Jovi: 10 Things I Love About Cameroon

Cameroonian rapper & producer Jovi shares the 10 things he loves the most about his home country: including football, Ndolé & TV series.

In our ‘10 Things I Love’ series we ask our favorite musicians, artists & personalities to tell us what they like the most about their home country. In this new installment, rapper & producer Jovi—who recently worked with Akon and released his new ‘Bad Music’ EP—shares the the 10 things he loves the most about Cameroon. Hey Jovi, what do you love about Cameroon?

1. The Diversity of the Food.

There’s a lot of different dishes in Cameroon that are very good and can appeal to almost the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa.The menu is so large and there’s so many dishes from the country’s different regions—Ndolé, Miyondo, roasted fish, Bobolo, Koki. Fufu, Eru, Sangha, Bongo Chobi, Achu and Kondreh. Each region has a way to cook and has their own primary resources, so each region has their own flavor.

2. Cultural Diversity.

There are a lot of clans, tribes and people that speak different languages in Cameroon. It’s very common to see neighboring villages that speak different languages and don’t understand each other.

You get a lot of cultural inputs into what Cameroon as a nation looks like. For example, my grandfather’s ancestors are from the North (Hausas and Muslim) and my grandmothers’ are from the south (Christian).

Cameroonians usually speak and mix different languages within the language that they’re speaking. It’s kind of schizophrenic, but it’s necessary to communicate by any means if you want the person next to you to understand what you’re saying.

Jovi's "‘Zélé" music video.


3. Football.

Football is very important for Cameroonians, in particular the national team. It’s not really about what’s happening in Europe, there’s another level of excitement when people support the national team. People get emotionally attached and they’ll never accept that we’re beaten.

I think Cameroon has some of the best footballers in the world, including Roger Milla and Samuel Eto’o. But I’ve also watched incredible players who’ve never been to Europe. Some of them don’t even make it professionally.

Everybody in Cameroon thinks that they can coach the national team better than the actual coach [laughs]. Everyone on the street has an opinion how to play the players, where to position them. I don’t even play games but I play football on Playstation for Pro Evolution Soccer.

Roger Milla at the 1990 World Cup.

4. TV Series.


What’s the most hilarious thing you’ll ever watch on this planet? A Cameroonian TV series. They talk about society but really make people laugh. When you watch a series, you’re on the floor because it doesn’t make any sense.

Their exclamations are great, things like Chai!, which is like 'damn!' but less of a curse, it’s basically means ‘you went too hard man.' Ékié is like 'surprise.' Like if you’re shocked at something a person says, then the thing that comes out of your mouth is Ékié!’  You can see this in series like Les Déballeurs and its lead role played by Edoudoua.

5. Peace.


Cameroon’s been politically stable for over 40 years. There was just one incident in 1993. But the country is pretty peaceful and it has a lot to do with its citizens. I can say there are no signs of xenophobia in this country. That’s what I mean by peace.

We do have instances of Boko Haram in the North but it’s mainly because we share a border with Nigeria and their beef is with the Nigerian government. Think about it, if people or your neighbors are fighting next to you and breaking bottles, you’ll get cut. We’re close to the situation and since people have family on both sides of the border, people get involved.

But Cameroon in general is non-violent with its approach to conflict. Here, you go to jail for just hitting somebody. If you punch somebody and blood is oozing out of their head you’re gonna be in serious trouble.

Akon's "Shine The Light." Produced by Jovi.

6. Freedom of Speech.


Everybody has the freedom to speak and has their opinions. People go off. There are talk shows in this country that talk freely against the government. People can just tune in and hear someone talking shit about how the country is being run.

Some of theses shows, hosted by radio people like Atéba Ayene come with facts and some of them have debates that people can respond to. Some politicians won’t go on a show because they think it’s a trap—the talk shows even sometimes get politicians fired or sent to jail for corruption

7. Cameroonian Jokes & Insults.


There’s a black thing about insults. Black people or black Africans have a way of putting words together that can be hilarious—and this is everywhere in the world. Samuel L Jackson’s probably Cameroonian because every time he expresses himself I’m like ‘this guy looks and expresses himself like guys I hang out with on the regular. I’ve smoked blunts with this guy.’ [laughs] 

Cameroonians are capable of making the best jokes. The many cultures and languages in the country create a very rich mixture of how to put things together, even in jokes,. When you’re in a bar trying to have a drink you can hear all kinds of jokes, jokes about love, work, sex, failure. Every Cameroonian is a potential stand-up comedian when he wants to express a situation.

8. The Music.


Because of our multicultural thing, Cameroon is a musical superpower in the world—you know Erykah Badu has Cameroonian roots? We have the best instrumentalists in a single country, which allows me to produce hip-hop music with all live instrumentation. For example my track “Bush Faller,” it sounds like something Justice League would do for Rick Ross. I can make tracks like that for cheaper and with all live musicians playing on the recordings.

Here, you have different types of music, rhythms, dances, stories and ways of perceiving things—the culture is very rich. In Cameroon you have like 50 different genres that are legit and people know. There are a lot of untapped resources and untapped music in Cameroon.

I don’t have a problem being original here because I can look next door and tap into the next genre to sample in my hip-hop tracks. I might end up creating 50 different styles [laughs]. If people ask where I got a rhythm from, I can point to a village where they play it every day.

Also, I can’t count how many musicians from Cameroon have worked with other big musicians. “Soul Makossa” by Manu Dibango—that’s Cameroon! Michael Jackson used it, Kanye West has rhymed it, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Diddy, J. Lo even used it. Rihanna also used it in “Don’t Stop The Music’. That’s Douala language, those people probably don’t even know what it means.

You know James Brown did an André-Marie Tala song? He gave James brown his demo and James Brown went and redid a song with it in the US. Shakira’s World Cup song “Waka Waka” is a Cameroonian song by the group Zangalewa. She just covered and translated it. It’s the same thing I heard growing up in the 80s.

A lot of Cameroonians were also involved in the building of the French hip-hop industry, the second biggest hip-hop market in the world.

I think that we’re musically superior to Jamaica. We’re just in Africa, that’s all. I’ll prove it with my life if I live long. I’ll prove it. Everything that has happened with my career has happened with me staying here.

9. The Women.


On the real, Cameroonian women are on such a high level of sexiness and they’re the masters of sexual philosophy. We also have sex symbols in our music—artists like Lady Ponce, Reniss, and Mani Bella. We have some that sing and save marriages and others that sing content that’s pretty X-rated.

Reniss' music video for Na You feat. Shey

Cameroonian women have that sex appeal where people stand back and say ‘wow.’ If a Cameroonian girl gives you her number it means she likes you. They’re very pretty. I go to a lot of African countries and I don’t feel like I’m seeing something new, but we have all types of girls. Like our diverse climates and foods, we have all types of girls.

10. Hospitality.


I’ve travelled a little bit around the world and when it comes to hospitality Cameroon stands out. If you speak English or French you don’t have to act like you’re from somewhere else. We say 'good morning' on the street, it’s just the way things are. It’s love.

From Chale Wote Street Art Festival 2016. Photo by Ofoe Amegavie.

5 Ghanaian Creative Spaces Doing Afrofuturist Work You Need To Know

These Pan-African outfits are actively visualizing and creating realities for black people that are better than the ones we inhabit now—get to know them.

In her praise for Octavia's Brood (an anthology of science fiction stories from social justice movements), filmmaker dream hampton quotes these words of adrienne maree brown, a co-editor of the anthology: "All social justice work is science fiction. We are imagining a world free of injustice, a world that doesn't yet exist." A respectable appropriation of brown's statement would be: all pro-Black/African activism is afrofuturism in praxis.

In that frame of social justice activism being twined with the useful framework that afrofuturism is—envisioning and exploring viable realities for black people all over the world—here are five Pan-African outfits out of Ghana who're doing advocacy work, and variously tasking our imaginations to visualize an existence for black people other—and better—than the one we inhabit presently.

Accra [Dot] Alt

Photo courtesy of Accra [Dot] Alt.

The "Alt" in Accra [Dot] Alt stands for alternative, which should say much about this organization's orientation: an invested interest in facilitating the alternative. To that end, A[D]A creates programs which provide spacial and other forms of support for the expression of alternative thought, and also for spawning boundary-breaking art. A[D]A's most popular initiative, the annual Chale Wote Street Art Festival, since its inception in 2011, has been thematically preoccupied with imagining and creating existences that are more humane and fulfilling—particularly for black people.

The African Electronics Trilogy exemplifies this. Between 2015 and 2017, the Chale Wote Festival's themes, African Electronics, Spirit Robot and Wata Mata—have altogether exhorted festival participants to "tap into a super power grid [and] create a new encounter with reality that is entirely of our choosing and construction." The theme for this year's festival, Para-Other, does not stray from this visionary mission. A[D]A partly describes Para-Other as an order "embracing of a black labyrinth and establishment of an aesthetic that captures our cessation of flight and transit into a non-contested existence."

Last time the statistics were checked, in 2016, over 30,000 people were at Chale Wote; which is a more than 6,000 percent increase from the number that attended the first edition of the festival. Talk about possibilities.

African Women's Development Fund (AWDF)

Photo courtesy of the AWDF.

This grant-making foundation, Africa's first pan-African women's fund, was co-founded in 2000 by three African women: Hilda Tadria, Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi and Joana Foster, who passed in 2016.

Since setting up, the African Women's Development Fund has funded and supported close to 1,500 women's rights organizations and women-led initiatives in countries all over the continent.

In April 2017, the institution launched their ground-breaking AWDF Futures Project. The initiative is basically composed of projections on the future of the continent as seen through an African feminist lens. These projections are based on a mix of data/trends analysis and sheer imagination.

The AWDF Scenario Stories is one aspect of the project. It comprises of four short stories imagining four different kinds of futures—desirable, undesirable, wild card, transitional—for African women, in Africa. The protagonist in each of these scenarios (set in August 2030) is Mariam; a queer, intelligent and free-spirited young woman in a wheelchair.

The full narratives of Mariam navigating each of these four futures can be accessed, in both text and animated audio-visual formats, on AWDF's website, together with the Futures Africa: Trends for Women by 2030 report.

What will Africa be like in 2030? What would we see if we looked through the eyes of a woman? The AWDF Futures page holds a number of possible answers to these questions.

AfroCyberPunk Interactive

Photo courtesy of AfroCyberPunk Interactive.

Sci-fi writer and self-proclaimed afrofuturist, Jonathan Dotse, created AfroCyberPunk in 2010. Then, it was a blog whose focus was on "exploring the creative potential of African science fiction and speculative narratives."

Almost a decade after running as a blog, AfroCyberPunk morphed into AfroCyberPunk Interactive—a digital hypermedia content developer and publishing house—in 2017. Still, the preoccupation with "exploring the future of Africa" (as went the blog's tagline) remains prime. A part of what could be referred to as their mission statement reads thus: "Our roots in afrofuturism continue to inspire the recurrent themes, motifs and aesthetics of our publications. We aspire to [...] address the global imbalance in the representation of marginalised peoples and perspectives."

Founder Jonathan Dotse is himself at work on his debut novel, a cyberpunk mystery/ psychological thriller set in Accra, Ghana circa 2060 AD.

All of the above certainly do echo these words offered by Jonathan in a blog post titled Why Africa Needs Science Fiction: "As Africa marches onward into the future it is important that we as Africans begin to critically visualize the development that will take place on our own soil, and our vision must be based on our own unique reality, cut from the cloth of our own societies and tailored to our specific needs."

Drama Queens

Photo courtesy of Drama Queens.

This feminist and Pan-Africanist theatre organisation optimally embodies the idea of Sankofa: an examination of heritage to select and use, presently, the positive and helpful values, in the ultimate service of creating the future.

Drama Queens is founded on the ancient Egyptian philosophy of Ma'at—which adjures for justice, balance and harmony as ways of being. The world being as it is now—generally unjust, imbalanced and disharmonious, against black people specifically, and more specifically against marginalized black communities—renders Drama Queens' work futuristic.

To ground this, they are avowedly working towards "a just, balanced and harmonious world where highest respect is given to nature and all nature creates."

This year, for instance, is Drama Queens' year of "contributing to an end to homophobia towards the African LGBTQ+ community" through various activities such as theatre productions, facilitating queer film production workshops, social media discussions and talk events.

Nana Akosua Hanson, founder and director of Drama Queens has said in an interview that her organization aims, ultimately, "to end oppression by changing mindsets through the use of cultural tools, to revolutionalize thinking and bring forth the existence of an Africa without heteropatriarchy, and a continent free from the exploitation and destruction of racist nations." Sounds about Afrofuturist.

Squid Magazine

Photo courtesy of Squid Magazine.

Comics, games and animation are probably the most popular media through which creators indulge in futuristic thinking. Add to this the truism that critical, intellectual engagement and documentation are of lifeblood importance to the efflorescence of a culture. Put together, it adds up to the fact that Squid Magazine (simply, Squid Mag) is doing essential afrofuturist work.

Started in 2015 by Kadi Yao Tay and Kofi Asare, Squid Mag is dedicated to the "exploration, critique, promotion and archiving of African creativity manifested within comics, games, animation..." As it happens, Squid Mag is one of the very few, if not only, platforms on the continent that wholesomely covers African output in the above mentioned media.

There's a rather poetic resonance as to why this outfit is named 'Squid.' Here's the import of the name, as explained on their website:

The name is inspired by squids, sea invertebrates that release ink as a defense mechanism. We find it poetic how such a mechanism can be a metaphor for painting a people's realities and dreams fluidly in an ocean of canvases. An ocean that is threatened to be overrun with narratives that exclude us.

So now you know, if you didn't know before, where to go in search of a sea of narratives—of realities and dreams—that include us.


There is a great deal more than can be said for the imagination—and exercising it. It begets creation, after all. Thus, what these and other entities are doing—engendering alternative socio-political imaginaries for all peoples of African descent—is such a needful venture. But after all is said and visualized, the ultimate challenge, most probably, is to act, to create. Blitz the Ambassador puts it succinctly on his afrofuturist song, "Africa Is The Future" (long since renamed "Africa Is Now"): There ain't no future unless we build it now.

moshood lives in Accra, from where he writes across genres. He has recently taken on painting. He tweets here: @thehamzay

Still from Emmeron's "Good Do"

Following Government Suppression, Sierra Leone's 'People's Popstar' Is Finally Allowed to Perform

Emmerson's music has influenced past elections in Sierra Leone. Here's why his performance at the National Stadium is a win for artistic freedom.

Early December 2017, a flyer was circulating on Whatsapp in Freetown announcing one of the most exciting concerts of the year. Sierra Leonean superstar Emmerson Bockarie, stage name Emmerson, was going to perform live alongside two other popular artists. The concert was to be held at the National Stadium, Freetown's foremost and largest concert venue where the likes of Timaya and Wizkid have performed in the past.

One week later, with no further explanation, the concert was cancelled.

Rumours went wild. The then ruling party, All People's Congress (APC), was seen by many as the culprit. Elections were just around the corner and Emmerson, with government-critiquing lyrics, was not to perform to an audience that could reach 36,000 people. It was a recurring story; Emmerson has not been able to perform at the National Stadium since 2012, all during the APC reign.

Now, a month after the change of government, Emmerson held his concert, called Finally, on the April 28.

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The Prince and Princess of Lesotho Were the Only Foreign Royals At Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's Wedding

The Basotho and British royals have a long-standing bond.

While Prince Harry and Meghan Markle avoided inviting politicians and foreign royals to their wedding on SaturdayBarack and Michelle Obama were noticeably absent—the couple made an exception for one pair of royals: Prince Seeiso of Lesotho and his wife Princess Mabereng.

The two were amongst the 600 guests present for Saturday's festivities at Windsor Castle. Princess Mabereng donned colorful traditional attire for the ceremony, and stood out in the best way possible.

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