Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Cameroon:Engineer Emmanuel Kouontchou’s Commitment to nation-building rewarded.

By Christopher Ambe
   Emmanuel Kouontchou, a senior civil engineer  and  Director of the Advanced School for Public Works (NASPW),Buea Annex   has been honoured by the State of Cameroon for his  patriotism and commitment to nation-building.
Governor Bernard Okala (left) awarding Emmanuel Kouonchou,Director of  NASPW-Buea, the national  medal 
   The quiet-looking but workaholic Civil engineer who has been Director of   NASPW,Buea Annex  since 2005,was  on May 20th 2017 among many others singled out for state recognition  for their valuable services to the nation.
   Mr. kouontchou, in his early 50’s, was awarded the medal, Officer of the National Order of Valour by Southwest Governor Bernard Okala Bilai on behalf of President Paul Biya, at the Buea Buea Independence Square, during celebrations marking this year’s National Day.
He had five years ago been honored by the state of Cameroon with the medal, Knight of the National Order of Valour.
   Mr. Kouontchou is director of a state-owned institution, which has graduated hundreds of Cameroonians with specialized technical skills, who are now actively, involved in either the public or private sector helping in the realization of various development projects in the country.
    The NASPW which, was created by decree No.82-464 of October 1982, has its main campus in Yaoundé with Professor George Nkeng Elambo. The NASPW,Buea Annex  offers specialized training both at the Ordinary Technical cycle and the Higher Technical Cycle, in the following fields: Civil engineering, Land Surveying, Rural Engineering and Town Planning.
   Mr.Kouontchou, who has dedicated his award to the staff and trainees of his NASPW, expressed optimism that NASPW Buea has been making significant contributions towards the realization of Cameroon’s Vision 2035.
   While promising to do his best to ensure that NASPW remains a training center for excellence, the Director hailed the inputs of his hierarchy towards his successes.
“I must thank the Minister of Public Works, the Grand Chancellor of National Order,the Director of the NASPW Yaounde for contributing in one way or the other to the honour I just received from the State of Cameroon”,
    According to Tarhyang Tabe, chief SAF at NASPW, the student population of the institution now stands at 10482, out of which about 200 are females and about 300 Anglophone Students.
  Mr. Tabe said the number of female and Anglophone Students have surged in recent years because the Director launched a campaign to that effect.
   Although Mr.Kouontchou hails from Koung-khi Division of the West Region, he has worked as engineer in the Southwestwest Region in various capacities for more than 22 years.graduated with flying colors from the NASPW Yaounde in 1986.
    Upon his graduation from NASPW Yaounde in 1986, Mr. Kouontchou joined the public service and was posted to the Ministry of Public Works, Department of Roads. 
    From 1988-90,he served as  head of service in the then Southwest  Provincial Delegation of Public Works; in 1990, Mr. Kouontchou was appointed Divisional Delegate for Public Works in Ndian Division and after three years he was appointed  Divisional Delegate  of Public Works  for Fako  Division and after four years, he was was promoted  to the rank of  Southwest Provincial Delegate for Public Works  where he served in that capacity for three years. From 2000-2005, this duty-conscious civil engineer was lecturer at NASPW Buea where he demonstrated the mastery of civil engineering skills. That professional brilliance further worked in his favor. He would in 2005 be appointed as Director of NASPW Buea, a position he has held to date, attracting praises from both his hierarchy and the general Public.
He is a father of several children and married to Victorine kouontchou, a former government employee.
    Mr. Kouontchou is frontline CPDM member and has been subsection President of CPDM Mile 4.He  has also served as councilor of Limbe 1 council.
   He is also a philanthropist, often assisting the underprivileged.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Achingale’s “The Wrong Decision”: A play on ordinary people against the backdrop of political corruption

By Edwin Ntumfon Tangwa (PhD)
In a society that is rigged by institutionalized corruption and an amateurish political system that feeds on its own inefficiency, truth and honesty are heretic values that can only be cherished by the most peripheral. Recent works from Cameroon have either been scathing attacks in this political system or critiques of the social climate in the country. Achingale’s latest play deliberately avoids such obvious, overt political themes but by no means remains apolitical. The playwright artfully foregrounds the simple striving of ordinary people against the backdrop of elemental political corruption and successfully depicts the institutional failure in the postcolonial nation-state and its attendant vexatious social upshots in the most subtle, yet poignant, tone.
    Some people read plays or watch performances for the entertainment and/or to see how much of their own lives is mirrored in the characters, while others look for the playwright’s political message; for as Ngugi Wa Thiong’o puts it, all postcolonial writers are ‘writers in politics’. The Wrong Decision will certainly satisfy both groups, for it is a play about young people pursuing education as a means to build a bright future for themselves in a society plagued by moral decadence where schools teach corruption. These young people sharply differ in their perception of what that bright future is and how to build it.
    For Ango and Gambesso, that future is already assured because of their admission into the Major Academy for Neo Elite (MANE) where they are “trained to be rich” (a subtle reference to the thievery for which graduates from that school are reputed). Ule and Besingi, on the other hand, believe in hard work, love and modesty and their dreams are limited to Elamron Instructors College (EIC) which Ango calls “cheap, popular side”, (again a subtle denigration of the teaching profession which is despised by many in the corrupt Republic of Remak).
     There is an unstated conflict between Besingi, Ule and Bih on the one hand and Ango and Gambesso on the other. We only get a sense of this conflict through a passive reference to history made by Besingi in a conversation with Ule. Thereafter it becomes evident that Remak is a divided country and that the opposing circumstances of Ango and Besingi are not the work of chance but rather the consequence of a historically constructed marginalization of people like Besingi, Bih and Ndemazia. It is in the contrast between these characters and their ideas of life that the playwright’s message comes through. The writer’s successful juxtaposition of the simple and the complex, of greed and generosity of heart brings home the message that we reap what we sow but without the usual moralising clichés that usually accompany such themes.
    The Wrong Decision is not an elitist play. Entirely absorbing and beautifully crafted in the typical local Cameroonian speech, it is accessible and relevant to every society. Achingale successfully portrays the prevailing political and moral corruption of the barely concealed Central African country through the eyes of its young victims who seem to have sharply contrasting views about good and evil. The students’ experiences at the university and their survival strategies will be familiar to anyone who has been a student in any Cameroonian university while the use of popular names like Bate Besong and Bole Butake brings the play ever closer to the unsuspecting reader.
    Finally, Douglas Achingale’s pedagogic drive for which his previous works are reputed is unmistakable in this play. His successful combination of the virulence of Bate Besong and the subtleness of Bole Butake sets him on the path towards a new genre in Cameroonian drama. This is a play that deserves a place in our school syllabi both for its pedagogic and moral undertones. I look forward to more works from this budding writer with a lot of promise.