Interview: “We Need A Concrete Cultural Industry”

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Yaah Dr Asheri Kilo Fofung, Lecturer, Performing Arts, University of Yaounde I and Buea and Technical Adviser MINAC, talks on the cultural industry in Cameroon.

How would you analyse artistic productions in Cameroon this year?

Cameroon is improving in its cultural productivities and the role of the Ministry of Arts and Culture is to promote these creative activities. We need to build a proper cultural industry in Cameroon that is why the Ministry of Arts and Culture tries as much as possible to support budding artists as well as those who have already made a name. Cameroonian writers and musicians have been creative but this will depend on individual’s judgment. Creativity is something that is inner and comes through inspiration.

There are many people who are very inspired but it is only the best of their works that comes to the fore and the Ministry of Arts and Culture will always promote the best. The ministry has sponsored book publications that are good, good music as well as painters that are doing good artistic works. The idea is to go for the best. Meanwhile, artists that are still working are encouraged to work because excellence is the goal of the Ministry of Arts and Culture.

Reports indicate that a lot of problems usually come up each time author’s right dues are to be distributed. What is responsible for that and how can the problems be solved definitely?

Artists themselves have fully understood what their rights are. Clearly, they have organized themselves into four guilds which is a good way to get things done correctly. There is the musical artists’ guild, the literature/writers guild, photographers and painters’ artist’s guilds. These associations are supposed to be organised in such a way that each time their arts work is exploited, whoever is exploiting them pays for it. An example is the musical artists’ guild in which TV and radio stations that exploit their works pay an amount of money into their account.

At the end of every quarter, they are supposed to sit and share whatever is available. However, the problem is that the artists themselves are not united enough and have not been able to determine who is who within their creative industry. We cannot compare an artist like Manu Dibango with somebody who just started playing music yesterday. If there is any financial reward given to Manu Dibango, it cannot be same with somebody who started playing music two years ago.

The artists themselves have done some categorisation, but it is for them to follow and respect it strictly. The artists themselves have to be organised. The Ministry of Arts and Culture only supports and guides the artists. There is an organ created by the ministry to control and follow-up what the different guilds are doing while ensuring that when there is financial reward, it is distributed according to the percentages that the artists themselves have agreed upon.

Music has a great role to play as far as culture is concerned. Do you think the songs nowadays from our musicians are still worth the salt?

It is a question of taste. But there are different opinions about what type of music should be played. There are huge verities of music and the audiences are different. People have different taste and ways to appreciate different types of music. But I insist on what is good. What is good has to be technically good. How the sounds come together, what lyrics the musicians are using and how the melody blends with his lyrics and whether or not the public will like.

Talking about the old makossas, they were very good pieces of music. They were played based on our traditional rhythms. But today, there are young people who play just anything and get into all types of controversies. Some of the music’s are even banned.  What we want artists to know is that they have to stay within a certain degree of morality and their language has to be acceptable because it is the right of citizens to listen to proper language.

From a cultural stand point, vulgarity and rude languages should not be tolerated in musical productions. We are raised from a culture where seniority is respected; the community is respected as well as values.

What should be done to improve on the lyrics of most musical productions?

The Ministry of Arts and Culture is trying to build the National Institute of Arts and Culture. The pedagogic and technical blocks are already under construction and there is hope that once the decree to set up the structures that will govern the institution is ready, then courses will begin. It is a school where the ministry intend to train artists in all the aspects of arts; music, cinema, theatre, painting and drawing.

Artists will be taught the fundamental of the art. Arts do not happen in vacuum. People get the inspiration but there are fundamentals of getting it beautiful. It is important to note that art is beautiful. If art is not beautiful, then it is not art.

How do you foresee the cultural landscape in the country? 

I see that it is going to be a lot more improved. From 2015, we have already accomplished a lot and we hope to accomplish more. At the Ministry of Arts and Culture, we have a three year programme and whatever we started in the last three years; we need to complete it within the next three year. So, we will do a follow-up and continuation of what we are doing. However, the establishment of a concrete cultural industry is very important.

The committees for arts and letters that study the applications of artists who want support from the ministry has been reinstated and there is hope that at the beginning of 2016, files will be studied and support given to the artists. There will be follow-up to ensure that whatever money taken from the government coffers is effectively used to produce results that will be seen and appreciated by the population.

Cameroon Tribune

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Cameroonian army defeats several Boko Haram incursion attempts – Official

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The Cameroon defense and security forces have defeated several incursion attempts by the Nigerian Islamist sect Boko Haram during the night from Wednesday to Thursday, APA learns from security sources.

In anticipation of New Year’s Eve celebrations on Thursday, the terrorist group tried several incursions into Cameroonian territory, all of which resulted in a miserable failure.

“In the morning, terrorists tried to attack Fotokol, Kerawa, Dabaga localities but we managed to repel their assaults”, the security sources said.

In its response, the Cameroonian military killed 20 militants while others re-crossed the border to take refuge in Nigeria.

“The military high command is on the alert because we expect attacks in this period of festivities marking the beginning of a new year. We have considered this news to reinforce our positions”, the central command of the Fourth Military Region in Maroua explains.

The government reiterates vigilance to people since suicide bombers could take advantage of the festivities of the New Year to make their incursion among the people and commit suicide attacks.


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Cameroon: Over 2,000 workers illegally collecting salaries unmasked

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Efforts by the Public Service in 2015 led to the unmasking of over 2,000 workers illegally collecting salaries and allowances.

The story of the bloated Cameroon Civil Service and the financial incidence to the State purse is not new, with efforts to rein in culprits and their accomplices dating back to the mid eighties. However, each time the attempt is made to stem the scourge, the tricksters seem to become wiser by developing new techniques. Consequently, the State monthly wage bill has continued to rise exponentially without a truthful corresponding increase in the number of workers.

And so, it was no surprise to watchers of the Cameroon Civil Service after it was announced in 2015 that at least 2,000 people were collecting undue salaries and allowances from the State. Of particular concern were teachers who continued to collect teaching and research allowances long after being assigned to other positions outside of the classroom.

Earlier in late August 2015, the Ministry of Public Service and Administrative Reforms published over 10,000 names of suspected ghost workers, giving them a week to clarify their situation. Those who failed to do so were going to have their salaries cut, the Ministry warned.

The measure was in line with the transition from the current management of State employees with two softwares – the Integrated Computerised System of Human Resources, SIGIPES and Antelope. The new system will merge the two softwares. It is against this backdrop that Prime Minister Philemon Yang instructed that only civil servants recognised by their user ministries be transferred to the new computerised system, SIGIPES II.

The Permanent Secretary of Administrative Reforms, Chancel Ako Takem, explained that the 10,000 workers could not be identified as belonging to any ministry. He therefore urged them to meet Directors of Human Resources in their ministries to clear the air.

Cameroon Tribune

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The 7th Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights, scheduled to be held from the 8th of February to the 12th of February 2016, has been launched in Accra.

The Conference will deliberate on sexual and reproductive health of adolescents and youth sub-types including early, middle and late adolescents, adolescent and youth living with Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV), youth in conflict situations and youth living with disabilities.

It will also discuss issues on the vulnerable, excluded and key/marginalized populations, sexuality education, youth-friendly services, forced/early marriage, adolescent motherhood, abortions, gender-based violence and maternal morbidity, and mortality.

Apart from expert meetings, constituency-focused meetings and capacity-building workshops, pre-conferences— Youth pre-conference, Women’s pre-conference, Parliamentarians’ pre-conference and Media pre-conferences— will also be held.

The five-day Conference, which is being organized by the African Federation for Sexual Health and Rights (AFSHR), will be hosted by Curious Minds, Ghana and under the proud patronage of the First Lady of the Republic of Ghana, Her Excellency Lordina Mahama.

The theme for the Conference is ‘Realizing Demographic dividend—The Critical Importance of Adolescents and Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights’

In address to launch the conference, His Excellency Girmay Haile, Country Director, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) in Ghana, noted that the high migration rate, management of urban populations and HIV and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) were major challenges for governments to deal with in the next twenty years.

His Excellency Girmay said the Conference was necessary as it would provide a platform for the discussion of such issues in an effort to find solutions to them.

In a statement, Dr Babatunde Ahonsi, Country Representative, United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), said there was the need to recognise and fulfil the reproductive and sexual rights of all young people, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity, and ensure access to health education and services, including safe and legal abortion.

Dr Ahonsi described the 7th Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights as part of the process of deepening the discourse and moving forward of the agenda of addressing the challenges of policy gaps in promoting sexual health and rights.

He said the organization of such conferences had produced quite a number of youth leaders and put the issues on the policy agenda of Africa’s development.

Dr Ahonsi, therefore, commended the organizers of Conference as their efforts were in consonance with the recommendations of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and the Bali Global Youth Forum which stressed the need for the youth to stay healthy; be entitled to and have access to comprehensive education, families, youth rights and well-being, including sexuality; transition to decent work, leadership and meaningful youth participation, comprehensive sexuality education, youth participation, access to comprehensive health services, including abortion; investment in young people and the prevention and elimination of all forms of violence against the youth.

Ms Edith Asamani, Conference Manager, who presented an overview of the Conference, said the Conference would identify promising and best practices for adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health, with a focus on effective responses to youth vulnerabilities.

In addition, Ms Asamani said, the Conference would facilitate knowledge management and programming to enhance the regional and global development agenda, and propose actions to promote adolescents and youth sexual and reproductive health and rights in the implementation of the ICPD Beyond 2014, the post-2015 Development Agenda and Agenda 2063.

The Executive Director of the Conference Secretariat, Kingsley Obeng-Kyereh, in a welcome address, said the Conference formed part of a long-term process of building and fostering a regional dialogue on sexual and reproductive health and rights that would lead to concrete actions to enhance stakeholders’ ability to influence policy and programming in favour of a sexually-healthy continent.

AFSHR has collaborated with several Core Conference Partners (CCP) and other key stakeholders in sexual and reproductive health over the past twelve years to organize the regional Conference.

The ACSHR had been held in Johannesburg, South Africa (2004), Nairobi, Kenya (2006), Abuja, Nigeria (2008), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (2010), Windhoek, Namibia (2012) and Yaounde, Cameroon (2014).

Source: ISD (G.D. Zaney)

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