Multipartyism and Nostalgia for the Unified Past: Discourses of Democracy in a Dance Association in Cameroon



ABSTRACT Language and practices associated with democracy and multipartyism are used by practitioners of the gurna society among the Tupuri of northern Cameroon to comment on local changes in gurna dances and their attending social values. At the heart of this commentary is a widely-shared anxiety about moral standards for political action and the threat of factionalism, as well as nostalgia for unity among dancers and in society at large. This appropriation of a nationallevel lexicon enabled practitioners of an ostensibly “traditional” institution to revitalize their practice and comment on the broader political life of the nation.