Cameroon’s Government is committed to helping the country’s people at all levels. One of the most important aspects of anyone’s life is their economic welfare and much progress has been made in that area, however the Government is looking out for Cameroonians’ intellectual and spiritual wellbeing too.
The nation has a rich cultural heritage, and Culture Minister Ama Tutu Muna is in charge of promoting the country’s excellence in that area. The Minister is fully aware that encouraging the spread of cultural activities not only enriches people’s minds, it can also have positive benefits for their purses and wallets.
“Culture creates jobs at all levels; at the top there are huge industries, but it also involves people like hairdressers, carpenters and other types of workers,” she explains. “Culture can in the long run really be a development tool. It stimulates diversity as, for example, tourism does, because it involves a series of small and medium-sized industries.”
|‘CULTURE CAN BE A DEVELOPMENT TOOL; IT STIMULATES DIVERSITY AS IT INVOLVES A SERIES OF SMALL AND MEDIUM-SIZED INDUSTRIES’|
AMA TUTU MUNA,
Minister of Culture
Cameroon’s 20 million people speak 268 different languages, including English, French, Fulfulde and Ewando, and are divided into more than 200 different ethnic groups, among them the Bamileke, Fulani and Bassa. Together, the country’s many groups and languages provide a fertile ground for art and literature to flourish.
The country’s cultural offerings include a wide range of painting and sculpture, music, food and dance. The Ministry of Culture sponsors performances and exhibitions in the country and abroad. Recently the Cameroon National Ballet went on a 20-city tour of Japan, before going on to perform at the Shanghai Expo.
The Ministry also participates in a large number of traditional festivals in Cameroon, including the Festi Bikutsi, which promotes Bikutsi music and the Aboki Ngoma dance festival. Cameroonian artists attend festivals in other countries as well, such as the Ouagadougou Film Festival, the largest in Africa, and the Pan African Festival of Music in Brazzaville.
The Ministry does much more than just promote Cameroon’s culture: it is also deeply involved in the effort to protect artists’ intellectual property, fight against piracy and ensure that the creators of the art gain some of the monetary benefits they generate. The Government has a plan to fight the worst of the abuses. “We are working on a programme. We have identified the real problem; the source of this problem is really being able to manage distribution and production,” says Mrs Tutu Muna. “When you really consolidate them properly and you are able to stabilise them, then the artists can make money and they can also fight against piracy.”