The Official Blog of the
Williamstown Theatre Festival

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Dramaturgy | From Naperville, IL to Cameroon, Africa

compiled by Sarah Slight, dramaturg
Naperville, IL Overview
Located 28 miles west of Chicago, Naperville, Ill., is home to approximately 145,000
people. This vibrant, thriving city consistently ranks as a top community in the nation in
which to live, raise children and retire. The city is home to acclaimed public and parochial
schools, the best public library system in the country, an array of healthcare options and an
exceptionally low crime rate. Naperville has ready access to a variety of public
transportation, housing and employment options. The city’s diversified employer base
features high technology firms, retailers and factories, as well as small and home-based
businesses. Residents also enjoy world-class parks, diverse worship options, the opportunity
to serve on several city boards and commissions, a thriving downtown shopping and dining
area, a renowned living history museum known as Naper Settlement and an active civic

Ranked as a top community in the United States to raise children, retire and start a homebased
business, the city boasts nationally acclaimed schools, the best public library system
in the country, an exceptionally low crime rate and a lower unemployment rate than the
state's average. In 2005, the city was named as one of best places to live in the United
States by Money Magazine. Naperville ranked third of 100 finalists and was the only Illinois
town to make the 2005 "Best Places To Live" list. The city was also named as one of
Fortune Small Business' Best Places to Live and Launch in 2008. 

Cameroon, Africa Overview
The modern state of Cameroon was created in 1961 by the unification of two former
colonies, one British and one French. Since then it has struggled from one-party rule to a
multi-party system in which the freedom of expression is severely limited.
Full name: Republic of Cameroon
Population: 19.5 million (UN, 2009)
Capital: Yaounde
Area: 475,442 sq km (183,568 sq miles)
Major languages: French, English, languages of Bantu, Semi-Bantu and Sudanic groups
Major religions: Christianity, Islam, indigenous beliefs
Life expectancy: 50 years (men), 52 years (women) (UN)
Monetary unit: 1 CFA (Communaute Financiere Africaine) franc = 100 centimes
Main exports: Crude oil and petroleum products, timber, cocoa, aluminium, coffee, cotton

Cameroon began its independence with a bloody insurrection, which was suppressed only
with the help of French forces. There followed 20 years of repressive government under
President Ahmadou Ahidjo. Nonetheless, Cameroon saw investment in agriculture,
education, health care and transport. In 1982 Mr Ahidjo was succeeded by his prime
minister, Paul Biya. Faced with popular discontent, Mr Biya allowed multi-party
presidential elections in 1992, which he won.

In 1994 and 1996 Cameroon and Nigeria fought over the disputed, oil-rich Bakassi
peninsula. Nigeria withdrew its troops from the area in 2006 in line with an international
court ruling, which awarded sovereignty to Cameroon. In November 2007 the Nigerian
senate passed a motion declaring as illegal the Nigeria-Cameroon agreement for the
Bakassi Peninsula to be handed over to Cameroon.
Internally, there are tensions over the two mainly English-speaking southern provinces. A
secessionist movement, the Southern Cameroon National Council (SCNC), emerged in the
1990s and has been declared as illegal.
Cameroon has one of the highest literacy rates in Africa. However, the country's progress is
hampered by a level of corruption that is among the highest in the world. 
from country profiles
Language in Cameroon
Cameroon is home to 230 languages. These include 55 Afro-Asiatic languages, two Nilo-
Saharan languages, and 173 Niger-Congo languages. This latter group is divided into one
West Atlantic language (Fulfulde), 32 Adamawa-Ubangui languages, and 142 Benue-Congo
languages (130 of which are Bantu languages).
English and French are official languages, a heritage of Cameroon's colonial past as both a
colony of the United Kingdom and France from 1916 to 1960. The nation strives toward
bilingualism, but in reality, very few Cameroonians speak both French and English, and
many speak neither. The government has established several bilingual schools in an effort
to teach both languages more evenly. Cameroon is a member of both the Commonwealth
of Nations and La Francophonie.
Kamtok, or Pidgin English, has in many ways been the lingua franca of Cameroon since the
1880s. It is commonly used as a vehicle for enhancing communication in this bilingual
country that has approximately 250 native dialects. There are several variations on Kamtok
based upon where it is used -- in grass fields, in the Catholic Church, in the Francophone
areas of the country, in the southwest of the country, and among the Bororo cattle traders.
The People
Cameroon has a diverse population comprising approximately 250 ethnic groups that then
form 5 regional/cultural groups. These are western highlanders (also called grassfielders),
which include the Bamileke, Bamoun, and many smaller groups in the northwest; coastal
tropical forest people, which include the Bassa, Doula, and many smaller groups in the
southwest; southern tropical forest people, which include the Beti, Beulu, Fang, and
Pygmies; Muslims of the northern semi-arid regions and central highlands, which include
the Fulani; and the Kirdi, non-Muslims peoples of the northern desert and central

The constitution guarantees freedom of religion. About 40% of the population follows
some form of indigenous beliefs, 40% adhere to a form of Christianity, and 20% are
Muslim. The various religious groups get along reasonably well, although there have been
some problems reported by religious minorities in various parts of the country. The north
of the country is primarily Muslim while the south tends to have more Christians.
The Family
The extended family is the focus of the social system. It is the extended family and includes
grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. Members of the extended family are considered
as close as the nuclear family is in the West.

Family obligations take precedence over pretty much everything else in life. Individuals
achieve recognition and social standing through their extended family. The young are
expected to care for elderly members of the extended family; retirement homes are an
alien concept.
As with many family orientated cultures nepotism does not have the negative connotation.
In fact, hiring relatives is part of the cultural context since it not only provides for the family, but also ensures that Cameroonians work with those they know and trust.
Cameroonians who have a common background tend to organize themselves into small
groups commonly called associations. Individual members refer to themselves as sons and
daughters of a given community. 
from, a customs and social website

No comments:

Post a Comment