Local Perception of Diaspora Production

The finale of the last day of the seminar on September 27 was in the form of two round-tables. The first, coordinated by Professor David Simo, was entitled “Local Perception of Diaspora Production” and included contributions from Christian Etongo (performance artist) and André Takou Sa’a (dancer and choreographer).
Before giving the floor to the speakers, professor Simo reiterated what was hitherto established during the seminar, from which he was able to extrapolate the artists’ positions and classify them in five trends, the first being the allure of the diaspora, and paradoxically a nostalgic feeling, consequent of the displaced artist’s desire to root himself or herself at home. It is within this context that the painter, René Tchebetchou, could best be placed.

The second trend is marked by the idea of stepping back; which involves, as in Jean-Pierre Bekolo’s case, distancing oneself in order to cast a different look at the notion of artistic position. By eschewing the notion of creating for a particular public, this artist rather creates from a particular point of view.
A third trend, highlighted by Pascal Marthine Tayou, kicked against the Cameroonian popular adage which says “a rolling stone gathers no moss,” because according to this trend, migration is a source of artistic and cultural development.
The final trend highlighted basic questions concerning the dialectic of the “self” and the “other” within the process of intercultural experience and dialogue – thus questions touching from different points of view were main issues of the seminar for example the question “What are the very specific roles and functions of art and cultural work within globalized societies and economies nowadays more and more characterized by permanent processes of mental and physical ‘migration’?”

Christian Etongo, the first speaker, opined that so called “home-based” artists consider artists from the diaspora often as “condescending” and they as well reproach the diaspora artist of “occupying” centre stage, thereby eclipsing home-based artists – this phenomenon implies in his opinion the need of an enforced dialogue within the Cameroonian artist scene.

The second speaker, André Takou Sa’a, considers himself a “sedentary nomad”. According to him, diaspora artists celebrated by the so-called Western world are in danger of losing the contact with their home-based colleagues who feel not sufficiently accepted as equal partners within in the international artistic discourse.



Bekolo concluded that in his opinion the most efficient way of solving the described “divide” would be the creation of a platform which would enable communication between home-based artists and artists in the diaspora.