Stanley Enow: 10 Things I Love About Cameroon

Douala-based rapper Stanley Enow selects the 10 things he loves the most about Cameroon.

In our “10 Things I Love” series we ask our favorite musicians, artists & personalities to tell us what they like the most about their home country.

In this new installment Douala-based rapper Stanley Enow, who released his debut album Soldier Like Ma Papa last year, shares the 10 things he loves the most about Cameroon.

"Impossible N'est Pas Camerounais"

A good number of our people live by this Cameroonian motto: Impossible N’est Pas Camerounais, meaning "Nothing Is Impossible to a Cameroonian." This slogan is a great source of motivation. It’s like Obama’s famous "Yes We Can."

Life in Africa is not easy and Cameroon is no exception, however Cameroonians have been blessed with a go-getter spirit. Faced with all the challenges that an average African child faces on a daily basis, Cameroonians don't give in to all apparent limitations.

With myself as an example, I always go that extra mile. To me everything is possible no matter what.

A view of Akwa, Doula. Creative Commons photo courtesy of Colette Ngo Ndjom (via Flickr).

Cameroonians Are Becoming More and More Supportive Towards Their Artists.

During recent times, I have experienced magical sensations when on stage. I find the crowd singing fully to my songs, screaming and fainting, it becomes very interesting for me living the life of a performer.

The connection you get from the crowd keeps you going and makes you feel there's something deeper than music. Cameroon is the place to be! I can't brag enough!

The Benefits of Two Official Languages

English and French are spoken as official languages. This gives virtually all Cameroonians (once they realize the potential) the unique capacity to easily cut through and across most parts of Africa and parts of the world breaking language barriers with considerable ease.

Thanks to the fact that I use English and French in my music it easily receives attention from various parts of the continent. For example, Ghanians, Congolese, Nigerians, French, Americans, English-speaking Europeans can quite easily understand the message in my music.

Cameroon; Africa In Miniature

We have about 240 ethnic groups in Cameroon and various local languages. This alongside the geography, history, architectural past, and culture, has earned Cameroon the description “Africa In Miniature.”

I feel amazed as I have friends and fans of various ethnic groups and we all live in harmony. Imagine the beauty of a diversified fan base appreciating your music in various ways according to their cultural and ethnic realities.

"Colors of Douala." Creative Commons image courtesy of Christine Vaufrey (via Flickr).

Kind Hearts

I have been given the opportunity to travel and see the world and I have been across parts of Africa, I have met people of different races and cultures. The people of Africa in general are kind hearted and respectful but those in Cameroon I would say are beyond imagination!

Can you imagine a country whereby everyone comes and feels at home? Well, let me tell you other Africans, Europeans, Asians reading this; Cameroon is the best place in Africa you can easily visit! But remember, once you get to Cameroon you may be tempted to relocate here for good :)

Ndolè, Fufu and Eru, Mbongo Tchobi, Achu, Koki...

One of the most captivating points of a nation is its meals. We have a variety of delicious traditional meals you will never find anywhere else in Africa. We have Ndolè, we have Mbongo Tchobi, we have Achu, we have Koki, we have Koki Corn, we have Nkwi...

When ever I travel out of Cameroon I quickly get home sick as I miss my Fufu and Eru which is my traditional meal from my tribe Bayangi from Manyu. Our meals also serve as a source of inspiration.

I remember singing about Fufu and Eru in one of my soul tracks, "Have A Dream" off my album Soldier Like Ma Papa.

Our Education System

Our education system is one of the best in Central Africa. Students from several African countries for example Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria come to Cameroon for specialised training. During their stay here they definitely learn about our culture and export our music to their various countries. That is one of the means via which my music gets exported to other parts of Francophone Africa especially.

Interior Decor and Fashion Design is the New Cool

Cameroonian buildings are as beautiful as those in Ghana as more and more Diasporans invest back in the country and also bring in their refined skills, talent and expertise. Both local and imported fabrics are used to create a unique taste and a feel of our urban scenery.

Cameroon has grown leaps and bounds the last five years in terms of its lifestyle. New cool spots and events are springing up here and there to create a deserving setting for the 'Bushfallers' (visiting Diasporans) and returnees.

It is beautiful when one goes into a local food joint served in very a cool space with Wifi connection. It makes life easier in Cameroon and enables us to always remain connected.

The Beauty of the Cameroonian Woman

African women in general have something unique. There is nothing as pleasing as seeing a well-built dark skinned lady sitting next to you say at the airport or in the bank!

I remember the catchy phrases in my first official song, "Hein Pere," in which I celebrated the beauty of the Cameroonian woman incarnated in our national divas and heroines such as Charlotte Dipanda, Lady Ponce and Kareyce Fotso.

Political Stability

One of the greatest things a nation needs to ensure sustainable development is peace and political stability. Imagine a situation whereby you have all the wealth on Earth but the climate is tense and constantly insecure like in some parts of Central Africa where there are constant political upheavals.

If the people live in constant fear, people will probably not be disposed to enjoy music to its fullest no matter how good it is. God Almighty has spared us so far from such challenges and we greatly thank Him.

Image: Courtesy TIFF

Jenna Cato Bass is Capturing the Horrors of an Unhealed Nation

The film marks the South African director's third debut and stride towards making a name for herself in the international film circuit.

Ever since premiering her debut film, Love the One You Love, which won the Best Feature Film at the Jozi Festival in 2015, Jenna Cato Bass has been a name to watch on the international film festival circuit. Her 2017 feature, High Fantasy, was the first of her films to land on the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) lineup, followed by Flatland in 2019. Her latest offering, Mlungu Wam (Good Madam), debuted at TIFF in September of 2021 — marking her third time at the esteemed Canadian film event.

Often provocative, always thought-provoking, Bass' films have come to establish her as a director who looks at South Africa's youth, the lives they're living and the future that awaits them, with a nuanced, open-minded lens. For the first time in her career, Bass uses the genre of horror to dig into an enduring mark of the country's past — that of the fraught, complex relationship between madam and domestic worker, in Mlungu Wam (Good Madam). Set in Cape Town, the film follows the unusual, disturbing things that start happening when a young woman moves back in with her estranged mother, who is the longtime caretaker for a rich, white household.

Bass also co-wrote the film Tug of War (Vuta N'Kuvute), which became Tanzania's first film to be selected for TIFF this year, and she co-wrote Rafiki, which was Kenya's first film at TIFF in 2018.

She spoke to OkayAfrica about playing in a new genre and her hopes for African cinema.

Still from Bass's film Mlungu Wam Image: Courtesy TIFF

This story revolves around the relationship between a domestic worker and her 'madam.' What made you want to make a film about this subject?

When I make films, I like the concept to revolve around something that we all have in common - because, despite the many fractures in our society, these shared places exist. And in South Africa, we felt that everyone - in some way or another - has been deeply affected by domestic work and domestic workers, who are a keystone in our society's structure. Additionally, the 'maid' and 'madam' relationship is the ultimate symbol of race relations in South Africa - as well as how they haven't changed significantly, despite almost thirty years of democracy. So a domestic worker was the perfect character around which to centre a South African horror.

The genre of horror works really well to explore this subject and tell this story — when did you know it would be the genre you'd want to use?

The early stages of developing a film aren't always linear for me. I'll be thinking about a genre I'm interested in, and then parallel to that I'll have an idea for a story or a character, and later on, will realize that these pieces all fit together. In this case, I'd been wanting to make a horror film for ages, but hadn't found the right story… until I had the idea for Mlungu Wam, and I realized I was finally ready to try this genre.

What challenges did you face in making a horror?

It was my first time working in this genre, and it was intimidating because there's no saving you if you fail. We were also working on a very, very limited budget, so it wasn't possible to show as much as we'd like to - but then again, this story was all about the subjective and the unseen, so I did as much research and planning as we could, and just had to trust it would work.

Where did you film, and did that have any impact on the process at all?

We filmed in a house in Cape Town, in a gated community in the Southern Suburbs. The house and the environment had a major impact on the film - especially because we were also quarantining there for the full 7 weeks of rehearsal and shooting. The house was our set and our accommodation, so it was very intense, very claustrophobic, and very triggering for many of our team members.

How did you and co-writer Babalwa Baartman work on the story? You've included cast members in the writing process in your previous work — did you do that here too?

Mlungu Wam was made along similar lines to my first two films, Love The One You Love and High Fantasy, where we started with an outline, cast actors, then workshopped the characters collaboratively before completing the story breakdown and using improv for the dialogue. Babalwa and I had worked together using this method on a short film we made in 2019 called Sizohlala. She really understands the process, and it was a really rewarding experience exploring the story with her and our cast.

How did Kristina Ceyton, who produced the excellent acclaimed horrors The Babadook and The Nightingale, through Causeway Films, come to be involved in this film?

I had met Sam Jennings, who is also a producer with Causeway Films, several years ago at a festival. We really connected and kept in touch over the years, sharing our work, and hoping there'd be a chance to collaborate. So when we were developing Mlungu Wam, I pitched her and Kristina the concept and they were immediately supportive. It has been a massive pleasure working with them both.

Your films are known to venture into themes of identity and healing from the past — how does this film speak to that?

Mlungu Wam is definitely about this too - it's a story about three generations of women (actually four, if you include Tsidi's grandmother, who is an unseen character in the film), how they are haunted by the past and eventually refuse to remain chained any longer. Their healing is collective, linked to each other, and wouldn't be possible for them alone as individuals.

Still from Bass's film Mlungu Wam Image: Courtesy TIFF

You've been at TIFF before - how has your experience of it been this year, with it being a hybrid of virtual and in-person?

Things have been quieter and a bit harder to navigate, but the TIFF staff have done incredible work getting the festival off the ground, despite endless challenges. It has felt very surreal to be here, and a privilege - and inspiring too, that we can still get together to celebrate films, even though our world is in such a mess. We had over 200 (socially distanced) people at our last screening, and that was an amazing feeling.

Yours is one of few African films on this year's line-up - is there anything you'd like to see happen to try improve that?

Regarding African cinema, TIFF has a real range of films this year, across several sections. Compared to many other festivals, they seem really invested in supporting cinema from the continent. Of course, this could be better, but it's also an example to other festivals who claim there aren't enough African films, that this is clearly not the case.

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