Don’t wait till death, my friend.

Then I chewed on the battery. The liquid spewed easily. A sting. Liquid metal. A cold drenched feeling took over me as I pictured my entrails wailing in chemical unrest. My mother came in, saw my dirty hands and the broken remote…then she…

No. That’s not the story I want to tell you today. Let’s talk a bit about death. Given the abrupt circumstances with which she visits, I will be ..well… brief.

This is not the first time I am talking about death. And it might not be the last. Please eh, forgive my momentary morbid mental inflections.

Prince died. I didn’t enjoy his music. Many, many humans did.

Music lost Papa Wemba as well. Right on stage! I didn’t enjoy his music either. It is said he was an African icon.  I believe those two wonderful artists would be truly missed by those who knew, cared and loved them.

May their souls, and countless others who die each day, some as you read this, rest in peace.

Now, I have issues with these deaths- the media coverage AND the outlandish expression of sorrow/affection/ quasi-affectation that now seems to be omnipresent thanks to social media and the digital age.

Here’s my problem: forget the stars. Forget the icons. Forget the national heroes. Take “Joshua”. He’s your friend. You grew up together and went to school together. You dodged classes together. You were there when his heart first got broken and he was there the time you got drunk and made a fool out of yourself.

Fast forward 10 years. You’re both working. Joshua runs a fledgling startup. You have a very demanding job. You both have kids. You don’t see each other as often. Sometimes, you pick your phone and you just want to chat with your buddy.

Then you think to yourself: “Why should  I be the one to call? It’s not like I am the only one who should miss him!”

So, you never call. Joshua has the same mental soliloquy.

Then, one day, Joshua’s wife calls you. Joshua is no longer of this realm.

Your eyes well up with tears. You wish you’d called him. That you’d given him some money to bootstrap the company. That you’d offered him that old car you weren’t using so often.

You wish you were back in high school with Joshua.

Now, we both know where I am heading to with this.

Prince, the world will miss you. Same for you Daddy Wemba. But before you splurge my timeline with how much you will miss those who are gone ( I wonder why no one wrote about them this much when they were alive), take up your phone and call a “Joshua”.

Mom, Dad, sibling, friend, spouse, colleague, buddy.

Send him/her a tweet. Give ‘em a Skpe call. Send a snap.

Don’t wait till death, my friend.


P.S: I should take my own advice. I think this is the earnest reason why I write. I have so much to improve that the only way I can remind myself to do it, is to write about it. You may have noticed the “entrepreneurship” tinge here and there. I am working on a venture which requires a lot of guts and a lot of patience. The past months have NOT been peachy. But writing about these things gets a lot in perspective for me. It’s a sort of therapy because I still believe I need professional help. So far, I haven’t gone down the streets naked. So, we’re good.

Thanks for being here…Joshua. 🙂

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“Taking Advantage”

Making use of a seemingly awful situation for the benefit of a venture seems to be a  trait that cuts across many  entrepreneurs and business people.

I want to believe that if we treated our lives as businesses, we’d spend very little time on non-productive activities.

That we’d  take advantage of our environment, but more importantly our God given gifts.

It is unfortunate that many times when this phrase is used, someone is  being  blindsided.

“She took advantage of his naiveté.”

“Because he knew she didn’t know an original from a fake, he sold her the fake model at the price of the original.”

Here’s the thing about taking advantage of someone:

There’s always someone smarter, more informed and less inclined to be fooled.

It’s only a matter of time before you get caught with your hand in the pot of meat. And how despicable.

I love taking advantage of situations. My favourite is when I have disappointed someone and I know carrying out a particular task or buying that CD or downloading that audio, will put me in his or her good books.

I blatantly take advantage of any situation that would make the person in front of me happier. Even if it is 1% happier.

How amazing would our days be if we took advantage of situations in order to make others happy?

(This doesn’t mean you should wait to disappoint friends, colleagues and family before “cheating”. Don’t be an idiot( like me)).

If you’re going to take advantage of someone, don’t act surprised when karma comes knocking.

On Owning Your “Offensive” Voice

Being vocal doesn’t have to mean being offensive. You can still say what you think without being outrageous.

However, if what you have to say will make someone uncomfortable yet, push change in a positive direction, then it is imperative that you articulate your thoughts.

This is exactly why I believe everyone should own a blog. A collection of thoughts across time goes a long way to gauge what you stand for and what you believed.

Also, those who resonate with your take will be grateful to have a leader articulate their thoughts for them.

Seth says: We need you to lead us. What are you waiting for?

Be vocal, but not offensive. Be stern, not rude.  “Be brazen, but not arrogant”

One of the surest ways to know you hit a nerve is when after doing all these, you still offend someone.

…And I am Culturally Incorrect.

I’ve been thinking about the responsibility that comes with being at the receiving end of a gift, a favor or a service. One that doesn’t require an exchange of any sort other than the traditional “ Thank you” or “ I am grateful”.

How far do the impacts of such acts of kindness go? For example, someone buys you a birthday present, do you have to in return, purchase the said friend a gift as well?
Now, if you do, is it because you received a present as well, or is it because you actually wish her well?

Or siblings, when you do something for your brother- that white lie( we both know lies aren’t ever white), does she have to lie for you back?

How far does this “reciprocation” reach? How long does it take to eventually pay a debt?

Actually, my question is more of: is there a debt?

Does a child owe the parents his/her life?

Because you are on this earth only because two people made it possible by the heavenly guided meeting of a sperm and an egg( never thought I would ever use a variant of “heaven” and “sperm” in the same sentence in my lifetime), does this mean all your actions, your dreams, your desires, your goals must be approved by your parents.

Is that it?

I have a feeling that I will be called out as trying to copy the West. You know what? Spare no expense. I am copying the West. But keep in mind that I am very mindful of my context. I know where I come from- a Christian family, with catholic married parents. I went to boarding school for seven years and I have a degree from one of the best Universities in the country. So far, I haven’t been convicted and I am not a father. I neither drink nor smoke for sport.

If that doesn’t establish my “uprightedness”, I don’t know what will.

( Then again, worse crimes have been committed by people with a “saner” profile. But…just bear with me)

There is a term I have been fascinated with recently-“Cultural correctness”. I define it as :

“ deliberately avoiding cultural offense;relating to or supporting the use of language or conduct that deliberately avoids giving offense when it comes to what is acceptable by a community.

Yes, you’re right, I stole the term from political correctness.

Now, my “special” definition limits to the behaviors governing those of children towards elders. In the Cameroonian African environment.

Case in point: You’re 16. You love biology. You watch discovery channel in the morning afternoon and evening. When asked why you don’t watch cartoons, you don’t even get the point of the question.
Duh!
Now, you pass the GCE advanced level. You have 5 papers. Awesome grades. You’re going to the Uni.
Yay!
Not so fast.

Mom thinks you’ll make a great doctor. Dad agrees. One of your Aunts is a medical practioner. Both parents call her name with so much respect.

You would love to study biology. Probably get a Phd. Even have your TV show. You try to argue.
Mom isn’t happy. Dad broods. You consider their option.
“It’s not so bad..” you tell yourself.
You’re smart. So you write the the entrance exam. You make it. Every one is ecstatic! The new family doctor is born!

The family biologist just died. You just became a victim of what I call: emotional blackmail ( note to self: write blog post on this. You’ve been a victim way too many times).

How often do we not stand up for what we really want?

How many times do we sit silent and just do what we are told even when we know that we don’t want to. When we can feel our stomach and every nerve in your body telling you this is a bad idea.

Here are some of the verbal cues of emotional blackmail:
This is Cameroon. Not Europe.
You need experience.
You’re in the virtual world. Reality doesn’t work like that.
Who will pay for this??
Where do you think you are?
You’re going to give me a heart attack.
What about your brothers?
What kind of example are you showing.

OR my favourite…

You’ve changed. I don’t recognize you anymore.

You see, I know all too well all (or a lot) about emotional blackmail and cultural correctness. I have suffered from it for a while. But, recently, I have fought my biggest battle ever.

The battle against the voice in my head. I haven’t won the war. But this post, is part of the battle. The war never ends.

And here are ways to recognize people like me- us- who wage this battle everyday.
We are labelled: stubborn, reckless, selfish, rebels, inconsiderate, bad examples, {Insert other derogatory term to describe someone who does what he or she knows to be what is true to his or her DNA.

( Ok, there is a fine line between someone who knows exactly what he or she wants, and someone who is plain confused. Both seem as confident, only time will tell the difference.)

There are others who can stay culturally correct and live a truly decent and happy life. Many who follow what their parents and elders tell them and find true happiness. I have a friend who wrote the entrance exam even though he didn’t want to be a medical doctor. Today, he’s one of the happiest people I know.

There is no harm in listening to counsel and doing as you’re told.

But if you’re not one of those people, if you’re not built to follow orders, if your heart knows what you’re good at, if your DNA tells you the path to follow…if you’re like me…

Then by all means, I urge you to be culturally incorrect! Please!

Learn the rules, break them- but don’t break the law. Give the world an authentic, true, original version of yourself.

By all means- do not listen to me , your parents or anyone. Find yourself. Shine your light.

Am I asking you to be disobedient? To leave home and be stranded because some idiot on the internet said so?
Nah. I won’t take responsibility for what you do. That’s the whole point of being culturally incorrect.

You make your choices. And you deal with the consequences. No pain, no gain.

But, before you chicken out , let me give you a list:

Steve Jobs, The Beatles, Ev William, Bongajum Leslie, Spielberg, Cameron, Bekolo, Francoise Elong.

These may all be artists. But I want to believe that if these people (and many like them) who have changed the face of music, movies, the internet – if they had listened to those who loved them and wanted them to be safe, we would not be benefiting from their true art.

My name is Tchassa Kamga. And I am culturally incorrect.

What about you?

Do we really need this much information?

Factions and influences.
The decisions we make and the lies we let,
to ourselves, our loves and our hidden thirsts.

Which side are you on? How much do you long?
To be free of belonging. To be uninfluenced, fluently.
Stop. Think of the garbage around.

Like “surround sound”, we let our voices drown.
In the market place of ideas- more (spider)web than highway.
A world wide mesh of anonymous influences.

Have we ever been this connected?
In history, has there ever been such a time?
That a single individual, behind a keyboard and a hidden address, could cause so much pain without restraint.

Or such a time, that a soothing tweet could stop your tears?
Or a heartfelt post resonate from China to Bambili.
Never has a quote been able to dish the right dose of dopamine.

Have we ever been this connected?
Multiple factions: #IAMXXX. #BRINGBACKOURXXX, #NOTOXXX
So much noise. So much content.

Will the Asimov  be right?
Will AI take over? Will Aliens attack?
Or… are we in The Matrix?

Stop. Think of the garbage around.
The good garbage.
And the bad garbage.

I don’t think we need so much information to start.
In fact, I purport that excess of it is the problem.

@flyethiopian celebrates 70 with #cmrbloggershangout (or Because I am a typical customer)

I have never been on a plane. Nor a boat. Nor inside any hovering craft for that matter. But I know, someday ( soon) I will. So, like every optimistic first time airplane customer, I may have fiddled with the mental image of my first ever plane ride. And I have come to one simple conclusion: if I were put to choose between Virgin Atlantic, seed of the awesome knight and Ethiopian airlines, now 70 years old, I’d pick ET.

Addis Ababa To Cairo First Flight ET

Ethiopian Airlines First Flight 1946

How do you make your purchase decisions?

The device you are using to read this, how did you get it? I mean…why did you get that one and not the other?
I am assuming here that you had a choice. If, like me, your mother bought for you, well, don’t worry, you’ll get my point soon enough.

Why do we pick one item over another? One brand over another?

I had been thinking about this for a while. I still do every so often. However, I came to a conclusion last Friday. This was during the #cmrbloggershangout organised by Ethiopian Airlines. The hangoutcoincided with the celebration of 70 years of existence of the African airspace behemoth.

We often think we make “informed decisions”, that we are not moved by advertising or peer pressure or that ( I love this one) : I feel like the brand really cares. That is why I bought this particular toothpaste.

Yeah. Right.

According to this post by Peep Laja, founder of Conversion XL,  people don’t often know why they prefer something.  And this conclusion is drawn from a jam testing experiment. Laja goes to add that:

People make instant decisions with their sub-conscious. When they have to explain the choice, the choice might change all together since the rational mind is then involved”-ConversionXL.com.

In that same post, it is pointed out that not only are our choices made from mixed sources, but they are very- and this is important for me- very peer influenced.

Which is the backbone of my very personal argument.

Not my first hangout.

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And it won’t be the last. But it is not everyday that you get to visit the Douala headquarters of an airline and sit with the country manager – Mr. Tsefaye as well as with a  high-placed administrative assistant- Mrs Marie Andela.  This, and the super chill atmosphere that seeps whenever I meet my fellow Cameroonian bloggers.

That is the look I have when my laptop battery is running down and I can't disrupt the presentation to plug it in. Nice shoes huh? *wink*

That is the look I have when my laptop battery is running down and I can’t disrupt the presentation to plug it in.

It was pure coincidence( at least, that is what I was told) that our hangout happened to be set on the same day the company was celebrating 70 years. 

No, We had no cake.

But we did have a meal  later on. But don’t think that is why I would choose ET.

 Food? Really? Nah, I am not that cheap.

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Aside from the intimidation celebration of an airline business running successfully for over 7 decades, we had a full presentation on the past, present and future of Ethiopian Airlines. Enough to make me realize that these guys would never be satisfied.

Not in a greedy way. I mean in a business way. They dubbed this- vision 2025.

Let’s back up a little shall we…

In 2005 they changed the game with the announcement :

“…it would be Africa’s launch carrier for the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner, with a firm order for ten of these ultra-modern jets, and an option for five more. The order for the new fuel-efficient, long-range, passenger-friendly aircraft was valued at USD 1.3 billion. Boeing begun production of the revolutionary new aircraft in 2006 and Ethiopian expects to take delivery beginning from 2011”- http://www.ethiopianairlines.com

In August 2012, the first Dreamliner was delivered to the company. From 1946 to 2016, they have never stopped getting better equipment, winning awards, expanding their market and creating equal opportunities for all their employees. Both male and female. The latter which is  most visible in the very acclaimed All Women Functioned Flight ( November 19th, 2016) for which its  group CEO- Tewolde Gebre Mariam- was awarded a month later, the most gender focused CEO Award by the LWA- Leading Women of Africa.

Only last month, ET  was chosen  by the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agents (NANTA) as the Best Airline in Nigeria.

I would love to think that these awards and accomplishment guided my “informed” choice. That it was because of this constant desire to be better that I would want my first ever take off to be with a gender balanced airline.

Er…yeah…not really.

You see, awards don’t move me. Neither does Beauty. 

The straw(s) that broke Kamga’s airline decision back.

Camer bloggers

During the question and answer session, a lot was covered about the history of ET, the new programmes, the mileage and discounts- especially discounts!

If there is only one thing you must take from this already too long blog post, it is this:

Purchasing Ethiopian Airline tickets ONLINE = 7% off ALL ONLINE TICKET PURCHASE.

Of course this may affect retailers and other “hard copy dudes”, but, not only is the system secure, were we assured, but- the world is online. We have to use the new platforms to our advantage.  Add this to their loyalty programme and what you get is the loyal customer cocktail.

I was interested in the women. I love women. I love my mother…who is a woman…my sisters are women…I love them…you…get my drift?

*wink*

What was the effect of the all female flight? Obvious question for an obvious answer. I did not expect anything other than large scale positive reviews given the wave of gender awareness that is sweeping through the world.

But by jove! The passion with which Aunty Adeline- Publisher of Fabafriq and master mind behind the first ever #Camerbloggershangout– answered, I was sold.

She was on the flight. Her eyes glowed as she described the atmosphere on landing, how everyone was trying to take pictures and what it meant to her as a woman and as a business person.

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Aunty Adeline gave the welcome address and later on shared her personal tale as one whose job has her in the air most of the time.

Previously, she had talked about the experience she’d had with Air France. Her flight was delayed and she’d been asked wait , for hours, in the cold, in the airport and not allowed to get to a hotel to wait for the next flight!!  She did a rant on Facebook. Trust me, you (as a company or individual) don’t want Aunty Adel to rant because of poor service. Remember my MTN Cameroon Rant? Triple that and you get the scale of her rant.

That was not the only rant I have seen recently on Air France another airline.

Tie breaker with no ties.

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L-R: Miss Elodie of Les Marches D”Elodie, Mrs. Marie Andela, Mrs Adeline Sede K., Mr. Tsefaye ( See those eyeglasses on the left? Yup. That’s me.)

Now, Adeline’s job requires that she travels a lot. Same for my buddy Cedric. From what they said about ET and their personal experiences with other airlines, I can, without a doubt, choose ET over any airline in a heartbeat.

Especially when Nkiacha Atemnkeng of Writerphilic Blog ( an airplane aficionado whose love for writing fiction only slightly surpasses his love for teaching it) made a personal comparison of ET and other airlines. He had used them recently for a writing workshop and had been lodged in a three start hotel during whatever-they-call-it-that-passengers-do-in-countries-they-are-not-supposed-to-be-while-awaiting-their-next-flight. His words:

“… upon arrival in Addis Ababa, passengers don’t spend long hours on transit. I believe where Ethiopian really killed it, is the fact that, they actually accommodate ALL their transit passengers in a hotel. I remember when our airport bus arrived at the 4 Star Friendship International Hotel in Addis Ababa, where we spent the night, I stared at the hotel and almost went, “Should err, should I add more money to sleep here sah?” Now that’s unlike many other airlines that compel transit passengers to sleep at the airport. And sleeping on an airport seat is super stressful sha! So, any doubts again why ET beat so many well established airlines in Cameroon and the whole of Africa as the continent’s most profitable airline? On that profits note, in 2015 ET made 176 million dollars in profits globally, in an industry where most airlines are bleeding cash…”- Writerphilic

With:

  1. Three known professionals publicly backing Ethiopian Airlines’ claims for work ethic and customer satisfaction.
  2. ET being the  first sponsor of the first ever #Camerbloggershangout-expresses creativity and a love for innovation.
  3. A sumptuous meal for bloggers in the much coveted White House Restaurant in Bonapriso.

Now, you know why I will pick ET over VG.

It was because of the food. Nothing else.  *wink*

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P.S: Now that you know what I did last Friday, can I get your opinion on Ethiopian Airlines? Do you think I am making a wrong decision? How do you make your own decisions? Friends ( like me)? Advertising? Or a mix? Be sure to leave a comment and share this post if you liked it. Thank you for your time!

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Five lessons I learnt from my selfishness

For a large part of my life, I have been lonely. I have been selfish. I still am as I write this. But it is a battle I have had to engage full throttle because at some point, the difference between loneliness and being alone becomes clear.

And I don’t like any.

Which means that I have to redefine a lot of my interactions with friends and family. Below are five lessons I learnt just today. Each might stand independently. I know. But I don’t think I am the only one who has had to learn these. Please, share your lessons ( on selfishness) in the comments.

1. Give everything time:
Especially when you request something. No matter how small or big the favour may be. The receiver needs to process the deal and react within his/her psychic time frame. Assuming that because YOU thought it through means the other person should take as much ( or maybe less) time,is a recipe for strained relationships.
Ask. Then wait. We all have our issues we deal with differently.


2. Selfishness is the cause of every wrong thing in the world:

That sounds overly pompous doesn’t it? But if you look back to every time something went wrong either with a friend, family, colleague, etc, someone was doing something solely to satisfy his/personal desires. The sad part is not recognizing this selfishness. You need to accept that primal need to save everything for yourself and remember ( consciously) that no man is an island. No matter how strong you are, you can’t wash your right hand properly without your left hand. Don’t think so much about what YOU stand to gain. Sometimes, losing is winning.3. Minds can be changed:
Just like walls can be broken down. It may take either time, tact or (hopefully not) a bulldozer. No matter the cause you stand for or the product you are selling, persuasion takes many forms. And just paying attention to the questions (verbal or non) could be the key to selling that product or idea. Never give up on the first try. Sometimes, you just have to insist politely ( within the humanly/legally/morally acceptable bounds) in order to convince your interlocutor.
However, this may not apply in arguments. Many arguments are just plain pointless.

4. Every explanation is better than SILENCE
I have had to deal with this way too many times. And I still try to make this part of me. No matter how much you feel you have disappointed anyone, make sure you keep him/her updated. Nothing feels more horrible than a phone that rings forever or messages not replied. You may postpone the reprimand but every moment heightens the impending distrust and disdain.

5. Be honest with the small things.
Because the devil is in the details.

If you liked these, please “Like” and leave a comment. I reply to all my comments. Your attention is priceless.
Thank you for your time.

Someone is watching.

Someone is watching.
Someone is always watching.

As you toil away, with your eyes to the screen.
As you tweet your take, and your opinions on the film.

Someone is watching.

That typo you made, that comment you erased.
That like you left, that post you shared.

Someone is always watching.

You could get a call, congratulations or reprimand.
You may get a pat- on the back or SNAP on the hand.

Someone is watching.

You may hide behind your keyboard.
You may cloak behind your IP.
But trust me, I have been rewarded, by someone who was watching.

Before you write that post, before you click that like and before you share that video, remember, someone is always watching.

Worn Out of Insolence

Backpack strapped.
He moves fast.
Fast past the blur of youth.
He has old eyes. Tired, old eyes.
Worn out of patience. Worn out of fun

He talks fast. Stammers often.
Too much he knows. So little time.
So he writes. Scenes. Chapters. Volumes.
He writes. Wanting to stay sane.
Wanting…just wanting.

He yearns, daily. His cry, the same.
“Transform potential to example”
Yet, the mountain moves away, in his eyes.
With every step he takes, the mountain moves away.
He is underfed, physically and spiritually.

He once loved.
A long time ago, he once loved.
“What does love even mean?”
He often wonders in between keyboard strokes.
He never stops to consider, that the fault may be in his stars.

Backpack strapped.
He moves into the night, fast.
Pitch black. Heavy sack. More hope than fact.
He has old eyes. He is an old soul.
Worn of insolence, he takes life by the horns.

Blue Bird #Poetry

There is a bird on the tree.
The blue one.
No, not the blue bird, the blue tree.
The one in my mind, the one I am so fond.

There is a bird on the tree.
The sad one.
No, not the sad tree.
The sad blue bird.

The blue bird sings a song I know.
A song of pain not long ago.
Of pain beneath the skin, way below.
A song within the bone’s marrow.

There is a bird on the tree.
The bird that shares my mind with me.
The bird that scoffs and shares my dreams.
The same bird that hugs when tears reveal.

There is a bird on the tree.
My calm betrothed friend.
Last night he watched the tears fade.
He watched the cutter approach with haste.

My bird left the tree.
He found peace in another’s mind.
My troubles he couldn’t solve.
Now, I’m alone.

He left me, all alone.