zondag 13 september 2009

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

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