5 February 2019

Cameroon: Giving Mbaya Dance Hip-Hop Touch

Mbaya is an energetic, mostly male dance of the Wimbum people of Donga-Mantung Division in the North West Region. It is also common amongst the Nso people of Bui Division in the same region, and perhaps in northern Cameroon - the origin of Tikar people of which the Wimbum are descendants. Beyond the borders of Donga-Mantung, Mbaya was largely made popular in 1993 with the release of Mbaya Dance by the late Jissa Shafta (Ngwa Joel).

Some 25 years on, Mel Nova, 35, revisited the popular song. It does not say much in terms of meaning as it is mostly entertainment, showcasing the dance type and its various styles. Jissa Shafta is one of the legends of Wimbum music. The single track was released in June 2018, while the video was awaited, explained Mel Nova, whose actual name is Ali Melvine Ndi.

The new Mbaya Dance is 3 minutes, 50 seconds long, unlike Jissa Shafta's that was five minutes long. "The video will blend Cameroon's culture with dance types from various tribes," Mel promises. "The other difference between my version and the original is that I have added urban music or hip-hop touch, with some rap to make it more attractive to young people. I have also increased the list of mbahs (literally "leopards" and "tigers") or Donga-Mantung personalities who contribute enormously to local development," notes Mel. "The public will discover many other innovations in Mbaya Dance," promised Mel Nova who already has his sights set on a third album that will include the remix.

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