Project for the preservation of cultural heritage: Digitalization of Cameroonian music

Hand-over ceremony of the digitization project of Cameroonian music archives from CRTV radio Enlarge image Ambassador Dr. Klaus-Ludwig Keferstein and CRTV General Manager Amadou Vamoulke cut the ribbon to unveil the interactive terminal (© Alexander Schuecke)

The Federal Republic of Germany is commited to  the preservation of universal cultural heritage within the framework of the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office. Between 1981 and 2010,  the Ministry has supported over 2350 projects in 142 countries. Their common point is that  they play an important role with regard to the cultural identity of the countries concerned.

Cameroon has a rich musical heritage. The country features a high number of different ethnic groups and cultures. This can be noticed in Cameroonian songs and styles of music. However, this musical heritage is endangered as a result of the lack of infrastructure, and the tropical climate accelerates the decay of exisiting sound carriers.

The national radio broadcaster CRTV has a sizable archive of tape recordings and gramophone records containing among other gems unique recordings of Cameroonian music from the 1960s to the 1990s. The tapes which have been digitalized were recorded in the period between 1960 and the middle of the 1970s. Letting  these records fall into decay would have meant that Cameroon would have lost an important part of its musical heritage. Hand-over ceremony of the digitization project of Cameroonian music archives from CRTV radio Enlarge image Joachim Oelsner hands over a hard disk containing the digitized music to CRTV General Manager Amadou Vamoulke (© Alexander Schuecke)
On June 2012, the German Embassy in Yaounde launched a digitalization project for the preservation of the Cameroonian musical heritage. The Embassy thereby cooperated closely with the public radio broadcaster CRTV, the music ethnologist Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Bender, the IWALEWA-House at the University of Bayreuth (Germany) as well as with the Goethe-Institut Kamerun in Yaounde. Joachim Oelsner, expert in the area of Cameroonian music archives, managed the technical part of the project in Cameroon.

The digitization work has now been accomplished after two and a half years. On January 20, 2015, The hard disks containing the digitized music were handed over to the projects partners CRTV, the university of Bayreuth and the German Embassy in Yaounde during a ceremony at the residency of the German Ambassador in Yaounde.

The Embassy invited renowned Cameroonian musicians including Atebass, Anne-Marie Nzié, les Têtes Brûlées etc. in order to celebrate this event and offer it a musical framework. Hand-over ceremony of the digitization project of Cameroonian music archives from CRTV radio Enlarge image Anne-Marie Nzié and Atebass on stage (© Alexander Schuecke)

Thanks to the digitalization of the around 1,300 sound carriers, around 10,000 Cameroonian recordings can now be made available to a broad public. The radiobroadcaster CRTV will broadcast these musical gems, many of them for the first time. Music fans will have the opportunity to discover the music of previous generations by themselves through an interactive terminal that will be located in the  the studio of the CRTV national radio station in Yaoundé.

Furthermore, the completion of the digitilization project now makes relevant scientific research on Cameroonian music possible.

The Federal Foreign Office funded the digitilization project with an amount of 130.000 euros.

Discours de l'Ambassadeur

Hand-over ceremony of the digitization project of Cameroonian music archives from CRTV radio

Discours de l'Ambassadeur de la République fédérale d'Allemagne à Yaoundé, Dr. Klaus-Ludwig Keferstein

Pr. Dr. Wolfgang Benders' speech

Hand-over ceremony of the digitization project of Cameroonian music archives from CRTV radio

Speech pronounced by the scientific coordinator of the project, Pr. Dr. Wolfgang Bender on behalf of the University of Bayreuth.

Pictures of the hand-over ceremony: Digitilization of Cameroonian music from CRTV Radio archives