The testimonies, all recordings from 120 Cameroonians on their stories of German colonial rule of Cameroon, are being finalised in Austria.
Much has been said and written about the evolution of Cameroon during German rule from 1884 to 1916, and later French and Great Britain tutelage. To get the Cameroonian version of modern Cameroon’s birth and evolution from 1884, Foundation AfricAvenir International, a charity that focuses on African reawakening, development, peace and international cooperation, gathered the testimonies of 120 Cameroonians who lived the colonial era.
From 1981 to 1986, the NGO travelled to the nooks and crannies of most regions and fished out old people, with some above 100 years, to get original information that will enable the history to be rewritten. The recording was successfully done, but due to financial constraints, the work was abandoned until recently. The German Foundation, Gerda Henkel Stiftung, provided funding for the project dubbed “Preservation and Transmission of Africa’s Collective Memory-African Testimonies and Oral Literature in Early Colonial History.”
The work, which was handed over to a Vienna, Austria phonographic archives, has been received by some Cameroonians with mixed feelings since it is found in a foreign country. Following the misunderstanding, the founder of Foundation AfricAvenir International, Cameroonian-born Prof. Dr Prince Kum’a Ndumbe, org anised a press conference on November 20, 2015. “Since the recording dates over 30 years back, we don’t have adequate equipment in Cameroon to do the work, given the level of depreciation. Apart from the fact that Austria didn’t have a colonial relationship with Africa, its phonographic archives are able to safeguard and preserve the extraordinary heritage,” he explained.
The 120 testimonies, recorded in Cameroonian languages on audio tapes, will be transcribed and recorded on CD in their original languages before being translated into English, French and German. The scanning, transcription, translation and publication of old handwritten manuscripts by Cameroonian authors in local languages from 1920 to 1930 and the repair and digitalisation of 300 old books by European authors on the birth of modern Cameroon and Africa between 1848 and 1944, are part of the project.