Cameroon

Cameroonian #Podcasters? #Podcasting? Anybody? Somebody?

Update from Facebook Post: This post doesn’t refute the existence of diverse, rich African podcasts. My bone of contention is with the lack of ( or maybe my poor research skills are to blame because I didn’t find) Cameroonian podcasters. It also takes into account all types of podcasts. Even the motivational podcasts my good friend Befoune talks about here. And, the focus is on audio. Not video.

This link  gave a collection of 6 hot African Podcasts we should be listening to.

It was interesting to find that (obviously) a majority were Nigerian. I clicked on “Not Your African Cliché” and was thrilled to get the four  unique , interesting Nigerian ladies.

Their discussion ranged from education to entrepreneurship and startups to designer clothes.

It felt like the kind of harmless banter you may be lucky to eavesdrop when your beautiful and full of adventure cousins are all seated in the parlor watching a boring TV show and chatting through the commercial slot.

It was nice.

The list was nice.

What wasn’t nice (for me) was the fact that I tried to Google Cameroonian podcasts to listen and I couldn’t find any.

I pray I didn’t do proper search.

But these words struck me:
“The simple reason why I believe it’s important to produce podcasts featuring African voices is because we simply can’t trust non-Africans to accurately represent our interests on the world stage, or expect them to adequately articulate our values and convictions. “Andile Masuku, Host of African Tech Round-up.

I don’t think there are adequate Cameroonian voices on the internet that wrestle to help our narrative evade “the danger of a single story”

And I hope I am wrong.

I know two people who put out audio content- Baba Aboki and William Takor. But I don;t think they do it on a consistent basis. And given the nature of their lives and work, I totally understand.
But, I don’t forgive them. Because their opinions and voices could change a lot of minds about a lot of things.

Guys,do more.

I also listened to Femmes Lumiere by the industrious Andrea Bomo. But it is more of a radio programme uploaded to the internet than a podcast.

Like bloggers and journalists seem not to identify their key differences, I think there is a disconnect between what a podcast is, and what it really is.

And what it isn’t, is a radio show.

Podcasts are intimate, raw and rich. They allow a versatility that cannot be achieved with radio and the almighty RSS allows listeners to retrieve new episodes whenever they want as well as listen whenever ( and wherever) they want…

For a long time, radio has existed.

Many of us (especially our parents) fervently listen to Laucheon date and Cameroon Calling.

Traditional media isn’t dead. It may never die. But New Media allows a reach, audience and so much more.

If you have come across any Cameroonian podcasts, please leave the links in the comments.
Do you have a different view on podcasts?

Would you like to produce podcasts?

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Le JobTalk : Solving Cameroon’s Employment Gap

There’s a job event taking place in Douala in four days. It’s open to all. You just need to download your free ticket.

It is organized by the human resource startup- Agence ARCH led by Marco Mbilla. The first edition proved to be timely.

I will not attend. Not because I don’t think it is relevant( why would I be writing about it if it wasn’t??) But, because I will not be able to get to Douala by the 30th of April.

Le Job Talk  aims at engaging job seekers and employers in conversations that could lead to mutual gain.

Job-Talk-2-1

Human Resource Management staff, degree holders, job seekers and other consultants around the questions: how to get a job, what job givers seek and how to position yourself in the job market.

Just like I  don’t think  everyone seeks to get a job,  I don’t think everyone should be an entrepreneur or build a business.  Here’s a Quora thread on “Why doesn’t everyone become an Entrepreneur?”.

A leader is only one because there are followers. Take away the followers and she’s nothing. Nada. Niet. We need people to build businesses. And we need people to work in those businesses.

The first time I met Marco ( together we some other dudes and a dudette) we were trying to organize an award ceremony (whatever happened  to that bro?).

The second time, it was at ACTIVspaces in Douala. Where we met again for the 3rd time during  the first edition of Elodie’s #CamerSMMeetup ( Oh, there’s another on the 14th of May, get your free tickets!)

If you’re in the city on the 30th, don’t miss it. Thank me later.  And oh, don’t forget to be careful with the taxi cab drivers.

 

P.S: While writing this brief update, I wanted to make the case for Unemployment in Cameroon. I needed numbers. Turns out, the first Google hit is the very non-Cameroonian site. Then,  I read this on it: 

“Unemployment Rate in Cameroon is reported by the Institut National de la Statistique du Cameroun”- http://www.tradingeconomics.com

Obviously, you know what I did.  Here’s the site. I did a search and the only result was this.  Guess what? The research dates as far back as 2010. I didn’t even bother to download the pdf document (which is in FRENCH ONLY!!). Please, if you do, let me know what it says.

I can read french. I just don’t find it fun to read data that doesn’t matter.

I hope it is my ignorance of data that begs this question: is there any Cameroonian institution that does reasearch on this very important data? Or should I wait for Davos to get info on my country? Please, someone put some data in the comments. 

I hope I am wrong. I want to be wrong. I want to believe that I am just too lazy and ignorant that I don’t know where to find data on my country anywhere on the internet.  That would be way better than the feeling in my stomach right.

P.P.S: I don’t event want to get started on the design of the website. Ugh.

Thank you for reading oh! Are you on Snapchat? Add me! —–>@tchassakamga
*Ellie Goulding Voice* I need your love….please like and share. And if this is the first time you’re reading this or visiting my blog, start here.
I love you too.*wink*

@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.

As3JFceeRrxafqvl-Mg_EfiT3ydrQc2zS07YWHJyY28H

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.

AmLU04FZco4d1nmnESqI3gxsiKS1Z5y8_bb881uK8ghr

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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On Video Content: The Question of #Team237 Music

If you’re a Cameroonian artiste and you feel bad after reading this, then I probably wrote it for you. And this is just the beginning.
I will try NOT to make direct references to any artistes living or dead.
I will, however, make indirect references.

There’s a problem.
One that I think, consciously or not, we are failing to accept the damaging effects this problem has on who we are, now, and who we are going to be.


The blue lion in the room

By “we”, I mean as a society. “We the Cameroonian People”.

The problem
“If you want to understand a Nation’s soul, read its fiction”. How many times have we (mostly without data to back the argument) blatantly affirmed : ‘Cameroonians do not read’?

I have. Many times.
And I am not proud of it.
But I am not here to talk about the reading culture either. I am here to argue the case of a derelict legacy- the culture in our media- specifically music-content.

We are proud of our 230+ ethnic groups. Proud of our diverse languages and landscapes. Of our multiplicity and even the forced colonial heritage and the bondage of our two borrowed tongues.

Proud.

Are we? Should we?
I don’t watch TV very much. And I don’t like Cameroonian entertainment. (This is very subjective on my auditory taste) Not that I am a music buff, but I have had my share of music #MadeInCameroon.

There is a rise in the number of artistes. I don’t want to point at the availability of cheaper equipment, YouTube tutorials on “how to direct a music video” or YouTube itself.

Something, or someone happened and now, if after this article, you decide to criticize me by saying :” Gerrarehere Kamga, it’s because you can’t sing“, then you will probably find my myopic self on Boom TV singing this text.

If Trump can still be on for the elections at this time, why can’t yours truly be a singer songwriter?

I am not discounting the fact that there are some really gifted and talented singers, songwriters, musicians and creative peeps who are essentially fulfilling their purpose on earth with lyrical genius and sublime voices.

If you’re an artiste, reading that last paragraph, and you think I mean you,  I’m not.

Now that I have given room for enough doubt as to what I think of who, let me attempt to express the seeping immorality, blank creativity, waste of material, time and brain energy to produce 3 to 4 minutes of shitty ear torture. That, and why I think our culture is suffering for it.

I once eavesdropped- “Richard Bona doesn’t sell in Cameroon because his music is not for Cameroonians”.

Interesting, the speaker’s premise was. From that single statement, I could extrapolate this: the music that sells in Cameroon is for Cameroonians. That music that encourages activities that may or may not be entirely acceptable in a morally upright society IS what Cameroonians want.

Then again, it was just a single statement. I can’t draw conclusions from what one person said.

BUT! How many people think that way about Manu Dibango? Or Henry Dikongue? Or Blick Bassy?

And I guess it could be the same argument used by proponents of Nigerian music and the rise of the Jazzy bug, the Yemi Alade fever and, last but most prominent- the #Godwin malaria.

#Godwin. SMH.

Culture and Family
When I was born, my father nicknamed me after a popular Brazilian footballer. If we grew-up together, you know that name. If you write that name in the comments, I will unfriend you and block you. This, is a promise.

Now, the reason why my father gave me that name was because he was(and still is) a huge football fan. In fact, he was so impressed by those 1990 world cup actors that he almost gave my brother a nickname too later on.

My wise mother did not let that happen.

What Jobs?
Where is my stupid childhood nickname story heading to?
You have seen it around you. The influence of media content on our characters and our cultures. The influence of the media on the way we dress, the way we walk, our life choices.
In fact, I believe a media study can point the rise in entrepreneurship and business creation (essentially, the spread of capitalism) the the gross mediatisation of Western success ( dropout) stories.

Mark; Jobs; Gates; Musk; Thiel; Graham, no offence.

What happened to my meal?
Have you noticed the rise in the “takeaway” trend? Almost every restaurant worthy to be called that way, has provision for you to carry your meal away.
(Did someone whisper MacDonalds?)
Blame the “lack of time” and increased “work demand” all you want. Someone’s copying trends.
And dear restaurant owners, you better join the wagon.

For lack of a better reference…
Ok. Away from football, nicknames and food.
I will not talk about the song that suggests you get physically inappropriate with your sister or cousin BECAUSE it’s a party.
Neither will I talk about the song that asks you not to care because the person telling you to act properly is not your father.
Did someone say Cameroonian values include: Family? Respect?
May be I am not in the right nation.

Now, anyone can get a drone. Seriously. Even I can get a drone.
(If you buy it for me, that is).

I am lucky to have been taught by one of the pioneer video content creation experts in the country. Mr. Kome Mathias. He knows his stuff and I wish I could just download him in hard drive or something.

Th one thing that reverberates with his education and many like him, is the cost.

It costs the skin from your teeth( direct translation) to study in film school. Or any film course for that matter. Ask Francoise Elong if you doubt me.

Film school, which teaches what to do in order to tell your story better, is expensive for the same reason why even with Pa Kome as lecturer, I could not get all the knowledge (or none of the practice) I would have loved the have- video is an expensive medium.

It requires costly equipment. You are capturing life. Motion . Colors. Shades. And using them the twist reality, to entertain, to inform, to educate.To elicit emotion. The make memories.

That privilege should be expensive.

Video Guru for Sale
How many of our verily eminent stage directors/ directors/ creative directors/ video editors went to film school?
Yes. I know there are a few (actually just one that I know)quite talented and self-taught via intensive practice AND HAD ACCESS TO EQUIPMENT.
How many of the people making music videos in Cameroon actually know the theory behind video making?

How is that related to culture?
Stand up. Got to your mirror. Show me something you’re wearing that is made up of leaves, you know…like our forefathers did. Tell me your haircut isn’t influenced by Hollywood. That your accent doesn’t sometimes come out british. Or that you don’t dream of Wizkid or Yemi Alade.

(Twice in one post. That must mean something. Yemi, this must mean something).

Some people are gifted and don’t need school? Not everyone has money?
Would you take your sibling/child/partner to an unqualified doctor? Would you let your child be “healed” by someone who “claims” to be a doctor? How can you be treated by someone how can’t even buy a labcoat?

Get it?

For our culture to be incorporated seamlessly in our content, the actors behind these creative ventures need to be masters of their craft.
You don’t have to be perfect
But you have to constantly strive for perfection. Push your limits. Test your boundaries.

But you have to tell the stories right.

What’s your story?
You story is not Timbaland’s story. Are you T-Pain? What’s wrong with your voice?
Why don’t you just tell all the vixens to get naked? Or do you find soft porn more appealing?

My father and I listen to Richard Bona. When alone , I listen to Skrillex. Or DJ Snake. Or M.I.

My father and I watch Richard Bona concerts. When alone, I watch The Daily Show.Or Suits. Or The X-Files

I love the moments with my father. The culture of my country is ingrained in those moments. I cherish them

Would you listen to [Insert any Cameroonian song made in the past 3 years or so] with your child and be comfortable about the message?
Would you be proud of what the song is saying about you? About “we the people of Cameroon”?
With our various ethnic groups, rich historic heritage, powerful intellect, is this really the apogee of our visual intellect?

Just Another Face #Short #Fiction

“Miss Bright?”
“Pim!”

The old cab pulls over. Surprised, I am, to find that I am the only passenger at 7.50 pm. Unless I am in a different time zone, on weekends in Molyko, the day starts at 9 pm.

Eta Palace
Apart from the customary hum and occasional gear change, the vehicle moves silently. I love silence. I don’t bother looking for an identification document. I barely see inside the vehicle, why remind myself of my already incompetent visibility in low light conditions?
He is old. 50 at least. His gaze never leaves the road. Mine, the sidewalk. The silence eats our thoughts. The necessity of quiet is usually underrated.

Total

A bevy bunches up at the entrance to Dirty South, the street just after the Total gas station. The rainbow striped crew clearly has a Sunday evening outing. The kind that usually culminates in : a refurbished sense of moral decadence, lowered standards of truth and a renewed archive of dirty little secrets. He doesn’t stop when the couple points in my direction.

Mile 17
I reach for change. 200Frs. On evenings when I am particularly excited, I argue the fare with, tease and try to get the best of cab drivers.
Today, I just want to go home.

Kawah
I hate it that I don’t see properly in the evening. Just like Dad. This makes me grateful every time I get into a cab.
A bittersweet reminder of the diversity and complementarity of all humans.

Miss Bright
“Miss Bright?”
“Yes.”

Coins clink. I step out. Will he give my 50 frs?
I watch him hesitate for a split second- wishful thinking that I would start moving into the street without taking my 50frs. He catches my gaze, smiles in the dark and stretches his arm.

“Thank you”.

He knows he lost the battle when he flinched. I know he is not in that taxi because he admired cab drivers as a child.
We both know he doesn’t deserve the extra 50frs.

Miss Bright Junction
It’s six past eight. The street light reflects on my glasses and blinds me for a moment. The bar squeezes the peace out of my ears. As the bikes beckon, asking if I would ride them into the pitiful excuse of a tarred road, I wonder whose father he was. Whether he had made the day’s quota and whether he was strong enough to carry on such a grueling profession.
The thought didn’t stop me from arguing with the young man dispensing pawpaws. I wondered if in another life, he would be retired and reaping the fruits of a well invested youth.
I wondered if he would remember me. The nonchalant, lenses borne quasi-blind dude.
Did I look like one of these Pawpaw fruits? Identical except with slight curves, color and fruity attitude?

“How much?”

Would he remember our moment?
“Cent ngoma for this small thing massa? Noo. Take piece.”

Did he consciously ignore the couple or was he just pleased that he had a passenger who didn’t want to be bothered as well.

“Thank you boh”.

Maybe. Maybe not.
In the end, like my pawpaw buddy, I would be just another face.

A Valentine Chuckle- Scene One

The following scene takes place in less than 5 minutes.

Her chuckle did it for me. Like a snort but with a little whistle from her mouth. The loveliest sound in the milky way.
She was with a dude. Stylish. Well dressed. With those silly looking hairstyles young men wore these days. “Crepe”- they called it. He made her chuckle.
I’d never met them in my life, but I knew the reason I choked on my spit was very different from the hunger that brought my sister and me to ‘Kuchina Restaurant’ that afternoon. What the hell was Sandra asking at this time again?

 

I saw him look in my direction. Our eyes didn’t meet but I knew what had attracted him to our angle. Mama always said I laughed like a pig and Greg here, with the silly Crepe-thingy ,just loved making me laugh so he, in turn, could laugh at me. I loved his style. He was contemporary. But not my type.
“The Onlooker” on the other hand, was dressed simply. White shirt and jeans. Tucked in. A little too old fashioned for his age. He could be about…twenty something. At most 30.
Funny how he choked. I hope he doesn’t think I’m with…oh. No. He does. I need to do something. He’s with a lady but the resemblance is too keen. That must be his sister. Or is she?

 

My brother hardly comes to Buea. When he does, I get the chance to steal some quality time so he can tell me all about his new life. What better place than his favourite restaurant.
Ugh. That girl has a funny laugh. Like a pig. In a restaurant? Ew. That’s just gross. Why is Martin looking at her like that? Does he know her?
“ Do you know that girl?”
He chokes. Martin? Choking. Ok. Something is up. And isn’t about the spices in the air. We need to sit as far away frm that table as possible. Or…wait…no way…he’s actually taking us closer…he means for us to get closer to…them?
That other guy is kinda cute though.

 

Taking a beautiful girl out is the best thing that can happen to you in Buea on the 14th of February. Even if it is not you chick (like Piggy Cynthia here) you can just act as though she is. It’s the points that matter right? Massa…man na fine man… The sad thing is that I have already been friendzone by her massa…and the fact that she’s with me means she doesn’t even have a boyfriend for now.
Wait…her laughter has changed. Ever since that white shirt dude entered, her laugh is louder. It’s as though she’s now laughing on purpose.
Could it be that she is…

My Apology Letter to @MTNCameroon; #BringBackMyInternet

Dear Y’ello Tiger,

An Apology for Being a Horrible Customer ( or Lover?)

This is the first time I have taken my pen (keyboard) to write to you. How are you? I was scared you had a chronic case of jaundice because you have always looked so …you know…Y’ello.
I understood what the obsession with the color all meant when I read on this weird thing called ‘branding’.

I know. I am as surprised as you are reading this. Yes. The last time we spoke, someone had told me I would be adding a ‘6’ in front of all my contact phone numbers. It took me a while to understand. Truth be told, I still don’t. But, given that you cover a huge portion of the Cradle of Life, you must definitely know what you are doing.

How are the kids? I hear you incubate now. I saw a host of young people playing with their phones a while ago. Thousands of them. Literally. Something about ‪#‎MTNChallenge‬ or whatever. That you had said you would fund their ideas. I love how you prod brains and select viable biz ideas to pursue.
Talk about business acumen. ‪

#‎UBeBoss‬.

I was just wandering eh…what do you do with the other ideas ? The other not-so-viable ones that DON’T get funded? Do you fund them secretly or something? Because I bet Cameroonian minds have gems when it comes to being creative. Especially with this thing called ‘3G’. A cousin came and made noise about it. Said she was the Next Tel or something. You know how paranoid I am sometimes.

I notice the wave of feminism had taken over the family. That is great. I hope KT is safe and sound. Given his ability to communicate (or not?) using Google Hangouts, I suppose he is okay. Extend my +regards.
I saw this #21days thing. Hum. Talk about ‪#‎CSR‬! You know your thing oh! So, you build homes in 21 days? Wow. How I wish you could apply that speed to your customer service.

Wait. I take that back. Don’t. Make it 21 SECONDS not DAYS.

Now, let me not waste your credit. That lady is always waiting for the reason why I call to tell me “Votre credit est insuffisant…” See eh. I don’t know whether you trained her in 21days too but she’s damn good.

I tried BRIGHT FUTURE.
So, er, here is the thing. I know we have had problems in the past. You were not very happy when I hooked up with MOBILIS 2.0 . You panicked and started sending messages, on the hour:

Do you want to eat? TEXT CHOPON to 7222 and get daily recommendations,
DO you want to text a friend and have no credit? TEXT I BEG YAH to 75667.

I get that. You were upset.

Also, there were times when you would just sit and send me credit. I was so glad! I would call everyone. Just like that! That was amazing…in the beginning.
What I did not realize was this: you had plans to take it all back!
Why did you do this? When we started dating, I did not say our relationship was exclusive. You need to be able to let go. I lost my phone. I had to change my sim card. You need to understand.
You’re right though. The problem is me. Not you. Because of that, I understood and forgave you.

I even decided to buy your WIMAX key. I thought it could serve as a truce. Chai. That key was sweet oh. White…sleek…cute…tempting the money out of my wallet. FCFA20000 I paid.
Guess what? THE VERY NEXT DAY YOU SLASHED THE PRICE BY HALF!
My love, why? WHY? Why would you do that to me?

That’s okay. I know relationships have ups and downs. I forgive you still. After all, your minions who answer the phone are very courteous and polite. I even have crush on one of the ladies.
I lied. I have crush on all of them.
So, like I said, I bought the key and you punished me for it. Then I forgave you. I then decided to make it up. I started purchasing airtime and surfing. Sometimes it would fail. Sometimes it would be awesome. My download speed never got to 1MB/S but, like I said, all relationships go through troubles. I still love you my yellow tiger.Four days ago , something else happened. I had switched to the 12am-6am tariff because of brokenness and lack of money.

A Net Detour
Let me pause a little and admit this: you mean a lot to me and many Cameroonians.
We can now use Whatsapp WITHOUT THE INTERNET!
I mean, come on, was it not thanks to you that I could send an sms with: ? Just that. A single question mark.
Before you graced us with ‪#‎MTNUnlimitext‬ , an SMS cost 50frs!
Can you imagine? TWO PUFFPUFFS! (Or ten if you prefer quantity to quality). But, tell me eh…is that thing really unlimited? Because, I don’t think so oh. I could be an idiot here and say I have proof. But who am I kidding? Who owns the servers?
I just think the chatteur of Molyko deserves to know that if he sends the same 150 character message to 300 potential chicks, he might not be able to reply.

Just shaying.

Anyway, back to the reason why we are here: four days ago, I precharged my mobile. FCFA3000. I had borrowed from you and, ‪#‎AlreadyWeKnow‬, you don’t joke with your debtors. You left me FCFA2764.
Then, I subscribed to ‪#‎MTN‬(Almost)Unlimitxt. Fab sang, na e you take am.
I then went home and waited for the darkest hour.
I plugged my sleek 20 nkolo WiMAX key. 27 DB. Not bad. I opened the login page.( Kudos to your designers eh. The simplicity is elegant). I logged in and renewed my MTN NITE successfully.
Then all network hell was let lose.

1. My key disconnected. Alone. ‪#‎NaWitch‬?
2. The transaction went through. I checked on my phone and I have 264 frs left.
3. I have not been able to connect. Green light doesn’t change to yellow blinking one.
4. Oh, did I mention the validity of the bundle is 7 days from activation?

So, my love, I want to beg for forgiveness. Maybe you heard I went on a date with Next tel‬. You have ears( literally) everywhere. I apologize.

Thine 3G shant be doubted, your royal networkness.

Please eh, reconnect my key. I want to browse. I have to stalk research.What do you want from me? How can we make this right? I know you’re Everywhere I go, so, let’s talk soon and sort this out. Or do I prepare the divorce papers?

Sincerely,
Your distraught lover (customer)
674231654.
P.S: Sometimes messages don’t go through. That should not surprise you anyway.. And I have not been able to connect to the internet in a while. #AlreadyWeKnow. So, I may be slow to respond. Forgive me my tiger.
1010

“Silicon Mountain Conference”: Why now?

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The #Team237 Community hosts the  Silicon Mountain Conference and I will be the Master of Ceremony.

Nice huh? The event takes place tomorrow, June 20, at Eta Palace from 5 pm to 8pm with theme:

LET’S BUILD PRODUCTS.

Present at this gathering would be: entrepreneurs, startup founders, software engineering students, many mentors, product builders , users and a host of influencers.  The agenda includes keynote speeches from:

1. Churchill Mambe, CEO @ Njorku (A Story of Silicon Mountain)

2. Isaac Kamga GDG Mentor for Cameroon – (An Appraisal of efforts and participants)   and

3. Otto Akama, Community Manager at ACTIVspaces, Buea Chapter (Building Products – The next step of our journey)

Projects in progress will be presented as well as new platforms e.g. BITs by Benyella Njeko and the #MadeInBuea platform championed by Churchill.

The aim of the conference is to get the whole community on the same page, defining the journey ahead, while also celebrating the community’s success in 2014’s objective of building a ‘Community that Codes’Disrupt Africa Article by avid African tech sniffer-Tom Jackson.

The Buea area (Silicon Mountain) is the most attractive to tech startups in Cameroon. With conferences like this, we believe we can be the most attractive in Africa because in the Silicon Mountain, we do real things”– My Aunty Yefon on  her awesome blog. Read her full post here.

You see, the reason why this event interests me in particular is the fact that this #techosystem has been existing for a long time. A few successful products have emerged from Buea- Wasamundi, Fee Perfect and  Njorku include those which have made considerable progress( and #WebNoise).

Keyword: Successful

I don’t mean millions of Frs CFA valuation or IPOs. These are startups that have simply been able to survive the very harsh startup environment in Buea and Cameroon at large.

Wasamundi for example has been around since 2009. If not on the ground, then at least in the minds of Nara Lawrence and Quincy Kwende.

Platforms aimed towards building products for local (and global) communities using new technologies have been around Buea and Cameroon for a long time.

So, why is this the first time you are hearing about such a conference?

Some would say the time wasn’t ripe, or the idea and the synergy was inexistent.

I may not be a coder or one of the startup founders, but I have been in this ecosystem for 7 years. And I can comfortably say that I saw this “community” take shape with the actions of a small group of people.

Is that claim preposterous? Maybe. Should you believe me? Don’t.

Exhibit A: This link goes to the GDG Buea Community on Google +.

Exhibit B: This one, goes to one of the 12 (TWELVE) Google Summer of Code 2015 (GSOC2015) participants I discussed with on labour day.

Do you see a trend here?

Maybe not. What about this?

GSOC numbersWhat does that ’12’ in front of Cameroon means?

Star Witness

As you may have seen in recent posts, there are many students and mentors throughout Africa and all around the world working very hard to spread the word about GSoC to their communities. We are happy to announce that Cameroon quadrupled their number of accepted students in 2015 to 12!”- Read the full Google Open Source Post Here.

This same select group of people have been organizing events and making noise all over the internet about Buea and the tech community.

And, I think it is time they are fully recognized for their role in this movement.

I may not have the full story of why and how Isaac Kamga moved from Google Developer Group Manager for Buea to Google Developer Group Mentor for Cameroon.

Or how the Checks have taken Google Student Ambassadorship to a different level.

Or why Tah Teche’s work wasn’t felt( or was it just that it didn’t affect me directly?)

But as long as I have a mouth and a keyboard, I ask and rant.

You’re not going to climb this mountain alone 🙂

Stay tuned!

#KamgaOut

CAMWATER #BRINGBACKMYWATER!!!

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Sometimes, I wish I could drink sea water.

(As of the publication of this post, water has started flowing in my hostel. Here’s the caveat: it flows only from about 1AM to 4AM every two days. I get to sacrifice sleep for H2O. Great.)

This is bullshit. Where did all the water go?

I have lived in Molyko, Buea for the past 7 years. 7 bloody years and never have I spent a week in such a nasty predicament.

“My line is different from the others across. But, it seems the others too have the same problem. But your neighbors say….also I have heard that…you see…”

When my landlord (cum caretaker) was trying to explain why our taps had not been flowing for the past 7 days, I was feeling way too sleepy to quip or prod further. Added to my stoned mood was the fact that I had, at the time, a 60 liter drum half filled with water I could use to take a bath and …er…do other stuff.

So, I wasn’t bothered. Dumb me.

6 Days Later

All my clothes are dirty. My toilet stinks. I have no idea how I will take a bath tomorrow morning and I have a Continuous Assessment at 9 a.m.

And oh, did I mention I don’t have water to drink either?

What is wrong with this town?! Seriously! WTF??

I pay rents (actually…er…my parents do). Everyone who lives in a hostel pays too! When #ENEO does its epileptic electrical display of force, all we can do is complain, eat and sleep. At least, you can smell nice while complaining. I would not wish to have written the G.C.E this year. Goodbye to late night revisions…

What happens when I can’t wash my pots, cook, take a bath and eat BEFORE being disgruntled?

If it were a hostel issue, we would probably have burnt our landlord on a stake by now.

Who do I complain to? It’s rainy season (or is it?); the breeze snickers as I bundle clothes over my shoulder. A tactile reminder of the true color of ‘the town of legendary hospitality’.

After spending a day in school; exhausted, hungry and in need of a shower, what do I get?

A stuffy room and a mound of laundry. I don’t even know what the hell I will wear tomorrow.

What sort of bullshit life is this? Who do I hold responsible? Do I buy mineral water to do LAUNDRY with?

They say ‘Water is life’. Really guys? Really? Water WHICH I DON’T HAVE is life?

I suppose I am lifeless now.

Gosh!

This is frustrating. Take away all the electricity you want. In fact eh, take away my already debilitating internet access.

But …#BRINGBACKMYWATER!

A holed bag of tricks

If I don’t get water tomorrow, I have a couple of options:

  1. Crumble of insalubrity like a pillar of salt.
  2. Recycle piss, sweat and saliva. I know it’s not going to work. But, ‘When there’s hope…’
  3. I have no third option.

I don’t know what to do. I don’t have water to take a bath, do laundry or even drink.  I’m essentially, screwed.

Shit.

Oh wait…even that I can’t do.

Reality 101: My suggestion to all Cameroonian Institutions

(c) flicker user: ajc1

(c) flicker user: ajc1

In my department ( Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Buea),  doing the news for at least a week is a compulsory part of our training. Either as reporters or producers. During this ‘newsweek‘ we cover events on campus, in the region, the nation and in the world. The News goes on air from Monday to Friday at 6pm. Every Saturday, there is a News Magazine– a compilation of all the major news stories during the week. Additionally, the News Magazine carries a Press Review and an Editorial, written and read by the producer for that newsweek. During mine, I was the producer. It took place in the week that followed the 11th of February dubbed  the ‘Youth Day’.  My editorial focused on the speech our president  gave this year and my suggestion on what we should be taught in ‘institutions of higher learning’. Who am I to suggest? What qualification do I have?

Honestly, I am not qualified. But I can’t sit and watch either. 

 

On the 11 of February every year, the president of the nation addresses the youth…

In this year’s address, what struck a cord of agreement with many, was the degree of unemployment in our country. Especially given the strides taken by the government in the form of actions through the National Employment Fund.
My interest, however, was piqued when the president acknowledged the need from radical reform in our educational system. He and I agree when he says: ” There is the need for professional education”.
Now, for four days last week, a symposium themed: “Perspective of inclusive education in West and Central Africa with multidisciplinary focus”, took place in the Dorothy Limunga Njeuma Amphitheatre of the University of Buea. This week’s news crew followed the event all through. I was particularly interested again when one of the participants expressed his lack of faith in the symposium because of the lack of key actors in the education sector at that gathering.
My worries the following:
1. Why can “professionals” afford to be absent from “professional” trainings like the said symposium?
2.Who will employ the youth and
3. When will we have the educational overhaul we so badly need?
Today is exactly 2 months since the president made his speech. And, in approximately 9 months a horde of 3000 plus job seekers will be pumped into the unemployment garden fondly termed “Chomencam” (Chomage( Unemployment) du Cameroun).

3000 JOB SEEKERS

I stress on job seekers because that is what I feel the University milieu provides as training to the the Cameroonian minds.
Rich in theory, inadequate in character and practice, and worse, White collar job addicts.
How can an educational reform take place when departments offering “professional” training  are understaffed? When admission requirements are malleable and teaching is more or less cosmetic?
How can we be trained as proessionals when the tools we need to master our trade are depreciated, undermaintained , and the lecturers are either under-used for their true potential   or overwhelmed by work?
How can WE be ready for a job market when the handwriting on the wall is clear but ‘everyone’ seems to either myopic or, like me, astigmatic:
THERE IS NO JOB MARKET.
( Note: I sought data to prove this . All I found was outdated databases. If you have sources , I would be very grateful).
The only way I see unemployment reducing is the day High School students realise the University is NOT supposed to train you to seek jobs but to make them. However, when I go through my rich educational curricullum and course outlines, I don’t find any course titled REALITY 101.

The Course  and course of the Future

All students, lecturers and professors need this course. Here is my suggestion for the content of this ‘Inclusive and Exclusive’ University Requirement. In fact eh, high school students should be allowed to attend as well.
Course Code: Reality 101
Course Title: Dear Youth, Don’t Seek Jobs. Create Jobs
Lesson 1: The Job Market is Saturated
Lesson 2: Your Country Needs You.
Lesson 4: Time Waits For Nobody
and the final lesson – Sooner or Later, We all die.
The course, of course, will be spread throughout Students’ University Years. With  no credit value because anyone who passes this course would have created jobs.
Anyone who fails, well…would work for those who passed.
🙂
The educational reform we need is going to happen whether we want it or not. Maybe in 2035.
Use of Buzz word. Check.
But multiply 3000 by each year we waste by and that is the same number of young, ambitious and energy fillled Cameroonian minds we waste.
We don’t need the 11th of February to be reminded we need jobs.
What we need is REALITY 101.