With the second edition of the Bia So Mengong festival on the horizon, our editorial team went to meet last year’s winners. Where are they now? What impact has the festival had on their business? And what are their expectations and ambitions for this year’s festival?
First on our hitlist, the Mengan group from Mengong, winners of the traditional dance competition at the 2022 edition of the Bia So Mengong Festival. Its leader Bekale Zouam Martine Chimène answered our questions on behalf of the group.
In her dance outfit (raffia loincloth and cowrie shell bracelets), she welcomes us with a broad smile. She is Bekale Zouam Chimène, vocal lead of the group “Mengan de Mengong”, winner of the traditional dance competition at the last edition of the Bia So Mengong festival.
By way of introduction, Chimène begins by explaining what “mengan” is: “It’s a traditional dance reserved for older women. That’s why it’s danced sitting down. This dance had almost disappeared. We dance it to keep our traditions alive”. Chimàne concludes by inviting all women and other interested parties to join the group, currently made up of 10 dancers and 4 instrumentalists.
Last year’s victory was a boost for the “Mengan de Mengong” group, which has since gone from strength to strength, even outside the Mengong district. According to off-the-record sources, the group has even received an invitation to perform at the Palais de l’Unité.
For this edition of the festival, the ambition remains the same: to win the contest.