University of Buea

ASJUB Trip: Day 0

“If you don’t expect anything from anyone, you will never be disappointed”- James Altucher

I did not expect anything from the annual Academic trip organized by the Association of Student Journalists, University of Buea- ASJUB. So, I am not only NOT disappointed but, elated I’d changed my mind and taken these three days from Buea to Yaoundé and back.

A lot happened. Fun mostly. Great conversations and the discovery of awesome people. If I were to attempt to give an ‘account’ of the trip, I would miss out a lot. Fact. That’s why I have constituted a picture gallery (lightest),  an audio slideshow with music only (lighter) and an audio slideshow with voice clips and interviews from most of the participants( light). As usual, not everyone was in love with me so, I did not get everyone to speak. That’s okay. I wasn’t expecting anyone to agree to speak.

So, we both win!

Day 0:

On the afternoon I changed my mind, I had been thinking of a new business idea. A food delivery service. I had no idea how to write had been caught up with the intricacies of a business plan. I was stuck and getting unhappy. I don’t like being unhappy. I called Joshua so that we meet in school and work on the initial stages of the venture.  I then headed to campus to meet him and connect to the internet. There, I found two students waiting for the president of the association to come give their departmental T-shirts, PRESS badges and the programme for the trip. They were all supposed to meet at 1pm on campus. I look at my phone.

1.30pm.

Of course I laugh at joke with them and hangout. I don’t know Ebai that much and Alida is the younger sister of my nursery school crush. Seriously. I had a nursery school crush. I have the pictures if you want proof. But, that’s another story.

Ebai and Alida are freshmen. Excited about the trip ( why else would they be still here after the delay?) After a while, a couple of students who have equally paid for the trip arrive at the meet-up point: Beverly ( freshman), Noella, Ivorita and Marvellous ( second year students). Marvelous ‘Marvy’ Ngale  is the vice public relations officer of the ASJUB and he does his job. He assures the slowly pissed  students that the president was on her way. According to his account, she had been stuck at the printer’s and would soon arrive.

The very slightly infuriated students connive to express discontent when the president arrives:

“Nobody should smile,” Noella instructs the rest.

If they can’t have her there when they expect, at least they would show how ireful they were.

Soon enough, an out of breath Gabrielle appears laden down with a huge white sack containing T-shirts and badges. She is moving as fast as she can, sweating, panting and smiling nervously.

Noella can’t help it. She smiles back and rushes to help her president.

After the reasons for her late coming had been cleared and (almost) everyone was comfortable with his/her T-shirt,( there is always someone whose garment either fits too well or is too loose. Always.).  Gabbie needs to go continue to make the arrangement.

Can someone still pay now?” I half-hope she would say “NO!”

“Of course”, she says “We are 16 of us and we need to pick up Sandy from Douala plus Trevor and Penn who are already in Yaoundé making arrangements.

“If you’re certain to pay tonight”, she hands me a t-shirt “Here’s yours”.

A few hours earlier, I had called Joshua so we could work on market research for my business idea. Now, in a few hours I will be miles away.

Who said life was predictable?

After robbing a passer-by making a few calls, I get the money required for the trip.

I don’t even know what I will take to Yaoundé. The last time I went for the trip, I was one of those in charge. This time, I am an ‘in charge-ee’. How would that be like? Will I be able to wake up at 5 am so as to be at UB junction by 6.30 am? Will I forget a pair of socks and be miserable for the next three days? Will I get missing in the capital? (My list of things I am horrible at has:  city maps and roads  at position 28 and 31 respectively.)

When I stroll down from Malingo Street with Miike Snow’s ‘Silvia’ blaring in my headphones, I barely see the other humans on the street. My mind is far off to ‘la capitale’. I know it is going to be exciting. Every change of environment is for me.

I get home and plug-in all my devices to make sure all are ready to shoot/ record/ tape. As I fail to fend off insomnia.  I know the reason why I am so enthused is that I know deep in my eye sockets that tomorrow is going to be different.

But, how?

Advertisements

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.

 

Of Mentors, Workshops and Aunties

In 1995 I had my first surgery. I have had two more ever since. I don’t like hospitals very much. Maybe it is because of my condition. Meh.

Surgeries and Bus Trips

I was 5 at the time of my first procedure. I had to travel with my Mom from Bafoussam to Douala where my Auntie, my mother’s elder sister, lives.  I remember it as my first longest journey.I am horrible with maps and locations but I have done that journey for the past 7 years now and the average time is 4 and a half hours.

Imagine that with a 5 year old’s notion of time; that must have been months.

I also remember that before going to Douala, as the unwritten custom demanded, I needed to have a haircut. Something very funny happened at the barber’s . Sadly, this is not the day you find out.

It is only a few weeks ago that I came to discover that 1995 had more significance to me that I had held. That same year, I met someone who I will only come to meet again after 2013 (online through her blog), chat with (via Facebook), and respect (through various workshops including the one I will barely mention here).

My Auntie in Douala has four children. So does my mom. Actually, almost all my mom’s sisters have four children.

#Interesting

Anyway, when I was in Douala, my Auntie’s daughters were in college at the time.

I treasure the memories of my stay  there.The first song I learnt at home from the Cameroon Hymnal with Auntie Tina, and how Auntie Ju sneered at my day long hunger bouts.

I love those women.

I call them ‘Auntie’ because…well…they are really older than I am and I can’t afford to comfortably call them by first name.

Plus, they are more like mothers to me than cousins. In every way.

Now, in 1995, Aunty Ju and Auntie Tina were High School students at Our Lady Of Lourdes Secondary School; a respectable single sex boarding institution in the Northwest region of the Country.

Dear reader, we both know my stance on boarding schools.

Well, what I later came to find out was that my cousins were school mates with the person whose name just joined my list of mentors. And that she and I met during my stay in Douala.

 

Dear mentor, I don’t need your permission to take you as a mentor.

In 2012, I stopped my four years of Medical Laboratory Science studies and returned home. Sources say I was not motivated.

My reason is totally different. That, again, is another story.

My first week  in Bafoussam after my decision to quit school was a painful one. This is a euphemism: my parents were extremely displeased with my decision.

I started reading James Altucher’s blog that week. I have never stopped since. James became my mentor and taught me how to choose myself.

My father spares no effort at making his children comfortable.  If I am half the man he is, I would have a very proud family of my own. My father was my mentor before I even started walking.

That is probably why I swam the fastest.

Don’t smile.

Too late. 

Since 2007 I have been in Buea. I have watched the town grow as a tech hub and I have talked with a good number of entrepreneurs. Nara Lawrence of Wasamundi stands as my best bet for a future boss. He is one of the most inspiring minds I have met in my short life. Nara is my mentor.

Last year, I wrote a blog post pointing out the similarity between Stanley Enow’s hit single and a song by Chris Brown. At the time I was totally ignorant about music. I still am. It is thanks to people like Muriel Wondja and her blog that I have come to understand what Stanley Enow is actually selling. I love her blog and her drive. She blogs by night and probably works or studies by day. Find her on twitter #IamTeamMessyDawnForever #MyMentor

Richard Branson built Virgin Galactic from a school magazine. He IS a kick ass mentor…mine!

William Takor is one of the best designers I know. Maybe the only thing we have in common is a distaste for phonies (not unlike J.D. Salinger’s Holden C.). However, his designs and occasional articles inspire me.

I have a huge list of mentors. Probably one for every field of life.  This blog won’t be enough. But I will try to put them all down.

Just…not today.

Yefon Kathleen Mainsah went to school with my cousins .  She is the founder and editor of irepcamer.wordpress.blogspot.com. A chemical engineer turned social media pundit. 

No idea how that happened. 

She amazes me with her energy. I found out about our mutual family a few weeks back.

Ever since, I call her Aunty Yefon.  She deserves it.

Me and my Aunty Yef!

Me and my Aunty Yef!

 

 

Yesterday, she held a workshop for my department (Journalism and Mass Communication) at the University of Buea. It was themed: “Branding, Social Media and Blogging”.

You will not get a report about the workshop from me. Sorry, but as much as I have been trained in news writing, I do not enjoy the activity. I find it too factual and boring.

I prefer this: Yefon Mainsah would make an awesome mentor. I know because she is mine.

(Shhh…She doesn’t know)

 

Workshops and Other Light Mares.

At Amphi 150 E at the University of Buea

At Amphi 150 E at the University of Buea

While Aunty Yefon spent some time resting, the electricity was cut off. We were still setting up the hall because of some red tape induced misunderstanding.

No lights! A nightmare for any speaker right?

Well, not for Aunty Yef.

In her slightly hoarse voice she said:” It’s Okay. Let’s start with a discussion”.

In the heat of the discussions.

In the heat of the discussions.

Energetic, optimistic, loud (in an endearing way), cultured, bold and…wait for it…pretty short!

Yep. For all what she has accomplished, and plans to, Aunty Yefon just confirms the rule:

Do not mess with the short people. They are deadly when set to accomplish a goal.

Did someone say Napoleon? Or Stalin?

I feed on positive energy. And the whole of yesterday, I was euphoric. The hall too seemed to be. The students were strangely interested in finding out a lot of stuff. One question even had a clause:

“Are you married? If yes then…”

I guess the curious cat resurrected in Amphitheater 150 E.

Oh…and did I say she was generous? Yeah…always walking around with gift bags for ‘the proactive ones’.

When I talk to an entrepreneur, I feel lights in my brain… I feel like I am high.

Yep. I know because I have been high before and it is awesome. You just don’t want to be all the time. Life sort of passes you by.

Plus, it is supposed to be an experiment, not a lifestyle.

LSDs? Steve Jobs anyone?

I was high yesterday. Not because of the workshop.

Ok. Fine. It was because of it. I…hum…stole the presentation. I was too happy enjoying the hall I barely paid attention. What would you have me do?! Skip on the opportunity?

You Pharisee…!

Checkout the poster I did:

My Non-designer's design

My Non-designer’s design

 

I hope we will have more of these. I think the English speaking Cameroonians need a larger online presence in the form of blogs. Especially younger and more passionate bloggers.                                  Auntie Yefon agrees: 

“Don’t tell them to start blogging, just say ‘write online’. The term ‘blogging’ seems to scare them”.

Thank you for reading. I would be glad if I could get your comments.     And oh…if you’re on Facebook or Twitter, let’s chat.

See you around.

T.  Kamga.