History and Evolution of Theatre for Development in Cameroon: Implications for Formal and Informal Institutions

Prof. Emelda Ngufor Samba PhD.

Institution: University of Yaounde I, Cameroon


Theatre for development as a concept made its first entry into Cameroon in 1984 with the project, Theatre for Integrated Rural Development in Kumba whose proceedings are recorded in Hansel Ndumbe Eyoh’s Hammocks to Bridges (1986). Theatre for development has since taken different nomenclatures since then with practitioners developing and adjusting techniques in a search for best practices. Meanwhile, mainly state universities have introduced and developed curricula on theatre for development both for academic purposes at the undergraduate and post graduate levels and as an outreach tool for rural and urban communities on varied themes. Criticism on the restrictive nature of theatre for development has further motivated the concept of film/cinema for development that is not only now practised in the field but is also taught in Higher Education institutions nation-wide. The purpose of this paper therefore is to trace the history and evolution of theatre for development in Cameroon both as a subject in universities and as a community development tool beginning from its genesis to present day. The paper shall highlight its precursors, its significant influences, the different and varied formats it has taken and finally a projected perspective motivated by the present socio-political climate in Cameroon.

Emelda Ngufor Samba is senior Lecturer and Head of the Performing Arts and Cinematography Section of the University of Yaounde I, Cameroon where she offers courses in Performing Arts and English language.