By Juliana Ndolo Mbua (Originally published in The Entrepreneur)
The world of showbiz in a multi facial composition of Fashion designing acting and modeling cultures beckon Cameroon’s vibrant unemployed youth market. Africa with a diversity of cultures stands a better chance of harboring varieties of modest film and theater resorts. Created in 1998, Africaphonie is a Pan-African association with the vision of democracy and economic development, to Show case the world of films in Cameroon they introduced their “Tele films.” The chairman of the board of trustee Dr Jacqueline Okay and her 26 member association believes that Africa can only be what Africans want it to be. Africaphonie organizes conferences and workshops in a sporadic and project based approach for stakeholders.
The general assembly of Africaphonie has taken up the task of communicating this ideology positively towards an African dream, for future generations.
When asked why Tele Film, the Executive Director Mr. George Ngwane explains that, “the films are not for commercial celluloid mass production but for a mass communication medium that reaches a broader range of persons." In his view, "if produced in home VCD or DVD some persons might not afford the copies, hence television houses represent the best medium of transmission for our projects.”
In their first Tele Film entitled nkuma the Pan African Association aims at creating awareness and sensitizing as well as condemning the implementation of female genital mutilation which is practiced in some parts of Cameroon, such as Akwaya. The Executive Director said, it was an issue left in the dark which had to be brought to light. Broadcast in Cameroon on the occasion of the 21st edition of the Women’s Day celebration, the objectives were to tell the stories no one is telling and working towards amending them, being the voice of the voiceless and turning Africa’s fears into strengths.
Africaphonie’s other project centers on HIV /AIDS and codenamed “Positive Living”. ‘It does not only take the awareness approach but advocate the possibilities of uniting various sectors involved in the fight against this immune deficient virus’ Mr Ngwane said. He further posited that a united front or multi-faceted approach to combat this deadly pandemic is the target of the movie giving all sectors of society the opportunity to contribute towards this battle.
On issues concerning the movie industry in Cameroon, Mr Ngwane prefers talking about the English speaking part of the country. In his view, a good number of production houses get mixed up imitating rather than innovating and encouraging creativity. There is the misconception in making the movie industry an adventure niche, one for ‘trial and error’, where people try their luck in becoming stars. This inhibits growth in the sector. “Production houses should remember that training has an intrinsic impact on their performances and thus capacity building should be of prime importance,” Mr Ngwane said.
He as well identified the core problem of funding. In his view, Cameroonian investors seem not interested in this mass communication medium which can touch and change so many lives and visions, perhaps building dreams for Africa. He calls on the various television houses to play a role in building this dream by showing more “home produced movies” and giving them an opportunity to promote culture and tradition.
However, the Executive Director of Africaphonie thinks there is a future for young film industry in Cameroon. The talents are numerous and can be found around the nation but they will need some degree of responsibility and time to develop into professionals. On investment, he advises investors not to expect profits too early from the industry. The sector in Cameroon is quite feeble and tender. Investors need care and patience in order to achieve long-term maximum profit. There is also hope for employment; he added “this is because the industry needs professionals to serve as technical crew, actors, production assistants, managers and marketing experts.
According to Mr Ngwane, in the years ahead, the Africaphonie will promote an epic movie on Kuva Likenye - a local ancestral warrior who resisted the exploits of the colonialist. The promotion of movies adds to the regular seminars and workshops organized by the Africanphonie to boost democracy and African Unity.