By Didier Vernyuy Yangeh
The Cameroon International Music Festival (CIMFEST) came alive with a captivating celebration of culture and musical artistry during its second edition from November 12 to 18, 2023, at the iconic Molyko Stadium in Buea. This amalgamation of education, innovation, and celebration left an indelible mark on Cameroon’s vibrant music scene.
Under the patronage of the Ministry of Arts and Culture and generously sponsored by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and UNESCO, CIMFEST stood tall with influential partners like Mountain HUB, Trace Africa, MTV Base, CRTV, and E-Black Africa. The festival’s diverse lineup featured master classes, workshops, a symposium, a hacker-thon, musical awards, networking pool parties, excursions, and vibrant vendor exhibitions.
Amidst this melodic journey, a series of master classes and workshops, notably during the hackathon, emerged as educational pillars. A master class titled “Protecting Your Music and Opportunities: Copyrights, Intellectual Property, Contracts” became a focal point, engaging participants in understanding the legal frameworks essential for artists. Barrister Neneng Yannick, an entertainment lawyer, commended participants for their keen interest and addressed challenges between artists and record labels.
CIMFEST evolved into a hub where stakeholders converged, cultural propagation occurred, and new perspectives on crucial aspects like publishing, distribution, and branding were explored. Artists like Emmanuel Kobi (El Kobi) recognized the need for creativity stimulation, registering under the Ministry of Arts and Culture. Financial concerns were addressed in master classes, offering insights into maximizing revenue streams, artist management, and marketing strategies. The celebration of Cameroon’s diverse music genres fostered unity in cultural diversity.
At the festival’s core was the hackathon, orchestrated by the tech-savvy minds at Mountain HUB. More than a coding marathon, it served as a dynamic platform to infuse technology into the music industry, fostering scalability solutions and engaging youth in decision-making processes. The 56-hour intense collaboration mirrored the challenges of the Cameroon Music Industry, with young minds working tirelessly in teams, fueled by occasional power naps and sustenance. Internal competitions like stand-up comedy, singing, and dancing added an element of fun to the creative process.
Despite challenges, participants showcased strong enthusiasm and creative prowess. An innovative prototype emerged to streamline the process of booking artists for events or DJs, ensuring security and efficiency. The platform simplifies negotiations, allowing users to choose from registered artists, view charges, make deposits, and ensure secure transactions.
Key figures played pivotal roles in CIMFEST’s success. Caleb Karawa, CEO of Karawa Media, lent his expertise during a master class titled “Low Budget, organic Marketing Tricks for Startups to Land Early Traction.” He shared valuable insights on unlocking human potential through education and mentorship, emphasizing the role of continuous learning. Fahrenheit Pictures, founded by Karawa, contributed photography and videography services, playing a crucial role in creating and marketing visual assets.
Verkijika Divine, the officer for digital licensing and international relations at SONACAM (National Copyright Office in Cameroon), emphasized the significance of institutions like SONACAM in protecting the rights of creators. Divine shed light on licensing and collecting royalties, underlining the role such institutions play in safeguarding the intellectual property of creators.
Ayuk Etta, the CEO of Mountain HUB, the incubator tech hub integral to CIMFEST, orchestrated the hackathon to bring technology into the music industry, creating scalable solutions. Ayuk Etta ensured that the hackathon was not just a serious coding event but also an opportunity for participants to have fun and unleash their creativity. His leadership contributed to the success of this dynamic collaboration.
In a candid conversation with Ruth Meteh, TV and Event Host and a vital member of the CIMFEST Team who participated in the festival’s excursion, a crucial message was conveyed to Cameroon artists. Meteh emphasized the need for artists not to solely rely on their talent but to be industrious in securing funds for their projects. She urged them to refrain from placing blame on music lovers for perceived lack of support, emphasizing that self-sufficiency is key.
“For those who have chosen music as their primary source of livelihood, it’s imperative to elevate their standards,” Meteh advised. She stressed the importance of engagement in educational activities, advocating for continuous learning, research, and a solid understanding of the music business. The underlying message resonates: success in the music industry goes beyond raw talent; it hinges on the ability to effectively market and monetize one’s craft.
As participants meticulously honed their solutions, three standout groups emerged triumphant, claiming coveted cash prizes. The first price was $1000, the second price was $600 and the third price was $400. These winning projects not only demonstrated innovation but also presented tangible solutions to the real-world challenges confronting the music industry.
The culmination of CIMFEST was marked by the open-air concerts at Molyko Stadium, serving as the grand finale. The stage was ablaze with sensational performances from some of Cameroon’s most exceptional artists. Thirty diverse award categories were presented during this year’s festival. Among them the accolades rolled in as Locko secured the title of Best Male Artist, Tenor earned recognition as the Best Performing Artist, and Mic Monster clinched Album Of The Year for “The Stars Are Watching” along with the Best Rap Artist award. Ko-C stood out as the Best Urban Artist, Krys M claimed the crown for Best Female Artist, while Loic Sumfor was honoured as the rising phenom with the Next Rated Artist award.
These talented artists not only ignited the crowd but also took home well-deserved awards, creating an electrifying atmosphere that truly captured the essence of CIMFEST – a jubilant celebration of music, culture, and the boundless creativity that defines Cameroon’s dynamic music scene.