Cameroon: Theatre - "Le Drame d'Assatou" On National Tour

The performance by Bena Zingui troupe held in the Cameroon Cultural Centre, Yaounde on January 7, 2022.

Organisers had intended it to serve as the start of the rebirth of the waning Cameroon theatre industry. And they seemed to have succeeded somewhat. For, it was a capacity crowd that turned out in the evening of Friday, January 7, 2022 in the Cameroon Cultural Centre, Yaounde to watch the play, "Le Drame d'Assatou" (The Tragedy of Assatou), written by Njandza Félix. Performed by a star-studded Bena Zingui troupe from Zingui Centre, Yaounde, it was directed by an old hand in Cameroon theatre, David Noudji.

Set in Kaele in Mayo Kani Division of the Far North Region, "Le Drame d'Assatou" tells the story of an obedient, well-behaved only child, Assatou - a secondary school student. From a poor background, Assatou is determined to improve the lot of her parents by pursuing her education to make it in life. But later falls under the bad influence of Aminatou, who introduces her to men. Gradually, Assatou becomes less focussed on her studies and disobedient to her parents. Realising that she is pregnant, Assatou abandons school and moves in to live with one of her boyfriends, Abdoul, a poor junior civil servant. Then begins the battle with the other boyfriend, Talba, a rich, illiterate businessman, over who is the real father of her new-born baby. Torn between marrying Abdoul or Talba, Assatou herself cannot say who the father of her newborn baby is.

The sterling performance by who-is-who in Francophone Cameroon theatre was marked by excellent sound effects of Northern Cameroon traditional drumming and singing in Fulfude backstage. With simple, but appropriate costume generally associated with people from Northern Cameroon. "We started rehearsing on August 9, 2021and had the first stage performance on November 25, 2021 in Mfou, on the outskirts of Yaounde. This evening's (last Friday's) performance was our second. A theatre performance is like a child who keeps improving every day. This time we had a professional hall unlike in Mfou where we performed in the Council Hall," explained David Noudji.

"The actors and actresses were so good! So also the stage director, David Noudji. We opted for professionals to better spread the message of Cameroon culture," said the author of the play, Njandza Félix, who financed the whole production. He is also taking charge of the national tour of the performance of "Le Drame d'Assatou."

The star-studded cast saw Assatou played by Jessica Mengue, Abba by Donald Mvondo, Abdoul by Bertrand Baleguel, Aminatou by Felicité Asse and Abdoulaye by André Takoussa. Otis played Talba, Veronique Eyali played Fanta, while Stephane Alima starred the Photographer, the mediator in the conflict between Abdoul and Talba over ownership of the baby. The play was published by Les Editions Accom in 2021.

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