At the Palais des Sports in Yaoundé officers carrying musical instruments, instead of weapons, rehearse.
“The soldiers have always played music. They have always played at all times and in all places when it was necessary to accompany the soldiers to the front,” explains Colonel Raymond Serge, Director of sports, artistic and cultural activities at the Ministry of Defence.
“So it is also a way to thank these artists and to participate in this great celebration that is taking place throughout the nation,” Serge adds.
Also warming up his vocal cords is Warrant Officer Assola:
“It is true that I am a warrant officer,” he says, “They call me by my name, warrant officer Assola, I was recruited to the army as a specialist in music.”
Warrant Officer Assola is also known as Martial Becker. He and his orchestra, made up of soldiers and civilians, are preparing a cabaret for the occasion.
Logis Aymar Teubou Kamga, has been a policeman for 11 years. He explains that he learned to play music in the army.
“The love of music comes to me from home, but musical training comes from the army. I was admitted there as a musician where I did various internships, and there you go,” Kamga says.
Also performing are the group Golden Sounds aka Zangalewa, a makossa group from Cameroon created in 1984 by active members of Cameroon’s presidential guard.
Their song “Zamina mina (Zangaléwa)” became a hit in 1986 and pays tribute to African skirmishers ( tirailleurs) during World War II.
The song was used in fund-raising efforts for Comic Relief and became internationally popular when pop star Shakira released a variant titled “Waka Waka (This Time For Africa)” in anticipation of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Proof that military music can make crowds dance