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).


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:
( 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.


Breaking my silence with a BACK TO SCHOOL rant.

Am I right or am I right?

I have been writing a couple of posts. Hoping to have a steady flow of updates so that you might not get bored with my awful stories. I am sorry but I have to start with this…simple…post because of one simple reason:

My sisters are going back to school.

I had once written on how I hate boarding schools. I might need to detail my hate. Not today. Today, I’ll rant about my sisters going ——-BACK TO SCHOOL and why it bothers me.

 La rentrée scholaire( excuse my French)

My sisters have been packing their trunks for weeks now. Deodorant here, stockings there, detergent here, chips there…it looks like a surgery room.

Especially since I don’t know the use of half of the items.

In fact all the items except the edibles.

They will both be heading to lower sixth- the last but one class before University (college).

Leila intends to study pediatrics and Sonia wants to get into Journalism (I guess I can be a role model after all…).

Leila loves children. That is her reason to pursue medicine. I would not lie -I am not convinced. I don’t doubt her capacity to succeed. Not at all. She just made it at the GCE with the 10 papers she sat for. That should be enough to express readiness to engage the world and make a career decision.

Or is it?

After spending close to five years moseying from one faculty to another, I developed a keen sense of passion.  I can smell passion and she doesn’t  stink of it …yet. Or maybe I am just intimidated by her blind trust. Who cares? I know she will do whatever she puts her mind to. I just think the earlier, the better.

She will probably never read this post but she knows she can always count on me (and I will shut my mouth when she takes her decisions). Who am I to decide the future of the youth?

Look at those smiles…so much ahead of them.

Sonia will be a great communicator. I can see it. If and only if  she taps into her true self. She has time to learn.  I just think that- like the average Cameroonian youth (including me) – she doesn’t read as much as she should. She has many talents and skills. If she could just harness herself to reach a slightly above average level in any, she would do great.

They are young. They have time.

Or do they?

They are getting into that class at the same time that I did. The same time I made the mistake that stayed in my tracks like the Dahaka. (Dahaka: from Prince of Persia- The Sands of Time: mythical demon that chased the Prince to restore balance. From the moment he used the Sands of Time to go back in time and save his father’s kingdom from the evil Vizier, the Dahaka never, ever relented).

I had to choose myself in 2012(borrowing there from my mentor James Altucher) and it takes a lot of meditation and self-assessment to find one’s ‘purpose’. I don’t even think I am close.

What I have achieved so far is that I have stopped worrying about ‘what I want to become’ and focus on ‘who I am’ not ‘who I was’.

I read a lot. Researched a lot. I am still doing that. I don’t see my sisters doing it and that bothers me.

But hey…who am I to decide the route for self-discovery? I found mine through introspection and self-analysis.

Not forgetting a lot of frustration.

I searched the stuff that made me happy in the past. Listening to myself and shutting the noise out.

“This Medical Lab Science thing pays eh!”

 “With a PhD in Public Health you could go really far”.

“You can do anything with 6As and 5Bs. But the sciences are better”

It takes passion and a great amount of selfishness to achieve self-discovery. I will argue that later.

My sisters are going to school and my parents like the average Cameroonian parent- are under the regular stress of school fees. I still think my sisters don’t value the money spent.

Just like I did.

They are worried about being hassled by the Upper Sixth Students and portraying badass attitudes.


Primary school was the best time ever.

(As though I did not do the same…)

It is expensive sending a child to a good boarding school in Cameroon. If you have attended one or have a child or relative in one, you would understand what it takes to dish out close to 500,000 FrsCFA per head at the beginning of academic year and sustain the return in January after the Christmas Break, and after the second term break.

This amount excludes transport fares and other prerequisites.

All the ‘chin-chin’, plantain chips, fried groundnuts, biscuits etc.( these ‘reserves’ usually finish in a less than a month!) and other alimentary requirements ( oh…glorious Garri! ) cost money. For some parents, it is easy to afford these.

For others, not that easy.

Did I mention boarding schools provide three square meals for every students?

Sending a child to school requires greek courage. Sending a child to boarding school requires you to be Achilles.

My parents have their weaknesses but they have never, ever spared any expense at giving us a proper education. I spent seven years in St. Bede’s College Ashing-Kom. So did my brother. My sisters are both in their fifth year. I am grateful for the teachers. But I wonder whether education should cost that much.

Again, I will argue that later.

Tomorrow, the second wife of the house and my first baby will be going back to school.  They will study hard and make good grades. Or not.

I just hope they will have fun.

Happy Sunday.

“I have NEVER thought of getting married to a Bamileke!”

Her argument was simple: not being a bamileke herself, the man’s family will always pressure him to get married to a Bamileke woman AND he would either end up sending her away to get a Bamileke bride or get a second wife, “sometimes …third…”she mouthed disgustfully.
I had nothing concrete to debunk her statement. When I look at my own family, all the women(3) on my mother’s side got married to the men from ONE village- Bafang and both their village (Badjoun) and their husbands’ fall under the Bamileke tribe. Maybe someone needs to do research on this hyphothesis if it has not yet been done.
Marriage is a very important part of the lives of those who CHOSE to get married. You can’t just marry anyone. However, I wonder if my peers (youths) actually do give a thought on this.
My friend is from the Northwest Region of the country and particularly from Mankon( Check tribe). We were discussing on the topic of marriage before she made that statement and launched her argument. My comeback was that: this doesn’t work in all instances and that in my home, for example, my parents have very simple demands as concerns the person I will marry.
For my mom it’s not very complicated. Her argument is not racist but rather one of a clash of culture. To her, if I get married to a European, American or Asian or ‘White’, if a fight comes-up, she could up and away with the kids leaving me alone ( as if I too can’t run away with the kids…duh). “Also”, she adds, “the kids will be far away!” I know she wants to be a grandmother…I understand she would want to have her grandchildren around her. So simply: “ Don’t get married to white”.
My Dad’s the best. One day I asked:
“Dad…what kind of a person would you like me to marry?”
He was very happy. It was as though he had been waiting for this day to give me the marriage version of ‘the talk’. He put down the remote, looked into my eyes like never before, beckoned me to come closer then he asked in his characteristic friendly baritone:
“Will I be in YOUR house with you? Will I raise YOUR kids? Will I live with YOUR wife? My son, it’s your life. Make the choice but know the consequences. If you are happy, I’m happy.”
That was it. He summed it all. That is the answer I gave my friend. Is it the family that lives with the man or the wife? Why would they decide to stay within the tribe or whatever?
Let’s even look at evolution: does the tribe not stand a better chance of surviving if the gene pool is increased? What if you marry you great-grandfather nephew’s daughter’s uncle’s grandchild? Is that not incest? (By the way I just made that family tree up…I have no idea if it is.)
The point is: marriage is not a joke. Young people should think about it.
When she asked me:
“Ok. So… how do you know the kind of person you would like to marry?”
I said I would like to marry someone I’d love to talk to and who would love to talk to me. I believe communication is the key and that when we can communicate, there is no trouble we won’t surmount…for there is ALWAYS trouble in a marriage. I have been at the front seat of THAT kind of trouble.
“What if after two years you don’t feel like talking to the person anymore?”
I was like: “Does it mean you would be getting a divorce every two years?!”
I have no idea what I would do if that happens to me. It is clear from Hollywood that marriages can last for a week or a year …or two sometimes depending on the pre-nuptial agreement signed. Also, people have chosen the wrong persons and after a divorce or two (or more) met the right person.
My mentor, http://www.jamesaltucher.com , is clearly extremely happy with his second wife, Claudia Altucher.My observation then is that: marriage is neither an exact science nor exact religion either because once humans are involved…nothing makes sense.
I think we should think about marriage BEFORE we get into it. We should date prospective WIVES and not just kill time with ‘chicks’, ‘Ngas’ or ‘Maa’ or (insert condescending nominal term chosen to describe female counterparts in a love relationship). The ladies are not exempted either. Some nice guys (like yours truly,) have been victims of ladies without prospects!!
Like in the http://www.TED.com video by MEG JAY, we prepare our married lives now.
I used to have a pretty long list of criteria my future wife would have. I used to seek for these qualities in girlfriends and would often feel silently disappointed when I didn’t find a few. I call that list “The List”. I had about 20 or so items on the list. Now I have just one. Now you know what my next post will be on…
How about you? What is your take on marriage and the selection of a spouse…for life?