YAOUNDE - Musicians in Cameroon are having a hard time making sales and getting airplay — blaming the popularity of Nigerian music. They say night clubs and media are promoting Nigerian songs over the local product. But the clubs say they are only responding to people's requests.
This song "One Ticket" by Nigerian pop stars Kizz Daniel and Davido is blasting through loud speakers in Safari, a night Club in Cameroon's capital city Yaounde.
DJ Emmanuella Tangdeng said they select their music from requests made by the audience. This Saturday night, 80 percent of the music on their lineup is of Nigerian origin.
"Ada who sang only you Jesus, Mercy Chinwo who sang excess love. Steve Crown you are great, David G my trust is in you, P Square, Flavour, Davido," said the DJ.
Cameroon Music Corporation, which protects the interests of Cameroonian artists, reports that in 2018, foreign music — especially from Nigeria — dominated records played in night clubs, radio and TV stations. More than one million of the three million CDs sold in Cameroon were of Nigerian music.
Musicologist Theodore Mboua said Cameroonians fall in love with Nigerian music not only because of the proximity of the two countries, but also because of the messages of hope, especially for the unemployed, and poor youths that are prevalent in Nigerian music
"The message, most of them talk about marriage, talk about getting rich and that is of course is what people want to hear so it translates in the music. Then religious messages have an impact on peoples lives and so most of that is passed on by religious music of course from Nigeria," said Mboua.
But Cameroon musician Afo-Akom, a promoter of the Njang music from the English-speaking North West Region, blames media houses and night club animators for the unpopularity of Cameroon music.
"Those who are animating on several programs play nothing but foreign music. The music becomes popular. When some of us go to these radios, they play it [our music] one time, two times. That is what has been killing us, not that we do not play good music in Cameroon. The radio takes all the time to play Nigerian music from morning till night."
Afo-Akom said the government of Cameroon should reinforce laws that require 70 percent of music played by media houses to be of local artists — and suspend or fine those who violate the regulations.