Cameroon Music

Cameroon music is popular world wide. It's unique. It's watched and listened all over the world. The growth of new information and communication technologies has helped to bring the music of this country to a larger international community.

Cameroon's Best Known Music

Cameroon's best know music is called Makossa. It's not the only music genre of Cameroon. There are other numerous and well known music of Cameroon such as bikutsi, ngoso and other traditional music from the various tribes in Cameroon.

All these don't mean Cameroonian musicians have no place in popular music genres such as romance, rock, pop, electronic, instrumental, classical and religious.

In fact, you will find all these in Cameroon.

However, it's worth noting that Cameroon is popularly know for Makossa. Makossa has won millions of fans beyond Cameroon.

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Cameroon Music Timeline

I set out to investigate the origin and growth of Cameroon music. I found out that the earliest recorded music in Cameroon came from the 1930s.

Accordions and Ambass Bay music were common in cities like Douala, which was the most developed city in Cameroon. During that time, performers like Lobe Lobe, Nelle Eyoum, Ebanda Manfred, were popular. These guys found a local audience.

The 1950s and 60s

Bikutsi, a dance of the Ewondos, became very popular. It gained success in the 1950s. This music genre was popularised by a local Cameroon musician, Anne Marie Nze.

Another Bikutsi performer who came along was Messi Me Nkonda Martin and his band, Los Cameroes. He was especially popular because he added electric guitar and many new elements that pleased his local audience.

In the 1950's and 60s, Balafon orchestras remained popular, especially in Yaounde.

The 1970s

Modern Makossa developed in Cameroon later in the 1960s. When it did developed, it became very popular - the most popular in the country.

Manu Dibango, popularised Cameroon makossa outside Africa. His 1972 single, ''Soul Makossa'' became an international hit. It's known that ''Soul Makossa was only briefly popular outside of Africa, but it's worthy to note that it helped to produce several Pan African Superstars through the 70s, 80s and even 90s.

Following Dibango, a number of musicians electrified makossa in an attempt at making it more popular and accessible outside Cameroon.

Another very successful pop singer in the 1970s was Andrè Marie Tala. He was a blind musician but a very successful and popular one.

During this period Bikutsi also developed to new heights, but it found criticism and controversy over pornographic lyrics. Bikutsi was also brought to new Audience, especially in Europe, thanks to Mama Ohandja.

The 1980s

  • The 1980s were new days for Cameroon music. Take a note at the time line below.
  • Makossa had moved to Europe.
  • The growth of new pop makossa.
  • Prominent musicians of the 80s were Moni Bilè, Douleur, Bèbè Manga, Ben Decca, Petit-Pays and Esa.
  • There was the development of Cameroon media and popularization of Cameroon music and musicians.
  • Makossa and Bikutsi were prominent during these years.
  • There was the formation of L'Equiped National de Makossa.
  • This brought together the best makossa stars including Grace Decca, Ndedi Eyango, Guy Lobe and Dina Bell etc.
  • Makossa gained prominence across Africa and beyond.
  • Bikutsi became music of savages and didn't appeal beyond ethnic lines probably because of its pornographic relationship.
  • But Les Veterens emerged as the most famous Bikutsi Group during this decade. Other groups included Titans of Sangmalima, Seba Georges, Ange Eboko Emerent and Mekongo President.
  • A new age in Bikutsi also emerged. Sala Bekono, Atebass and Zanzibar came along. Zanzibar later formed Les tête Brulées with Marie Ahanda.
  • Cameroon Radio Television, CRTV, came along in 1985. It's emergence greatly contributed to the growth of the Cameroon music industry.
  • The success of Les tête Brulées changed the music industry in Cameroon. Behind the Bikutsi genre was Jean Marie Ahanda, who revolutionised it in 1987. With an extreme form of Bikutsi, Makossa was knocked off the Cameroon music chart.
  • Les tête Brulées toured Africa, Europe and the US and during the process recorded the first ever Bikutsi music on CD.

The 1990s

It should be noted that Makossa and Bikutsi declined in popularity in Cameroon in the 1990s as new genres, such as makossa-soukous, Ben-skin and the Congolese influenced new Rumba etc.

Les tête Brulées however remained Cameroon's music best exporter. They accompanied Cameroon to the 1990 World Cup in Italy and in 1994 in the USA.

It's important to note that a new wave of Bikutsi became prominent in the early 1990s. One of the new arrivals was sexually hot singer Katino. Other singers like Les Martiens, Sissi Dipoko and Sela Bekono helped to keep the genre alive.

The 1990s saw the growth and or growth of musicians like Zele le Bombardier, Ebouer Chaleur, Saint Desire Atango, Roger Bekono, Mbarga Soukous etc.

One of the Cameroon musicians that met international fame was Henri Dikongué. He was smart enough to combine Bikutsi and Makossa in his music. He toured Europe and America and started releasing albums with international success.

The Year 2000 and Beyond

As you can see Cameroon music has greatly evolved. Cameroonian musicians today have tried to copy what was done in the past. Others have been very original. The most recent form of music in the country today is a combination of Congolese Soukous and Makossa. This kind of fusion has produced musicians like Petit Paye, Kotto Bass, Papillon, Jean Pierre Esome. There are many of them. Musicians like Longe Longe have also emerged.

Today, Cameroon has thousands of musicians, living both at home and abroad and organising international concerts every year. Their albums are international hits and their uploads on, are doing pretty well.

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