou ik toch goed moeten kunnen vertellen hoe het allemaal zit. Ik wordt er helemaal kriebelig van. Er is namelijk niks nieuws onder de zon, er zijn alleen veel mensen die het voor het eerst zien. Het zelfde oude liedje.

Hip Hop is ontstaan in de ghetto’s van Amerika. Het geeft wereldwijd de stemloze een stem en een manier om gevoelens te kunnen uitten. Ook in Nederland. En de stemloze wonen niet in de rijke 'nette' buurten.

Geto Boys/War- The World is a ghetto:
“Think I’m lying? Mother fucker I got proof
Name me a section in your city where minorities grew
and I’ma show you prostitutes, dope and hard times
and a murder rate that never declines
little babies sitting on the porch, smelly smelly
crying because they ain’t got food in their bellies
they call my neightborhood a jungle
and me an animal…”

Hip Hop is een muziek cultuur van de straat en gangsta rap is daar een onderdeel van. Op straat gebeurt wat er in de samenleving gebeurt. Vele willen dat graag op straat houden. Maar met Hip Hop muziek heeft de straat een kanaal gevonden om ook binnen te kunnen komen in de huiskamers achter de gesloten deuren. You Tube is een versterker met ongekende impact. Hip Hop is een dialoog waarin je vaak tegen wordt gesproken. En ja dat is dus in je smoel.

Er kan hoog en laag, links om of rechts om worden gefilosofeerd en gediscussieerd over hoe armoede ontstaat en wie nou schuldig is aan wat. Als de Grachtengordel niet zoveel poeder zou snuiven dan was er veel minder drugsgeweld in Zuidoost. Als de Grachtengordel niet zo gierig was geweest dan was de huidige crisis niet zo pijnlijk. Als er zoveel woede is over de toegangspoortjes van de Metro, ga dan toch fietsen. Waarom mogen we wel kinderen vermoorden in Afghanistan maar is het een ramp als het in ons eigen land gebeurt? Het is meten met twee maten. Als… zo gaat het maar door.

Als alle betrokkenen zich nou zouden richten op de volkswijsheden:
"De mens is een een gewelddadig beestje."
"De mens is een kudde dier."
"Monkey see, monkey do."

Ja, en waarom wordt er dan niet gekeken naar al het goede dat uit de ghetto’s groeide: Blues, Jazz, Rock n Roll, Rhythm and Blues, Soul, Funk en Hip Hop? Omdat sex en geweld verkoopt. Goed nieuws is geen nieuws. En geen nieuws is een dooddoener in de nieuws industrie.

Tupac Shakur - The rose that grew from concrete
“Did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack
in the concrete
Proving nature’s laws wrong it learned 2 walk
without having feet
Funny it seems but by keeping its dreams
it learned 2 breathe fresh air
Long live the rose that grew from concrete
when no one else even cared!”

Hip Hop is echt. Het reflecteert wat er gebeurt in onze samenleving inclusief al de fakeness. Al het lelijke en al het mooie. Willen Elvira Sweet en Welten iets doen aan Hip Hop, maak dan de samenleving mooier.

Auke VanderHoek

Luister ook eens naar:
Boogie Down Productions - Neccessary


dinsdag 29 september 2009

Eerlijke radio vergeleken: Giel Beelen vs Metz

Giel Beelen is één van de meest opvallende presentatoren van de radiozender 3FM. De presentator staat bekend om zijn ‘shockradio’. Het laatste nieuws feit, dat de rapper Metz Giel Beelen bedreigde, komt in een geheel ander dag licht te staan als de drie video versies van het incident worden bekeken.

Metz was op bezoek in de live uitzending van Giel Beelen. Volgens Metz was hij daar op uitnodiging van de presentator om over zijn jongeren project te praten. Metz mag zijn verhaal doen. Maar Giel Beelen behandelt Metz op een respectloze manier en maakt bijtende grappen over de rapper live op de radio. De rapper blijft beleefd. Zichtbaar verrast zegt hij teleurgesteld te zijn in het gedrag van Giel Beelen. Als hij echter doorgaat met zijn bijtende opmerkingen reageert de rapper boos. En maakt een bedreiging. Gooit een koptelefoon tegen Giel, die antwoordt met o.a. "Het is toch allemaal behoorlijk stereotype dit." Waardoor Metz nog bozer wordt. En Giel met komische noot opmerkt: "Ik pak mijn gun er bij."

De video van 3FM die de landelijke nieuws haalde laat alleen zien dat Metz Giel Beelen bedreigt. Alles is ook vastgelegd op video door een vriend van de rapper. Beide versies staan op You Tube en op State Magazine. Iedereen kan via internet zelf de twee kanten van het verhaal controleren en vergelijken. Raadzaam om ook de gehele derde versie te bekijken waarin 3FM bijna niet in heeft ge-edit.

De biografie van Giel Beelen op www.3FM.nl: “Eigenaardigheden: Altijd eerlijk.” En dat hij een voorliefde heeft voor spraakmakende, eerlijke radio en daardoor: “…verslijt hij heel wat omroepen.”

De relatie tussen de witte industrie en zwarte muziek is altijd zeer moeizaam geweest. Zodra de rapper Metz en zijn vrienden de studio binnen lopen maakt Giel Beelen drie opmerkingen: "Ik heb mijn horloge al afgedaan", "Ooh, het zijn echt rappers." en "Ze hebben ook nog een camera gestolen ergens." Eén van zijn gasten heeft nog niet begrepen wat Giel zei en vraagt hem vriendelijk: "What up Giel?" Giel Beelen geeft zijn gasten weer als dieven aan zijn luisteraars.

Voor de huidige dertigjarige Hip Hop cultuur is het niet anders. Hip Hop is in tegenstelling tot de andere muziek culturen duidelijker in haar boodschap. Door de rap is er veel meer ruimte om iets te vertellen. De haat liefde relatie tussen Hip Hop en de radio industrie is vaak besproken door rappers. En laat nog geen sporen van slijtage zien.

Vergelijk de twee versies op You Tube of State Magazine:

Link versie 3FM:
Hier onder een aantal links naar Hip Hop nummers over de relatie met de radio industrie uit de oude doos:




Auke VanderHoek

zaterdag 26 september 2009

Cameraman attacked by police officers in courthouse

(JED/IFEX) - On 17 September 2009, "Canal International" cameraman Freddy Nkoue was attacked and beaten in the Douala courthouse by two police officers named Ndingie and Nyonga. Nkoue was at the courthouse to cover a trial involving leaders of two opposing factions of the Union of the Peoples of Cameroon (UPC), a political party. "Canal International" is a private television station based in Douala, the second largest city in Cameroon.

Contacted by JED, Nkoue said he had placed his camera's tripod in the courthouse while awaiting the return of the journalist who had gone to ask the authorities' permission to cover the trial. He was approached by two police officers who ordered him to stop filming and began to beat him. Nkoue's camera was damaged, his clothes torn and his belongings were taken away by police. He managed to escape bare-chested with a fractured left hand.

Asked about the motive for the attack, Nkou said he had not filmed the police officers or the courthouse building before receiving official authorisation to do so.

SOURCE:
B.P. 633 - Kinshasa 1
374, av. Col. Mondjiba
Complexe Utexafrica, Galerie St Pierre, 1er niveau, Local 18 Kinshasa/Ngaliema
République Démocratique du Congo
direction (@) jed-afcentre.org
Phone: +243 81 99 29 323
Fax: +44 20 7900 3413

donderdag 24 september 2009

Internet fraud: 419 crimes

The Vanguard, Amsterdam. You heard of it. Maybe you’re involved in it. Nigerians are infamous for it. And a lot who see it happen have a laugh about it. Worldwide the business of internet fraud is know as ‘419 Scams’. Named after the article in the Nigerian law.

The potential victim is told that money needs to be saved on a bank account. And for any given reason his or her help is needed. If the potential victim is willing to lent the account information to store the money. He or she is promised a percentage as a reward. As the receiver of the invitation opens his bank account to the sender, instead of depositing the promised money, all money possible is withdrawn. The invitations are mostly sent by e-mail.


The number ‘419’ refers to the article of the Nigerian Criminal Code dealing with fraud, part of Chapter 38: ‘Obtaining Property by false pretenses; Cheating’. In the early 1980’s the decline of oil income in Nigeria triggered unemployed university students to find a way to cheated foreign businessmen. Who were looking for some quick money themselves. “Love makes blind”, goes the phrase. The scammers use the love for money as a bait. A greedy man can always be thrust on being greedy.


First the businessmen in Nigeria were targeted. The international markets followed. Mail was sent to addresses abroad. The internet made the scam more easy. More and more people tried their luck in the many internet cafe’s. Easy access to the internet and techniques results in more potential victims. Many of them are easily be fooled. Making it a very profitable business.

‘419 Scams’ originated from Nigeria. Studies show that, these days, the lion share is sent from Amsterdam Southeast, The Netherlands. Where the Nigerian crimes networks have strong bases. The biggest target groups for ‘419 scams’ are in the United States and Great Britain. One of the reasons is the same language: English. And because results proof the people of the two countries are easy targets.

In Amsterdam, where every household has internet, the scams are a running joke. “Amazed by ‘how stupid people must be to get fooled by theses e-mails”, says the internet specialist who made the software for the Nigerian Stock Exchange. Victims hardly get any sympathy when they confess they took the bait. One of the reasons seldom a victim speaks about it.

Last week The Vanguard’s International Desk in Amsterdam received a typical ‘419 Scam’ invitation e-mail. We publish the letter here:

“Attention,

How are you ,i hope all is well with you , well i am happy to inform you that i am successful to move the fund to Greece with the help of my new partner MRS. STEPHEN LAWRENCE who help me to receive the fund in her position right now i am presently in Greece for an investment with my own share , mean while i do not forget all your past effort and money spent in that time,now i decided to compensate you with the sum of $850.000.00 usd in a bank draft left behind with my secretary as i told you in my last email to you.now you have to contact her on her contacts info below

Names == MRS.FATIMA ABUBAKAR
Email== fatimajudith2000@yahoo.com

Ask her to send it to you on your delivery address which you will send to her, note that i have instructed her on what to do the only thing you have to do is to contact her now and forward to her your contact address /your cell number which she will use to contact you. once again am very happy to archive my aim.


Best regards
FRANK WILLIAMS”

By Auke VanderHoek
The Vanguard - International Desk Amsterdam

vrijdag 18 september 2009

Dance With Kings 2009

African diaspora, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 12 september. Ghana’s community in The Netherlands celebrate their cultural heritage with the annual Dance With Kings festival in Amsterdam. Honoring Ghana’s royalties living in Europe en the kings and queens who came over from Ghana. The festival takes place on the square named after the Surinam-Dutch freedom fighter Anton de Kom. His statute stands tall above all the gathered audiences and royalties. This edition pays tribute to the relationship between Ghana, Surinam and The Netherlands. And welcomes former president of Ghana Jerry John Rawlings as special guest.

From the brand new local swimming pool building the royalties from Ghana parade to their seats. King’s men and queen’s women escort their masters with golden decorated parasols. They all wear colorful traditional dresses that suits the hot summer weather. The royalties wear a lot of golden jewelry to display their wealth. Traditional greetings welcome the royalties one by one. The public becomes even more enthusiastic when the former President of Ghana Jerry John Rawlings arrives. He makes a round over the square greeting all the audience who hardly can see him, a dozen photo and camera men surrounding him. Finally taking a seat on the VIP stand opposite of the stand with the traditional rulers.


A traditional prayer opens the ceremonies, as the host explains: “Before the Europeans came we had our own ways to pray to the same God.” The arrival of the Europeans is also the start of the special relation ship between Ghana’s, Dutch’s and Surinam’s communities. Many traditional dressed women wear the Dutch or Surinam colors. One woman wears a dress made for the occasion: “Symbolic for one people all over Holland. A dress with the national colors of Ghana, The Netherlands and Surinam.” One of the kings thanks al the audience for their interested in Ghana’s culture and says feels sad that five kings could not come because the Dutch embassy in Accra refused the visa. The president of the Amsterdam Southeast city counsel. Mrs Elvira Sweet makes a enthusiastic welcome speech but receives a poor applause.

Ghana, Suriname and The Netherlands have a relationship that started for more than 400 years ago. The ancestors of the kings and queens are the ones who started wars out of financial gain. Captured enemies and sold them as slaves. The Dutch ancestors, transported them to the colonies on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Tame the prisoned Africans by braking the spirits and destroying their cultural consciences forcing them into obedient slaves. The most slaves had to work till they dropped dead. And where easily replaced with new stock brought in from the African continent.


The steps to the higher road form a big stand where the audience have a clear view. In between them the statute of Anton de Kom. He was the son of a man born in slavery, became political involved and sent into exile from his native Suriname by the Dutch colonial authorities. In The Netherlands he wrote his book ‘We Slaves of Surinam’. During the Germans occupation in the Second World War he joined the Dutch resistance. He was captured and sent into forced labor and died of TBC in a concentration camp in Germany in 1944.

Ghana was known as the Gold Coast and the profits of the trade made the rise of the powerful Asanta kingdom possible. The Dutch sailed away with huge profits and celebrate this period in their history as The Dutch Republic’s Golden Century. For the many victims of the trade, this history’s heritage still effects the daily life of their descendants.

Text and photo's by: Auke VanderHoek

Dag van 100 culturen



zondag 13 september 2009

In search of Hip Hop in Cameroon: Sssst… don’t rock the boat, part I (part II till IV, scroll down)


“Sssst… don’t rock the boat”, well that was the idea while being in Cameroon as a journalist on family visit. Cameroon is a central African country. An uncomfortable union between the English speaking Southern Cameroon and the French speaking Cameroun into the Republic de Cameroun. Under the 27 year long rule of Paul Biya the country failed to move up in the ladder of economic and social development. In the past and present day, free-opinion and free-press are two key ideas that do not mix in one sentence without comprehending ‘troublesome’. Thus dangerous territory for me, knowing my own character too well: speaking honestly, asking the right questions at the wrong times, to take a stand and to speak out… I promised myself to keep my focus on writing about music. To be specific to write about Hip Hop culture. It’s a safe subject, at least it looks safe on the surface. A nice cover to keep myself out of the political sensitive subjects and therefor out of trouble.

Instead

To study a ‘music-scene’ still allows anybody to have a closer look in the economic, social and political landscape of any country. Especially if it’s Hip Hop: the most outspoken, rebellious and biggest musical culture in the age of modern society. But I have to confess: I failed totally. I did not write about Hip Hop and the Cameroonian youth embracing the global culture and what they do with it on a local level. Instead I rocked the boat. I ran into floods, landslides, mismanagement, corruption and police brutality. And run into people afraid to say out loud what they said in private. Instead of being subtle and silently, I was outspoken: honestly loud, asking questions and taking stands. Attacking the ‘powers-that-be’ in which my own father in law is a big player. Call it a talent.

Other side of the story

Maybe that’s the whole idea of Hip Hop music, it never was meant to be a gentle nice background middle of the road something. Hip Hop is the way to rebel, to protest and to claim the place in society for those oppressed by main stream culture. Hip Hop is the voice of the multi cultural youth. A music culture that grew from the ghetto’s of New York, America. Where it enabled the black-hispanic-and-white-trash inner city youth of the 1970-’80 to express themselves. Giving them a total own way to rebel against the all white ‘be white, be rich, if not: keep your mouth shut!’ capitalistic Reagan-age dominance. To put a bit of context: wasn’t it Reagan and Thatcher that considered Nelson Mandela as a terrorist and tried to get rid of him? And was it not al-Gaddafi who welcomed the ANC training camps on Libyan grounds? So the people of South Africa could successfully overthrow a racist oppressive regime supported by the west? For me and many others around the world, Hip Hop music told me the other side of the story. It taught me what really was going on in the world.

Made the oppressed to be heard

The front leader of the most revolutionary group ever, Public Enemy, stated: “Hip Hop is the black CNN.” From New York, to L.A. to Rio and Amsterdam. To Johannesburg and Tokyo. Everywhere the multi-cultural youth worldwide had finally means to express them selves and rebel against the dominating mainstream oppressive culture. Hip Hop is the global culture that made the oppressed to be heard, on any local front. Demanding their space on this globe: ‘We are here and we are part of this world too!’ I sat with all the big American stars around the table during my career, as they often visit Amsterdam. Chatting about Africa’s heritage and its diaspora and about having family over there and here in the western world. Rose the question, how would this culture manifest itself in the Cameroon? Big artist go to Nigeria, Ghana, South-Africa. But how big is the chance hat the Cameroonian youth can see their idols perform live? This question triggered my quest: in search of Hip Hop in Cameroon, in Africa: the motherland.

Meet the music scene

On my search of youth in Bamenda and how they embraced the world wide Hip Hop culture in Cameroon, the biggest blockade was my family. As a respected adult from the middle/upper class I’m not supposed to go where the youngsters are. Where they play that ‘rough’ music, because - no serious - there is ‘witchcraft’ was one of the excuses. And a bunch of other reasons why not to go there where the sounds are calling for me. To illustrate, in the places we did visit, Dallas Cabaret and Ayaba Night Club my nephew and colleague George was ordered by my wife to bodyguard me when I needed to go pee. Maybe you can imagine that it was quite frustrating situation. “But, you’re white!”, “No shit, Sherlock?!” As a decent family in Africa we are ‘to good’ to be identified with the Hip Hop culture. No chance for me to meet the music scene. The two times that we stayed in the Ayaba Hotel (out of the house) and thus could be in the hotel’s nightclub and Dallas Cabaret… we had fun, but the music at Ayaba was boring.

Once I heard

It was easier for me to explain that there is crime in Amsterdam too, no really there is, than getting into a place where they played Hip Hop and RnB. There are more remarkable images of the ‘white men’s countries’. Once I heard a man stating seriously, with firm believe, he wanted to make it into Europe because: “In Europe the government throws money on the street at night. The one who gets up early enough is rich!” I gave up my effort to tell him it’s slightly different. That the western world can be a lot of fun if you’re originated from the right backgrounds and are successful. But it easily turns to be straight hell to many who can’t live up with the rat race. While joking that I really need to get myself directions to the mentioned street - it’s worth the money - I only could answer him: “So you have been told that the streets of London are paved with gold.” Made me wonder if it was really possible that people could be that naive. Better said, be that stupid. Luckily I spent my time with enough other people with whom it was a pleasure and an enrichment of the mind. But sadly, I could not go out to see the local Hip Hop scene. It is definitely somewhere, out there. But for now, I couldn’t find it.

Auke VanderHoek

In search of Hip Hop in Cameroon: Bamenda… locked indoors, part II


I became a bit frustrated, not being able to dwell on the streets of Cameroon to find the music that makes this nation groove. After a day’s work, I sat down in the compound. The nephews and nieces where running around the yard to do the household stuff. Dishes, cooking in the fire kitchen, washing the clothes of the family. While they are ordered around with work to do for the coming hour, I’m ordered to go indoors because of the dangers of thieves, by my mother in law.

“Go indoors. Cameroon is very dangerous.”
“If you are so worried about safety, should the kids not go in?”
“No they still have to do the work. The thieves here, do kill. You have to go in.”
“They will kill me, but not harm the kids? You’re more worried about my safety than the well being of the kids. Because I’m white. Sounds like racism to me.”
“Yes, because your white…”

Around the yard

I tried to force some brains into spinning with a couple of arguments. It was a hopeless case, all was gridlocked. If thieves really want to get to me, they will succeed. No question about it. I only will put up a fight if I have a clear chance to win. I rather defend myself by anticipating any threat. Anything a thieve can get from me, he can get it without being it fatal to my livelihood. My computer is worthless if you don’t have the pass codes and do not know how to use the software. My camera is useless if you don’t know how to operate it. Trust me, without a manual, no thieve will be able to sell it off or use any of my equipment. So it isn’t profitable to steal it. Next to it, if all gets stolen, all is insured. And if it’s stolen, hopefully in will benefit a talent who lacks the means.

If you can’t get in, you can’t get out

Locking myself up behind gates and iron bars like everybody does in Cameroon. My mom in law points out that we are living in a very safe house. “Nobody can get in. Big walls with glass on top around the compound. Heavy duty iron doors with locks.” Overlooking the fact that the roof is made out of a light wooden frame with a thin roof and a ceiling of plaister. The fortification of houses frightens me. “If you can’t get in, you cant’ get out, it’s a cage,” I answer. Luckily thieves never came up with the idea how to open up these houses and force the occupiers to run out of the house looking for safety with everything any thieve wants to have on a silver platter in ten seconds flat. Good thing criminals are not the brightest minds running around. Let us not sparkle their creativity and skills to be more anticipative and tell them how to make a Molotov cocktail.

Simple by chance

To put it simple: the chance that I get killed in a traffic accident are way bigger than the chance I will get hurt by a thieve. Still anybody here moves around like there is no chance at all they become involved in a car crash. Why use a seat belt? Why temper your speed? Why can’t you drink and drive? If you see a crash coming you brace yourself, or don’t you? But what if somebody surprises me with climbing over the wall, jumping down from it, running up to me and putting a gun to my head? It will really surprise me and catch me off guard? To put some perspective to it. In the six weeks I was in Cameroon there where more shootings, and people getting killed in my own neighborhood in Amsterdam Southeast, The Netherlands, than in whole Cameroon. So where is it more dangerous? Enfin. I rest my case.

I’m bound to the house where I’m staying as a guest and should not question my parents in law’s authority. So after eight ‘o clock, lock down. In search of Hip Hop I have to look for possible sources very close to me. What’s direct next to me? Three beautiful, lively quick minded an sharp mouthed 18 year old nieces: Small-Quinta, Kadoh and Adin. I found Hip Hop in Cameroon. Now I needed to find time to have a conversation with them.

Auke VanderHoek

In Search of Hip Hop in Cameroon: the youth is the future, part III


The kids around me are the closest way I will get to Hip Hop in Cameroon. As I and my wife are not allowed to be out on the streets at night to check out the places where they play Hip Hop music. We are bound to the rules of the house in which we are staying and to the ways of the family.

Voice of the youth

The kids around the compound are the youth, the spirit, the future of this country. Beautiful beings with a great sense of humor. They are the ones who have to take it over from us, the adults. Music is the primary voice of the youth in any culture, it gives the means for expression. To rebel against their parents and authority in a safe way and to find their place in society. Youth is the time where a spirit can grow strong, get experienced and fill up with ideas. It’s the time to discover what makes each unique and develop God’s given talents. To get prepared on adult life. Well that is, as long as the youth is given the time to be youthful.

Requests are conflicting

For the nieces and nephews around me who are living in this house and not at home with their own parents, to have some time for themselves, it is totally depending if they are allowed to have any time at all. They are ordered around 24/7: “Do this. Do that.” And “Shut your mouth!”, is what they hear if they want to point out when requests are conflicting. Each has to help and do its bit in the family duties, no problem. To my surprise and pure anger, they were ordered around me where ordered to do things that easily could be done by those ordering. The kids are totally depending for food, shelter and school fees because their parents are dead, can’t or are just not willing to take care. The children are wise enough not to stand up and speak out against those who do take care.

I had a fierce fight with my direct family when I stood up for my niece Cynthia. She was exhausted after a day’s hard work, falling a sleep on the spot, but still was ordered around to put the water on the fire and get the pepper out of the fridge. My question if the hands of those ordering are limb or something, got answered that doing physical work from seven in the morning to eight at night without a brake is not as hard as working with your head in an office job. I took up the fight because I could not stand it to say nothing about it. Cynthia was to afraid to say she was, obvious, too tired to do anything. The tiredness and fear was clear to see in her eyes for any one interested to have a look what was going on. If my fight made a difference, I do not know. Sadly, the way these youngsters are treated it also trains them to be depending, to follow orders and stay with the status quo. And not to think for themselves, not to show leadership, not to push forward and not to break through. It breaks their spirit and their will. Is that how we want to train our youth or not?

Music gives a voice

Music gives a voice, peace of mind, a way to express themselves, a place to find refugee in time when the sorrows of becoming an adult, are just too much. A place where they can figure out what they would do better when it’s their turn to lead. Sitting down on the concrete in front of the brown fire kitchen and red walls with my three nieces: Adin, Kadoh and Small-Quinta. What kind of music do they like? “We love Hip Hop and RnB”, they answer. They heard of some names like Jay Z and Snoop Dogg. Totally hot is P-Square from Nigeria. They like to listen. They like to dance. They have the moves. They like the romance. And are sorrowed with the questions if their boy friends really love them or is it just for the sex? And what will life bring when they are grown up? They have humor and spirit and do run around if they get away with it. It gives so much energy witnessing them having fun. Listening to music gives them an escape into their dreams. Out of reality where whatever they do, they always get the blame.

Just could listen

Sometimes they disappear. The adults think they run out of the house without telling anybody, or keep on wondering what takes them so long. They are just around the corner. To have some time for their own, a minute to put there head at ease, only happens when they steal the time and are dead silence. Then they finally have a moment to themselves. If somebody just could listen to them… There is only one adult, Brenda who lives next door, who really listens and gives good advise. “Yes, she really listens. And you… but you’re only around once in the three years. We can speak about love, romance and about boys with her.” Talking freely is difficult, it goes with a lot of giggling. Well, they are girls…. Not used to speak about their world to an adult. Let alone to an adult family member. They appreciate the time, the ease and the chat. Just sitting with them, putting an ear to them and chatting. It’s a moment in paradise. Only to be rude awaken when the adults come storming in and demand all the attention. Gone are the smiles. The shouting, ordering and rushing begins. My search of Hip Hop and what it means continues…

Auke VanderHoek

In search of Hip Hop in Cameroon:
…food to eat, food for thought, part IV


While being in Cameroon I tried to find out how the youth in Cameroon embraced Hip Hop music. When I grew up my friends and I rocked the streets. The music gave us the power to express ourselves and to claim our place in society by force. The music told us what really was going on in the world. Hip Hop guided my friends and me into the wide world. Challenging us to question authorities, demanding for our own place in society, demanding to be listened to and most of all to widen our horizon. Hip Hop was for us the way to meet and understand other cultures.

Sharing stories

I try to take my nieces Kadoh, Adin and Small-Quinta around as much as possible. We have fun together, listening to music, making fun out of daily situations, gossiping, sharing stories and they like my driving even a lot more when there are no ‘responsible’ adults in the car. It’s speedy, quick, still safe but scarring the living daylight out of those suicidal motor-taxies. In short we have a lot of fun. To see them having fun is one of the best things in this world. But there is a sad story to be read on those faces. I wrote a non-fiction story three years ago, a witness report. While I washing up in the bathroom I heard something going on through the window.

My personal slave

Three years ago… “You’re my personal slave. You’re nothing! And you will never be something! Too stupid, too ugly! You’re good for nothing! Useless. Mine! You are my slave! I can do what ever I want to do as I please!” For ten minutes long it can be heard how my fifteen year old niece Small-Quinta is emotional broken by the one who is feeding her. Her own world, her self esteem, her self image is trashed into the red dirt, the same red dirt she has to sweep every morning and afternoon out of the house. Small-Quinta’s daily schedule is as follows: getting up early in the morning and start the household tasks. After that, putting on her school uniform and run to school. Breakfast will follow at diner time.

Her father? Is not there. Her mother? She’s there, regularly, arriving during the morning, way before noon while drinking a bottle of beer. The two women command the teenager up and down: “Get this!” and “Do that!” To prepare her on her own future, by letting her study or have time of her own, is of secondary importance. Most important is if ‘get this’ and ‘do that’ is done quickly enough. If she need to be ordered twice the shouting at her keeps her longer occupied than the original tasked would have done. She keeps on working till she’s the last one who can go to sleep. Her food is what is left in the evening. I discovered that, when I figured out why my wife was cooking more food for me than I ever could finish on my own.

The man of the house is cold and keeps his distance. He takes care of more children than he’s obligated to do so. To be ‘taken care of’ means the kids have to help in the household of those who do take care of them. As soon as family members become a bit more wealthy, children of family members are dropped on the doorstep and left in their care. Children of parents who lack the means or the will to do what parents should do in the first place: raising their children by means of feeding them, shelter them and most of all, let them known they are beloved. Like it’s an automatic system. The depending of a child on an adult makes it a very easy victim of abuse. For love, tenderness and care Small-Quinta doesn’t need to look up to her own parents. She receives care from the family that gives her shelter and food. Getting love, tenderness and the time and space to be a child? “She has food to eat, doesn’t she!”, shouts the lady master.

Before this niece there was an older niece, Sister Jane. Now she’s 23 years old and almost ready to leave the house and to stand on her own feet. During the drive back to town we have a chance to make a stop at the village where she was born. Tears come down her cheeks while she runs to and passionate braces her mother. After this, her mother holds her daughter by the wrist keeping her distance and asks: “What are you here for?”. An awkward and painful silence follows.

After the last assignments of the day Small-Quinta walks up to me, gives me a goodnight kiss and says: “Love you too, uncle Auke.” With exhausted eyes she looks at the little drawing we made together while helping her with her schoolwork. I made a castle on a cloud. She colored it.

That was three years ago. In that period of the eight past years, the head of the family besides taking care of Small-Quinta, took also care of an older niece, Sister Jane, and just took in a younger one: Cynthia. And took care of the nephews Voma and Willy. Willy has a job in the capital Yaounde. Voma is still looking for a job in Douala. George, Eric and Nelson are the newest edition of nephews. The sixth and oldest, Frederick, is living on his own by this time with his wife and baby in the next quarter and makes a living as a taxi driver.

The world I know

The famous American rapper from New York, Jay-Z: “There are more problems in the world, I know. But I first have to take care of the problems in the world I know”. Life is not easy, no where on this planet for the most of us. No matter the color is of your skin. It’s mostly depending what you make out of it, how many times you get on your feet again and partly it’s just plain luck. The most important thing we as adults can do, is to make sure that every child has a fair chance to make something out it’s life.To let them get to know the world they have to face in adult life. But most important, that a child can be a child, putting a smile on it’s face.

Food for thought

In my search I didn’t find Hip Hop in Cameroon how I thought I would find it. Navigate through a scene, meeting artists, business and fans. Checking out party and concerts. But obvious seeing and hearing the same old story in a new setting and a different context. But I did discover something I did not expect to find, maybe I comprehended for the first time what Hip Hop meant for me really. And that it’s not the question what I can put back into the Hip Hop culture, like giving back to the hand that fed me, but taking my Hip Hop heritage into action where it counts. Like transfer it into hands of the next person hungry to be feed. That is some food for thought, isn’t it? My father in law is an inspiration for me, in the way how to become rich too. To be serious focussed on earning as much money as I can make with my given talents. I couldn’t care less about money or any other material thing but if it means that it enables me to take care of as much children as possible, it all puts it in perspective, I want to have enough money to do so.

Hit where it counts

My wife doesn’t mind to live in Cameroon, “It’s my country, of course I would like to live there.” And I’m in love with Cameroon. The country is beautiful, adventurous and rich of opportunities. My nieces and nephews have a special place in my hart but how they where treated left scars on it. Why do I want to take care of kids in Cameroon? Is Cameroon worse than Amsterdam? No, not really. My wife and I already are welcoming some of my sons friends in a warm home if it’s too cold in their own. There are more horrible stories in Europe you can imagine. But in Cameroon our deeds have a greater impact and in general you have to hit where it counts the most. That’s why my wife and I must succeed in Cameroon. To get back to the origin of the idea to write a story about the search for Hip Hop in Cameroon: writing about music and not rocking the boat… For sure, I rocked the boat as it’s supposed to be in Hip Hop: rough, rugged and raw. And after this publication I’m in for some serious rough seas.

Auke VanderHoek

zondag 6 september 2009

On a black note…


Stomtoevallig tegen aangelopen bij het laten horen aan mijn zoontje wat een Doedelzak is, toen hij vroeg wat dat voor een woordje was in zijn boek van Roald Dahl's GVR. De moeite waard om notitie van te maken, lijkt me een understatement of the year.



Doe je ding ermee:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMF_24cQqT0

Auke