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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Le rationnement en eau potable a commencé

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Certains quartiers de la ville de Yaoundé reçoivent de l’eau, d’autres pas, suivant le calendrier de distribution institué par la CDE. Lequel reste encore méconnu des populations.

A Yaoundé, l’air de rien, le bidon d’eau est devenu l’accessoire le mieux partagé, et davantage avec l’arrivée de la saison sèche. Au quartier Mvog-Betsi, une joyeuse troupe d’enfants se promène, bassines et bouteilles sur la tête, à la recherche d’eau courante.

Tandis que dans son véhicule, Annie Pulchérie Ambomo, communicatrice, collectionne les bonbonnes d’eau, histoire de se ravitailler dès qu’elle en aura la possibilité. De son côté, Laurence Onguene, résidente au quartier Nkolndongo, dit avoir remarqué que c’est depuis le 24 décembre dernier, que la zone n’est plus desservie en eau. Dans les faits, la Camerounaise des Eaux (CDE) a récemment annoncé le retour au rationnement en eau potable à Yaoundé, du fait de la saison sèche.

Ainsi, l’entreprise s’est engagée à publier un calendrier de distribution d’eau dans la ville, lequel devrait être disponible et affiché dans toutes ses agences. Toutefois, la plupart des usagers ne sont pas informés du passage à ce mode de distribution. Aimé Parfait Bikok III, résident au lieu dit « lycée d’Etoug-Ebe », a gardé ses habitudes d’approvisionnement. « Il n’y a pas d’eau. Nous sommes obligés de nous rendre dans les puits, les sources dès 4h du matin.

Parfois, il faut se lever à 3 h du matin lorsque l’eau arrive, une fois par mois». A Olembe où la distribution est intermittente, Vicky Bernadette Dikongue, résidente, affirme : « Nous avons de l’eau courante deux fois par semaine. Par ailleurs, nous ne sommes pas informés du programme de rationnement. Lorsqu’il y a de l’eau, nous en profitons, sinon, nous sommes dans l’attente. Peut-être qu’au moment du paiement de la prochaine facture d’eau, nous allons vérifier les jours de distribution. »

En effet, dans certains coins de la ville, la distribution s’effectue deux fois par semaine, tandis que dans d’autres, elle est de quatre jours en moyenne. Le rationnement institué ces jours par la CDE est la conséquence du changement de saison. « Depuis qu’il fait de plus en plus chaud, les habitants ont augmenté leur consommation d’eau.

Plusieurs utilisent davantage d’eau pour lutter contre la poussière en arrosant la devanture de leurs domiciles ou autres », explique Félix Zogo Manga, directeur régional Yaoundé Agglomération de la CDE. Affirmation que renforce le directeur général de la Camwater, Jean Williams Sollo lorsqu’il explique : « Les quantités d’eau produites n’ont pas diminué. L’eau potable produite a augmenté cette année avec l’apport de l’usine sur la Mefou à Nkolbisson ».

Cameroon Tribune

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Relief Challenges As Drought Plunges Lesotho Into Emergency

WFP plans to strengthen collaboration with the government and partners as more than 650,000 people face hunger in Lesotho’s worst drought in decades. Struggling from two successive crop failures, the mountain kingdom has been pushed into a state of crisis by the El Niño weather phenomenon which has brought reduced rainfall to much of southern Africa.

A cloud of dust gathers in the air and, a short distance away, a tractor grinds through a dry field. The pain of waiting for rain has finally driven Berea farmer Teboho Tlale to plant maize under the hot sun.

“I have decided to plant because in the past droughts, it rained in December,” says Tlale. ” I’m praying for enough rain to nourish the crop until March.”

The drought that is ravaging so much of Southern Africa has hit Lesotho hard. It has dried up most rivers in Berea district and other parts of the country. The wasted sheep have only scorched grass for pasture and little to drink. Many subsistence farmers have not planted, a sign that many families will go hungry in 2016. Unlike Tlale, ‘Mamosa Matamane has given up hope that normal rains will fall this season.

“I am worried because we have very little food left from our last harvest,” says Matamane (30) whose husband has gone to join his brother in search of a job in South Africa.

So severe is the situation that, on 22 December, the Government of Lesotho declared a state of drought emergency and appealed for assistance from the international community. Lesotho needs an estimated 584 million Maloti (US$ 37 milllion) to provide water, food, nutritional support and medication to those most vulnerable people and to prevent further loss of livestock. The government has indicated it has only 150 million Maloti (US$ 9.6 million) to support relief efforts. Disaster Management Authority estimates that some 650,000 – a third of the population – will need food assistance in 2016. These include some people in urban areas who will not be able to meet the high cost of food.

Most rural families depend on rain-fed subsistence farming while wool and mohair production are the main sources of livelihhod for many people.

“WFP is appealing for additional financial support to meet the increasing needs of people caused by the drought,” says World Food Programme Deputy Country Director Arduino Mangoni.

In the face of pressing funding challenges, WFP plans to provide nutritional support to nearly 40,000 people including children under the age of two, pregnant and nursing women, and patients receiving anti-retroviral therapy and TB treatment. The provision of food by WFP to 300,000 children in pre- and primary schools is set to continue throughout the country.

Source: World Food Programme

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