One time Cameroonian Taboo “Toghu”, Now the People’s Unique Attire: “Maybelle Boma, Founder – #Toghu Army
By journalist Beng Hummy Fang with Hummy News
1. You launched a movement recently called the #ToghuArmy, what is the dream behind the movement and how has the vision been welcomed by other Cameroonian women?
Those who know me? understand my deep interest in art and culture. The thing about culture is the magical effect it brings to the affirmation of your identity. These days when division is rife, I thought Toghu will energize our culture and weaponize it against the forces of division and domination. I am overwhelmed by the reception that this campaign has received. Not only by women but by men also. Not only in Cameroon but beyond our borders.
2. Why did you chose “Toghu” for the name of the movement?
Toghu or sometimes pronounced Togho is the name if that material which traditionally was completely handmade. I chose this name because of the need to maintain the identity and the cultural roots. A bit like Kente in Ghana. When you say kente only one country comes to mind. It was clear, from when the Cameroon team stopped using suits at the Olympics and used Toghu instead, that we had a national attire with a very huge potential that could likened to Kente.
3.How do you intend to create impact across Africa with the Toghu movement?
The impact will be cultural. I have big plans and you will be the first to know. This requires time and financial support. It will be unwise to expose my plans at this time. Imitation is the best form of flattery it is said. However I do not want my plans pilfered before I start.
4. How do you think using the toghu outfit for the identity of the #Toghu Army is not going to give other Cameroonians the impression or thought that the Toghu is a purely a Northwest Cultural movement out to just promote cultural values of the grassfield?
On the contrary, I am underlining the gradual universal acceptance of Toghu as a cultural phenomenon. There is nothing wrong with people from the place of origin of Toghu to feel proud! No one realizes the universality of the “Agbada”or the gowns from the northern part of Cameroon because it cuts across the whole of West Africa. Of course, there are those who see division in everything. My idea is simple. Promoting the sharing of a cultural phenomenon.
The Toghu today,has been tending internationally with a lot cameroonians now feeling proud to wear the fabric, contrary to what almost become a taboo wearing it in the years back as it attracted hate speeches like “le Bamenda”, “graffi” from non natives of the Northwest Region.
5-How do you explain this sudden “last shall be the first” today that seems to be case with the Toghu?
As I said earlier those who feed off division can use anything regardless. “Bobolo”is something that you find eaten all over Cameroon and beyond but that does stop some people from associating it with a particular ethnic group. So Toghu did not and cannot escape from that. Toghu is special because it is an eye catcher. It did do this at the Olympics when it was seen there for the first time. It is unique and uniquely Cameroonian. That is why it is so symbolic. You remember in presenting Southern Cameroon Dr Endeley chose the Toghu design as the cover of the document. Dr Endeley was from the Now southwest region. He did not proceed from any form of biais. He recognized the uniqueness and the captivating nature of the design. This was all the way back in the late 50!
6.From what can be understood from what you have said, the Toghu Army is coming into existence because of the need to sell or export the Toghu cultural fabric in particular, and the Cameroonian culture as a whole to the world. How and where does the Cameroonian government come on to help make this realizable?
That is not quite what I am saying. I am saying the uniqueness of Toghu can be a formidable tool for the exportation and promotion of our culture. If this is well handled it can give traction to a huge commercial bonanza for those working in the industry. I believe that culture is people driven not government driven. However, a government can be an extraordinary catalyst. It can promote, stimulate and sponsor. It might incentivize. Government also has the means and the capacity through its many research centers to really produce a cultural and historic study about Toghu. These are just a few ideas. There many others more qualified than my humble self who can more exhaustively address the issue of the role of government in the promotion of culture.
Thank you for talking to me. You have just made your own contribution towards boosting this Toghu rave. God bless you richly during this Holy Easter week.
TOGHU Army Movement Founder