About that Njang…

A week ago, today, I attended a party. Dear friends of mine graduated from college and hosted one big party to celebrate. First, let me say that it was a great party. A party I’d been looking forward to for months and drove ~ 5 hours to be present for. This party was going to be the highlight of my summer.  The plan was to eat, drink, dance and celebrate as hard as I could. You see, it was not just a graduation party. It was so much more than a celebration of achievement. It was a celebration of resilience, of strength, determination and sheer bad-assery. I mean, two bachelors degrees (in hard core science subjects), one medical school acceptance, and an MHA/MBA, all in the same family, is nothing to sneeze at. From the amount of  pride I felt in my heart you’d think it was me graduating.

There was food. I mean, what self respecting Cameroonian party wouldn’t have enough food to make you reach for Miralax or Peptobismol the day after? And there was booze – with yours truly the bartender. This was a job I fell into quite by accident, but unlimited access to wine? Yes. Yes, please.

I could go on and on about food and booze but what I really want to talk about is the dancing. In this age of internet, hardly a day goes by where you don’t see some dance video of some kind come up on whatever social media you use. I usually watch them because I believe dance is one of the best ways to celebrate being alive.

But I have to say that there is a freedom, a reckless abandon, a joy that us Africans have when we dance, that I have yet to see in any other culture. Call me biased. I see it in South African dances, Rwandan, Congolese, Cameroonian, Nigerian, Mali, Ghana. Everywhere! I see it in traditional dances and their more modern renditions.  It’s in the rhythm, the throbbing beats, deep and soft, that make your muscles instinctively tense and release into movements, that all come together to make one soul shaking groove that any human being would respond to. And respond we do, with smiles on our faces and a light in our eyes that corrupt leaders, hardship and the contempt of the world cannot diminish, because we’re survivors. We have thrived, we thrive and we will always thrive, no matter the circumstances. All I needed to do was look at this family graduating three girls on one day to know, without a shadow of doubt, that we do.  

And did I mention we dance with reckless abandon? Balles à terre!

You don’t even know the half of it.

Well, that night we got turnt. T-urnt. The saka’ah be too trong. 

See, what happened was they got this DJ right? DJ BankE (Click name for info) Hands down the best DJ in MN. They don’t play out there, no ma’am they don’t. I’m still trying to figure out if hiring him was a good or bad  decision, because on one hand… make DJ no ever play man music so again. Seamless transitions, beat on point, he knew exactly what to play and when. It was like he tapped into the brain of everyone in that hall and was like “Baby, I’mma give you what you need.” Dude has me considering starting a plot to lure him out to Chicago…. or moving to MN. Just when you thought your thighs couldn’t take it anymore, he rolled  out a tune that had you apologizing silently to your body. I went from heels to flats and by the end of the night I was barefoot. But on the other hand? Wah mami, them no be warn we. Wah mami them for really warn we because the matter end up worry. Man want die dance. Death by Dance. At the end of the night, we wondered if we needed to call the ambulances. 

I don’t think there was anyone in that hall who didn’t make it to the dance floor at some point. As someone put it, you could tell the age of the crowd on the dance floor by what music was playing. The Naija club bangers got all of us twenty somethings and teens shaking our bum bums like:

But then the oldies brought in the older crowd. Ain’t no one could touch them.

Not even the children were spared. And you know they brought it, because this thing runs in our blood.

Then there was Pinguiss. It was an experience to be lived. It lasts ten minutes and at the end… if you survive,  you knew in your bones that you are gloriously alive. P90X ? Naaaah…. Pinguiss.

The story, however, changed when the Njang started. I’m not even going to try to explain Njang because I could dedicate a whole blog to Njang. It is one of the signature dances of the people of the Cameroonian North West Region. The grassfields as they are colloquially known.  I’m willing to bet over 70% of the people in that hall (me included) were from one part of the grassfields or the other, so when Njang came on , it was clear our time had come. Most seats were empty. The energy, the vibe in the room changed. The joy and pride was tangible. You could reach out and touch it if you wanted. The sight of my friend’s mother leading the room in dance, is one I will remember for the rest of my life. The joy on the woman’s face would last a lifetime of rainy days.

Even the people of other nationalities present understood that this dance was special. The Naija peeps came in like :

No one was messing around, I can assure you. Chai!

Anyway, the next morning, we woke up in real pain. Our legs looking at us like:

But it was a pain we welcomed because we all knew that times like that, when we can celebrate ourselves, our accomplishments, our inherent value, those are the times that make everything else we go through worth it.

Congratulations again, girls. You make us all so, so proud.

Go! #237

4 thoughts on “About that Njang…

  1. Must have been one hell of a night 🙂 …Tiki louisa


  2. LOL! Just reading this one. Girl you took effort to scope these vids out


  3. It was worth the effort. I laughed myself silly in the process!


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