We pledge to update this page as you submit questions. Thanks for your interest.

  1. Where is Cameroon?
  2. What is the mvet?
  3. Where is the mvet played?
  4. What is Bikutsi music?
  5. What is the balafon?
  6. What is Eton?
  7. How can I learn more about Cameroon, the mvet, and cultural preservation?
  8. How can I help this documentary get made?
  9. Where will this film be screened?
1. Where is Cameroon?
About the size of California, Cameroon is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Nigeria to the north and west, Chad and the Central African Republic to the east, and Congo, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea to the south. Often called "Africa in miniature," Cameroon is one of the most geographically diverse countries in Africa, with hundreds of ethnicities, dialects, and traditions.
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2. What is the mvet?
The Mvet is both an epic story and an instrument. It is present in the cultures of many African forest peoples related to the Beti/Fang tribes, including those in Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of Congo. The oral history is characterized by an Ekang phase, which includes spiritual and mythological topics (such as Nzana Nga Zogo). Such stories honor village leaders, recount stories of heroism, and inspire communities. These epic stories are played with a traditional stringed instrument called the mvet. Constructed with materials found in the Central African rainforest, the mvet is made of a long bamboo spine, with one or more gourds that resonate when a player plucks its strings.
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3. Where is the mvet played?
Traditionally, musicians played the mvet spontaneously in rural settings when men, women, and children gathered in villages at dusk at the end of a day's work. Today, the mvet continues to be played [albeit sparsely] during gatherings including weddings, funerals, and family celebrations. The mvet is primarily found among the Fang/Beti subgroups of the Bantu people in Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and the Republic of the Congo.
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4. What is Bikutsi music?
Bikutsi translated means "beat the earth." Rooted in the cultural traditions of the Beti people who live throughout the country's southern and central provinces, Bikutsi music is an intensely rhythmic style, and for hundreds of years was composed with acoustic instruments such as the zanza, balafon, and various percussion instruments. In the 1960s, Cameroonian Messi Martin was the first to play traditional Bikutsi melodies on the electric guitar, and the genre began to fuse with other traditions. In the 1980s, the iconoclastic band Les Tête Brulées popularized bikutsi to a wider audience on a global scale. Today, more often than not, modern Bikutsi music has modern instrumentation with drum machines, bass guitar, and a shrill electric guitar riffing on the traditional melody lines. It has come to rival Makossa as the most popular Cameroonian music, even surpassing it in the center and south provinces, where it dominates airwaves, bars, and nightclubs.
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5. What is the balafon?
The balafon is a West African xylaphone with an average of eighteen to twenty-one keys. Among the Beti of central Cameroon, the balafon is often hewn out of the rainforest's red wood, tied together with reeds, amplified with calabashes, and worn around the waist. Groups of men still animate ceremonies, bars, and churches in balafon orchestras, and are often accompanied by dancers.
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6. What is Eton?
Eton is an ethnic group in Cameroon, and also the name of the language members of this group speak. They are a subgroup of the Beti, and their language and culture share affinities with that of the Ewondo, Bulu, and other related ethnic groups in central and southern Cameroon.
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7. How can I learn more about Cameroon, the mvet, and cultural preservation?
Please check out the educational resources, which includes both print and online sources of more information.
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8. How can I help this documentary get made?
We value partnership. Send an email with ideas; if you or your organization work on Cameroon, ethnomusicology, or cultural preservation, then consider partnering with us, and/or sharing some of your knowledge. Or offer a tax-deductible donation.
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9. Where will this film be screened?
During this stage, we are making the best film we can. So consider spreading the word by sending a postcard to a friend or signing up on our mailing list which enables us to keep in touch. Following the premier of the film at festivals, we aim to organize screenings around the world where there is interest and advocacy. You can help make this happen.
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