Youths, drinking horns, and foreign aesthetics in the art of the Western Grassfields, Cameroon

SOURCE: Aesthetic practices and spatial configurations: historical and transregional perspectives
OUTPUT TYPE: Chapter in Monograph
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2017
TITLE AUTHOR(S): M.A.Fubah
SOURCE EDITOR(S): H.Baader, M.Becker, N.Dinkar
KEYWORDS: CAMEROON, CULTURAL RIGHTS, VISUAL ARTS SECTOR
DEPARTMENT: Human and Social Development (HSD)
Intranet: HSRC Library: shelf number 9965

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Abstract

This paper suggests that the recent growth in popularity of cow-horn drinking cups, especially those decorated with an image of Bruce Lee, across the Cameroon Grassfields is an affirmation of the politics of obsession with objects of status typical of titled men and elders of the western Grassfields. The paper argues that cow-horn drinking cups with carvings representing Bruce Lee, unlike the undecorated cow-horn drinking cups that were previously used by most young people of the region, are significant because they embody the desire of these youths to assert their status and identity and more importantly to make their voice heard in the Grassfields community. The paper demonstrates that the deployment of such imagery is a reflection of the contemporary struggle with tradition in which the region's young generation is engaged: it becomes a symbol of defence against their suppression by a gerontocratic elite, and thus youth asserts itself against a practice which retains certain categories of drinking horns, including the buffalo-horn drinking cup, for example, for traditional elites.