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Cameroon: Arts Apprenticeship in Cameroon (Carleton Global Engagement)


Todd Heidt

Director, Eleanor Stellyes Center for Global Studies

2 East South Street

Galesburg, IL 61401-4999



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This Carleton Arts Apprenticeship in Cameroon program enables students to expand their creative faculties in the visual and performing arts in an enriching cross-cultural learning environment. Participants live and work with local artists, artisans, musicians and dancers, study French and explore indigenous, Christian, Islamic, colonial and global influences on current social conditions in Cameroon.

Students pursue artistic studies in the context of a personalized nine-week apprenticeship with a local expert in their field. Following consultations with the program director, each student chooses two arts disciplines from a list of possibilities including but not limited to: bala (precursor to the xylophone), blacksmithing, bronze metal casting, costume or fashion design, dance, drama, drumming (djembe, dunun, ntamanin), horizontal handloom weaving, jeli ngoni (precursor to the banjo), jewelry crafts, kamalen ngoni (8-10-stringed harp lute), kora (21-stringed harp), leatherworking, musical instrument fabrication, pottery, puppetry, soku (single-stringed fiddle), textile dyeing (bogolan mud-cloth and/or indigo), vocals, and wood sculpture.

Students learn through imitation, aural recall, and improvisation. The program is divided into four stages. During stage one (three weeks) students live together, receiving intensive Malinke language instruction in the morning and participating in orientation classes in the afternoon. During stage two (nine weeks), students live with their artistic mentor, receiving two to three hours of instruction time per day, then practicing, observing, and socializing with family members. Stage three is a ten-day study trip to the Mande region. Finally, stage four involves a reunion of course participants and independent project presentations.

Students receive credit for the following courses: ARTS 310 Apprenticeship / Arts Practicum, ANTH 350 Traditional and Modern Perspectives on West African Culture, ARTS 210 Mande Aesthetic Traditions, Malinke or French at Beginner or Intermediate level.

Fall Semester (mid-September to mid-December): Credit 4.5.
Program advisor: Professor Nikki Malley

Learn more about Cameroon: Arts Apprenticeship in Cameroon (Carleton Global Engagement).

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Printed on Monday, May 23, 2022