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FLASHBACK: Cameroon Chronicles - Day 6 - Douala - French Institute - Rockin' the House!!

Originally Posted by Keri Chryst on March 3, 2012 at 9:45 AM

We show up at the venue dressed to kill and are pleased to be greeted by the Ambassador and his wife once again! They came down for a conference yesterday, and actually made a point of sticking around so they could attend our concert. I'm flattered!

We're introduced to a few other dignitaries, et al, and then are whisked back stage where we find our friends from Bantu Jazz and Kundé - themselves all decked out either in jazzy, or traditional gear. The dancers/percussionists are particularly impressive as they warm up together and I dare say perform some sort of pre-show prayer ritual. Serge is absentmindedly doing a little dance step, and I casually mention that I look forward to dancing with them on stage and that "You may be surprised...". He perks up, and offers to show me the step he's doing, and I, always eager for an excuse to shake my booty, jump at the chance. It takes me a few turns to get my feet to agree with my brain (there's a little issue with a beat that gets dropped, and having to start again off of the same foot...) but they seem pleased and impressed at the speed of my progress. So, it's on! Now that they're aware of this facet of my "talents", they're psyched to take advantage of it later on stage. Fine by me! So - First up - Bantu Jazz. They surprise us by taking the "slow burn" approach to warming up the room. Long chords from the keyboard, low bass notes, and randomized percussion sounds slowly build into a series of songs that are a complex mix of modern western sounds reminiscent of jazz and rock fusion that combine with vocals in and rhythms from their local traditions. I have to say, in a way I'm pleased, because I had been unconsciously "concerned" that if they started with the kind of ruckus they'd played for us earlier, then they'd be a tough act to follow ;-) In this case though, it should work out well for Jeff and I to take it up a notch as they pass the torch to us, and then invite them back to rock out with us in the end.

But first things first - the Kundé folks join the Bantu Jazz on their last "opening act" number. The dancer-storytellers have surprised us as well, decked out in bright colors and covered with skin-whitening clay... one of them makes his entrance by literally slithering onto the stage from under the curtain... I think there's a lot more going on here than we could possibly be aware of, but the language barrier keeps us somewhat in the dark. Then it's our turn. We too play on the element of surprise. I decide to forgo the use of language at first - using only gestures and facial expression to incite them to sing along with us on "Duke's Place". Apparently, the communication