The Yemba Tribe of the Bamileke People Celebrated their 10 year Anniversary in Newark New Jersey.

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Commisioner Serges Demeflack and Dr. Akil Kokayi Khalfani

There is a saying, “Don't talk with water in your mouth”, meaning that whatever is promised must be fulfilled. The timing of such things was very evident and clear.

The Bamileke are one of the largest ethnic groups in Cameroon. The country alone is home to 240 tribes that speaks over 230 languages. Celebrating in the City of Newark, New Jersey families of the 13 major kingdoms that speak the language Yemba,  traveled to the city sharing with the community generously their heritage. The Festival is a bi-annual cultural event organized by Yemba USA and with the support of more than a dozen community groups beyond the Yemba community.  This year was an extremely special occasion as it marked their 10-year anniversary. Just recently the Newark Municipal Council and the Mayor’s Office of International Relations and Diaspora Affairs, and the Newark African Commission partnered with the Cameroon community of New Jersey and the High Council of Cameroons abroad to commemorate their 63rd anniversary of independence during the month of May. Fast forward to July 1st, the Yemba festival was a grandiose exhibition fostering pride. The exuberancy of their culture was boldly expressed through colorful and decorative clothing, jewelry, symbols, music, dancing, storytelling, and food.

N'gou Dance Troupe. A young Yemba man holding a fan.

The Yemba tribe are resilient and resourceful people who have preserved their legacy for centuries dating all the way back to Egypt. The event took place at  Weequahic Park 93 Carmichael Drive, Newark NJ. It included a multitude of activities that centered on the importance of preserving intergenerational bonds. Children participated in traditional face painting, drumming, and dancing. To evoke the spirits of their ancestors the Elders and Ngoug dancers performed war dances. They were seen holding swords, wooden staffs, and leather fans. Adorning themselves with bells around their legs, they used jesters and choreographed movements. The performances by the men, women, and children were ceremonial and grounded in respect and nobility. 

Two Yemba women holding baskets by the throne.

The Yemba throne was a source of fascination. Drawing you in were artifacts. Individuals were able to interact with items on display, take pictures, and explore the ornaments, fabrics, masks, stools, and baskets. It was exciting to be able to be up close and touch it.

Seeing it is one thing but experiencing it is another, here in the heart of Newark we witness a cultural exchange that demonstrated the complexity of our diversity within the African Diaspora revolving around multi-linguist expressions and the migrant ecology and how it creates a sociological dissonance relative to our American Identity. It was powerful and undiluted, and in many instances, it challenges the psyche to think broadly about the many cultural traits that are similar and unique. This similarity was very noticeable and propels one to ask  difficult questions revolving around our relationships with one another.

Women and Men dance separately paying respects to their elders and leaders.

The Yemba festival demonstrated the power of contact and the efforts being made between the city to encourage our communities to engage with each other. Commissioner Serges Demefack along with Dr.Akil Khalfani One of Newark's visionary Leaders and associate professor of sociology could be seen embracing each other. The love and unity within that embrace are significant because together it bridges the gap of our perceived differences and creates cross-cultural alliances that ensure that our history does not get lost. 

To learn more about the Yemba tribe please visit their website,Click Here

Edited on 7/4/2023

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