The first stop was in Kribi, South Region, Cameroon. Kribi is a popular destination for tourists (and sometimes expat missionaries). It was a bit hard to convince my friends and colleagues that this time I was headed to Kribi to work. The coordinator of our Scripture Engagement Department, Apolinaire, went with me to guide the first one. He is a dynamic guy and bails me out when I get myself stuck in a corner with my French! It was also the first time that Apolinaire had been so near the ocean, so we made sure to head out to the beach one day after our sessions.
|(L-R) Apolinaire, local pastor Francois, and Georges, the mobilizer for the Kwasio language project.|
We had 10 participants - 9 from the Kwasio language and 1 from Iyassa. In these workshops, we guide them through the creative process and give hints on how to use scripture effectively, encourage them to use the true music of their culture, and then have them do some composition in groups. At the end, we record the groups and give them their songs on an SD card so that they will remember what they created and be able to teach it to others in their communities/churches later.
|Most of our participants in the Kribi workshop|
|Following Adolphe from his family home in the village down to the beach.|
|Miles of beautiful beach...|
|A culturally significant rock that the Iyassa call The Tortoise|
In Campo, I stayed the night and left my truck at the home of my colleagues Wendy and Benis, linguists studying the Iyassa language. The next morning, I boarded a small boat and went across the river into the country of Equatorial Guinea, where I was met by another colleague that has worked in EG for a couple of decades.
In Bata, Equatorial Guinea, we did another workshop. The difference in this group was that the participants were more urban, with most living in Bata, which is a fairly large city. But, it was interesting that many were originally from other parts of the country, as we had five different languages represented. The music produced was more western influenced, but they all were interested in pulling in some elements from their home cultures as well. This group also had some polished musicians, a few of which had produced professional recordings in the past. What made this workshop easier was that I was able to teach in English! Spanish is the language of wider communication in EG, so my colleagues that work there translated for me in addition to leading some of the discussions.
|Some men of the Fang language getting help with vocal parts from Benga and Kombe women.|
The results in EG were closer to finished products since these were more experienced musicians. We took the opportunity to make some sample recordings of their new creations as well as some older songs that many of the musicians had. This group also did something very unique: instead of recording a "rough draft" of their songs in progress, which is what we typically shoot for by the end of the third day, this group worked all together to add voice parts to each of the other groups in the other languages. It was cool to see a trio of Fang-speaking men teaching a trio of Benga-speaking ladies the words to their songs so that they would have women's vocal parts included in their their songs. And each group did the same, including all of the others in their music. It was hard getting all of the participants comfortably into the small office we used to record, since we only intended to record 3-4 people at a time. But they didn't seem to mind squeezing 11 or 12 into the space for the fuller sounds.
At the end of it all, Scott and Margaret (my colleagues based in EG), were thrilled to have the musicians of five different languages excited to write new music in their own languages and hear the finished products. While hearing the participants singing scripture songs together in their mother tongues, they said, "This is what we came to EG for!"
My trip back to Yaoundé was a long one on Sunday. I left Bata at 7am and was driven an hour and a half north to the river at Rio Campo, took the boat back across (not a fun experience this time, but that's another story for another day...), picked up my car at Wendy & Benis's house, and drove 6+ hours home to Yaoundé.
|One of my fellow passengers on the boat back into Cameroon. She and her friend make the crossing every Sunday from EG to go to their preferred church in Cameroon.|
All in all, it was a successful trip. I missed my family, but was glad to have some positive results in both Kribi and Bata.