On Life, love and Politics

"Random musings about Life, love and Politics. Just my open diary on the events going on in the world as I see it."

An Emerging Cameroonian Film Industry June 16, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — kikenileda @ 10:13 AM

In high school, I happened to be good friends with two amazing actors
who went on to Julliard and Tisch acting schools, respectively, in New
York. Working for a writer in New York, I spent two summers with them
and their friends, meeting some of the most promising young singers,
actors and dancers in the city. Zigoto Tchaya Tchameni,
a prolific all around entertainer and artist that I became close
friends with this month in Yaounde, Cameroon, is easily as talented as
any of the performers I met in New York. However, being born in
Cameroon instead of America, Zigoto got the short end of resources and
support when it comes to the arts and entertainment. To me, this
juxtaposition embodies the challenges that young African entrepreneurs
with great talents and ideas face.


The most ambitious project Zigoto has undertaken is to create a
Cameroonian film industry out of thin air. Cameroon's neighbor,
Nigeria, is famous for producing more films that any other country
besides India, but no other Sub-Saharan African country (besides South
Africa) has made inroads into the industry. Zoomer's Pictures, Zigoto's
company, envisions the Cameroonian film industry as the 'art house' of
West African film making, focusing on high quality, thought provoking
pictures instead of exclusively on commercializing their content. This
is smart, considering that Cameroon has less than 20% of the population
of Nigeria and far less of a global reputation.

Zigoto assembled the Zoomers team for our group one night in Yaounde, where we saw a viewing of their premier film, Taboo. Taboo
is a film that says a lot, and illustrates the challenging topics of
marijuana smoking, lesbianism and more. The movie seems to have
successfully struck the nerves of many Cameroonians to whom these
issues cause significant tension. However, Zigoto and the Zoomers team
recognize the importance of getting into a debate about what the
Cameroonian culture values. That's what I like about their work.

terms of the international networking that unfortunately seems to be
obligatory for African entrepreneurs, Zigoto has done quite well for
himself, linking up with the British Council, as well as with
supporters in Belgium and France (covering both sides of the bilingual
support available in Cameroon), but I am certain that Zigoto is only
just getting started with what he has to contribute to Cameroonian
culture and business.

When I got home from Cameroon, I started catching up with the TED Global talks from last month's landmark conference in Arusha. By far, my favorite talk
was by Hans Rosling, a international health professor from Stockholm.
At the end of the talk, he elegantly pointed out (through a on-stage
sword swallowing demonstration!) that the end of any people's struggle
to make life better is not economic development, for this is simply a
means. The end, rather, is creating and engaging in culture, the stuff
that gives our lives meaning. In this sense, Zigoto and his team at
Zoomers are doing some of the most important work taking place in


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